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Stand on Zanzibar (1968)

by John Brunner

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Club of Rome Quartet (1)

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3,143514,035 (3.91)166
"Originally published in 1968, Stand on Zanzibar was a breakthrough in science fiction storytelling technique, and a prophetic look at a dystopian 2010 that remains compelling today. Corporations have usurped democracy, ubiquitous information technology mediates human relationships, mass-marketed psychosomatic drugs keep billions docile, and genetic engineering is routine. Universal in reach, the world-system is out of control, and we are all its victims...and its creator"--Cover p. [4].… (more)

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» See also 166 mentions

English (47)  Spanish (2)  French (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (51)
Showing 1-5 of 47 (next | show all)
Visiting hours, naturally, had to be based on local - Earthside - time, but it was no help to anyone when those who came were confrontedg with a series of inert lumps, even if those lumps were fifty lightyears from home.
Attempts were consequently always made to adapt the aliens to a twenty-four-hour day. Some adjusted easily; others could not at any price, being too tightly fixated on their home world's night-day cycle.
During the ten hours of the day when the zoo was open for visitors, as many as half the exhibits might be slumbrously dull. Alternatively, the cycles might chime together and the whole place become a buzz of vigorous movement, colour and sound. The latter occasions always brought visitors in hordes because they were always well advertised. for convenience they had to have a name and a definition: a Coincidence Day was one where forty or more of the fifty presentations were at day activity peak for at least five hours.

A book of science fiction short stories first published in 1968. My favourite was "Coincidence Day" which was about a zoo of extraterrestrial species on Earth. I also liked "A Better Mousetrap", "Seizure" and "Treason is a Two-edged Sword", but overall I prefer this author's novels to his short stories. ( )
  isabelx | Sep 22, 2023 |
Dense. Complex. A uniquely structured novel that envelopes you in the (then) future world of 2010 as imagined by John Brunner. It's not an idealistic or even vaguely positive vision. But it is eerily accurate in some of it's predictions. Which makes the darker aspects of Brunner's past future hit closer to home. In a way this novel has a renewed and different sense of relevance now it's date of prediction has passed. Highly recommended and don't let the setting of a prediction of a future that has now passed put you off, in many ways this has made it more compelling to read in 2016 ( )
  laurence_gb | Jul 30, 2023 |
Where Brunner really excels is in weaving together a variety of different narratives to paint a vision of a future that is both familiar and nightmare in nature. After thirty years, Brunner's dystopia of the future still has a lot of resonance for readers today. It is wonderful in its multi-faceted presentation of a dystopian vision. Make a beeline for it if you haven't read it before. If you have, read it again because it holds up well over time. ( )
  jwhenderson | Mar 13, 2023 |
Another book, like "The Sheep Look Up," that proves Brunner is a time traveler. Published in 1968, How else could he know so many things about the future? A president named Obomi, who actually loves his people and wants the best for them, "domestic" computers to help you with your finances, the spread of hate and terrorism, the financial and technical advancement of the Chinese so that they have become our rivals. The only thing that he was ahead of himself with, are The Eugenics Board, The Eugenics Laws and their accompanying police. We know that's coming soon. ( )
  burritapal | Oct 23, 2022 |
Should SF be seen as prescient? Only in hindsight, which makes any "predictions" worthless. Unless the author in question develops a track record of being right (in which case I'd be interested in seeing what they wrote about Bitcoin). Given the millions of SF authors, bashing out billions of pages, it is no surprise that simply due to dumb luck, some of their guesses will come true: in some form. However, since these stories have to relate to readers living in the present if the authors make up stuff that is too "out there", they will lose their readers. So any predictions are generally just linear extrapolations from the present. It is notable that almost nobody predicted the rise of the personal computer or the internet. And those who did (John Brunner's "The Shockwave Rider" from 1975 being probably the closest) did not see it becoming what it is today (the novel in which computer viruses called 'tapeworms' were 'invented'. Remember 'Stuxnet'?). Authors should not be judged on what they got right. Lottery winners are not acclaimed "prescient". Instead they should be read because their stories are well written.

Novelists don't live in a bubble. They respond to things which are going on around them and process them into fiction. Atwood, in particular, rejects the idea that her work is science fiction and sees it as speculative explorations of how real world issues might play out to create dystopias. The Handmaid's Tale was inspired by the Iranian revolution and growing religiosity in US politics, and Oryx and Crake trilogy is an exploration of climate change and social breakdown. The possibility of a pandemic seems to have been on the radar of many people for a while now (with the obvious exception of our dear government, which truly does seem to live under a rock) so it isn't surprising that it has inspired writers - Louise Welsh and Minette Walters have both written excellent and hard hitting novels on post pandemic societies in recent years.

What does “Stand on Zanzibar” bring to the table? Well, it's worrying to see that the 1967 prediction Brunner used was a population of 7 billion in 2010, essentially spot on (6.9 billion in fact; I know, I looked it up…). “Stand on Zanzibar” always deserves a nod for what it got right (coming to think of it, so does "The Sheep Look Up”, and “The Jagged Orbit”).

I think it was Ursula Le Guin who said that there was no foresight in SF, only lies. Well, if the past and the present are anything to go by, the future is full of them.

Book Review SF = Speculative Fiction ( )
  antao | Sep 22, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 47 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Brunner, Johnprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brin, DavidIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Burns, JimCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gómez García, JesúsTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hasted, MichaelCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McMurray, JacobIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pemerle, DidierTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pukallus, HorstTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Robinson, Kim StanleyIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
S. A. Summit IncCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tinkelman, MurrayCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"There is nothing wilful or arbitrary about the Innis mode of expression. Were it to be translated into perspective prose, it would not only require huge space, but the insight into modes of interplay among forms of organisation would also be lost. Innis sacrificed point of view and prestige to his sense of the urgent need for insight. A point of view can be a dangerous luxury when substituted for insight and understanding. As Innes got more insight he abandoned any mere point of view in his presentation of knowledge. When he interrelates the development of the steam press with the 'consolidation of the vernaculars' and the rise of nationalism and revolution he is not reporting anybody's point of view, least of all his own. He is setting up a mosaic configuration or galaxy for insight... Innes makes no effort to 'spell out' the interrelations between the components in his galaxy. He offers no consumer packages in his later work, but only do-it-yourself kits..." - Marshall McLuhan: The Gutenberg Galaxy
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"Originally published in 1968, Stand on Zanzibar was a breakthrough in science fiction storytelling technique, and a prophetic look at a dystopian 2010 that remains compelling today. Corporations have usurped democracy, ubiquitous information technology mediates human relationships, mass-marketed psychosomatic drugs keep billions docile, and genetic engineering is routine. Universal in reach, the world-system is out of control, and we are all its victims...and its creator"--Cover p. [4].

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