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Stand on Zanzibar

3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  8,539 ratings  ·  285 reviews
Norman Niblock House is a rising executive at General Technics, one of a few all-powerful corporations. His work is leading General Technics to the forefront of global domination, both in the marketplace and politically---it's about to take over a country in Africa. Donald Hogan is his roommate, a seemingly sheepish bookworm. But Hogan is a spy, and he's about to discover ...more
Hardcover, 582 pages
Published 1968 by Doubleday & Company, Inc. (Garden City, NY)
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mark monday
:: Stand on Zanzibar is one of my favorite novels ::

Stand on Zanzibar (50th Anniversary Collection)

a) Stand on Zanzibar is about overpopulation. if the entire world's population were to stand on Zanzibar, it would sink.

b) Stand on Zanzibar is about information. how is it processed? what does it really mean?

c) Stand on Zanzibar is about the evils and cupidity of corporatization. it is about how a corporation may be able to do a good thing, despite itself.

d) Stand on Zanzibar is about the evils and stupidity of the State. it provides many exa
...more
Henry Avila
This psychedelic novel. Is set in the far distant future, 2010! When we can look forward to picture phones,holographic t.v. sets . Moon bases, and battery powered cars everywhere(can't wait).The happening man is Norman Niblock House.He lives in a domed Manhattan.The rest of New York City's citizens. Are not important enough to have that structure. Norman works as an executive and only black man. For General Technical Corporation(G T to its loyal employees). And still run by the founder Georgette ...more
Manny
Definitely one of the best SF dystopias, which IMHO deserved more attention. OK, it's fair that "1984" and "Brave New World" received greater critical acclaim - there's no doubt that they are better. But there must be a hundred people who have read them for every one who's read Zanzibar, and that's not an accurate reflection of the difference in quality. Brunner has some interesting things to say that you won't find in either of the other two books, and he writes quite well.

By the way, in case y
...more
Stephen
6.0 stars (One of my All Time Favorites). A staggering novel. Rich in characters, a superbly crafted story that moves very quickly and deals with some very important issues. I absolutely loved this book and consider it one of the true classics of Science Fiction.

Winner: Hugo Award for Best Science Fiction Novel (1969)
Nominee: Nebula Award for Best Science Fiction Novel (1969)
Winner: Britsh Science Fiction Award for Best Novel (1970)
Stephen
6.0 stars (One of my All Time Favorites). A staggering novel. Rich in characters, a superbly crafted story that moves very quickly and deals with some very important issues. I absolutely loved this book and consider it one of the true classics of Science Fiction.

Winner: Hugo Award for Best Science Fiction Novel (1969)
Nominee: Nebula Award for Best Science Fiction Novel (1969)
Winner: Britsh Science Fiction Award for Best Novel (1970)
Erik Graff
Jan 04, 2011 Erik Graff rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: sf
Reading this before discovering DosPassos' U.S.A., I was mightily impressed by Brunner's originality of technique. Discovering U.S.A., I was even more impressed by DosPassos, of course, but did not fault Brunner's employment of the other's proven methods for painting an enormous, richly textured picture of a possible future.

The book was anxiety-provoking in 1969. The accuracy of many of Brunner's predictions makes one wonder about the increasingly large subgenre of science fiction books which ar
...more
knig
Oct 02, 2012 knig rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to knig by: Mark Monday
Shelves: 2012
I asked sci fi guru Mark for a recommendation, and I all I got was this Stand on Zanzibar. (Well, Dhalgren as well, but that may have to wait for another lifetime). Well phew. Climbing Mount Everest might have been a tad easier than ploughing through this ....erm, actually, Mark may have threatened me with Shalmaneser obliteration if I don’t show proper encomium so I better not say ...this clunker. Well, but it is: its chunky and clunky and all 1960s ‘groovy baby’ and full of revolutionary hype ...more
Bill
Found it interesting; a unique style of writing. I've read different ways; the normal way from front to end, then also by sticking to the sub-headings; context, the happening world, tracking with closeups, etc. Either way, it made for excellent reading.
Matt
Jul 11, 2008 Matt rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who like science fiction
Shelves: science-fiction
I've read this book twice now, once a few months back and once in the early 90's. While I still greatly enjoyed the novel, it didn't stand up to a second reading as well as I thought it might.

'Stand on Zanzibar' is told in a very modern style that could be off-putting to some, although it is far more approachable than some other canonical stories from experimental 'New Wave' science fiction from the same period. And, as 'New Wave' there is some casual brutality to the story that some others migh
...more
ruby
this is perhaps one of the most prescient science fiction novels ever written.

i picked this up relatively recently, aware that it had a certain reputation as a classic of the genre, but also expecting it to have aged relatively badly, like many classics of the time. i was aiming to fill a gap in my reading, but wasn't expecting it to be particularly enjoyable.

as it is i was very pleasantly surprised. Brunner's style is very contemporary and not in the least stuffy. his speculative science, thoug
...more
Saul Bennett
Well, what an amazing novel. Totally unique and ahead if its time. I was intrigued by the fact it was written in 1968 and the story was set in 2010!
I loved the phrases the author invented - codders and shiggies (men and women), mockers, sheeting hell (I say that a lot myself now!), pint of whaledreck.
I loved the vast array of colourful characters - especially the inimitable Chad C Mulligan.
Some of the scenes (most of them very short and shocking) will stick in my memory for a long time. Such as
...more
Randy
A difficult book to wade into. Not due to the subject matter, but rather getting to know the vernacular of Brunner's near-future, becoming acquainted with largish cast of characters (of whom only 5 are so are of primary importance, but there are dozens of ancillary characters), and the organization of the book. Chapters of plot (labelled as 'Continuity' in the header) are cut and spliced with scenes that have no direct bearing on the primary plot or advertising scripts or some other such thing. ...more
Kate Sherrod
Simultaneously reading like a deadly earnest Illuminatus! Trilogy scrubbed of all the conspiracy nuttiness*, a fictionalized parable of Toffler's classic Future Shock, a finger-wagging sermon about the evils of overpopulation, and a whacked-out Jeff Noon media scramble, Stand on Zanzibar is one of the coolest bits of New Wave science fiction a reader could pick up.

A lot of people who pick up a John Brunner novel -- or indeed any older science fiction novel -- in the 21st century get hung up on e
...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I posted a longer review to my blog, but one basic summary is that the present isn't that different from Brunner's imagined future, and it is all our fault.

I loved how Brunner presented the feeling of information overload, in fact I had more fun reading the first half of the book, which is less story and more atmosphere, than I did reading the actual plot-heavy parts.


Maggie K
A lot of folks love this book, and I really tried to like it, and maybe I just wasn't in the right mood, but these characters, and the way they treated women, was just too annoying to me. I gave up.
Alan Zendell
I loved this book when it came out in 1968. I thought it was daringly brilliant, a frightening projection of what the world might be like in 2010. Reading it in 2012, I'm reminded that projection isn't the same as prediction.

As a predictor, writing in the mid-1960s, Brunner missed a few things like cell phones, the internet, auto-immune disorders like AIDS, and Iran replacing Egypt as the middle-east bad guy. He also missed the facts that a permanent moon base and suborbital high-speed airliner
...more
Stacie
I always find it amusing/entertaining to read about what people in the past thought today would be like. The book was written in 1968 about the year 2010. It definitely surprised me that there happened to be a character named President Obomi (not of the US) who is half black and half white, and he and his country are in some ways a symbol of hope for peace.

This was a really interesting read, although a bit hard to get into at first. He just sort of dumps you right into his quirky writing style w
...more
Jason Pym
I understand this was a breakthrough novel for 1967, and it is full of ideas that are staggering for the time it was written, but for me this didn't work as a novel. The characters all leave me cold (with the exception of Chad Mulligan - he was great), which is a problem for such a long book.

I like the idea of all these snap shots of the world, like a photomontage, but for me it would have worked better if they were fleshed out a bit more, given a more personal focus. And as for the two main pl
...more
J. Mark
Oct 20, 2007 J. Mark rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: sci-fi fans and not-so sci-fi fans, fans of extrapolated sociology
Shelves: sci-fi-fantasy
This and "The Sheep Look Up" are Brunner's masterworks, though there are dozens of worthwhile reads from his amazing pen. This involved work, structurally based on John Dos Passos' "U.S.A. trilogy," gives a full worldview of what was then a not-too-distant future. Brunner had a knack for extrapolating current events and where they were likely to lead, and what we have in "Stand on Zanzibar" is a world that is in many ways like the one in which we now live. A cloak-and-dagger mystery as well as s ...more
Dries
This book was unlike any book i've read before. Multiple stories from multiple perspectives tell a story about an overpopulated earth. Written in 1968 some of the things written have come true in ways making this novel great to read for its critique on our current time. The unique thing about this books are the perspectives Brunner uses. Chapters have subnames like "tracking with close-ups" or "context". They tell personal stories, work the main plot, give random news flashes, data-feed for comp ...more
Daniel Etherington
Yep, another true classic in the SF Masterworks imprint.

First couple of hundred pages were hard work though. Brunner was clearly experimenting, and what was avant garde in 1968 might seem a little awkward today. Heck, it probably jarred back then too.

Some of the book's strands tell the main story, however others read like channel-surfing, or are peripheral vignettes, all adding detail and colour to Brunner's world-building.

Once you get used to the style there's a strong, salient story here. A
...more
terpkristin
I don't really know how to sum up this book. It was good, though I think the parts I liked about it were more the world-building than the actual plot. Written in 1968, Brunner paints a bleak picture of the current day (2010). Sadly, his painting is quite accurate. This book reminds me a bit of Infinite Jest in its disjointedness that all somehow comes together to form a (mostly) cohesive narrative. In this book, though, the world-building and side-character development is done in parallel with t ...more
Simon
My first John Brunner novel and, coming with many glowing reviews and being in the SF Masterworks series, I had high expectations. I really wanted to like this book but I have to say after completing it that I struggle to see what people see in it.

It didn't bode well from the outset when the narrative began with deeply fragmented chunks of info dumping, character introduction and scene setting. At the beginning, with no story to give these information fragments context, I could not get a handle
...more
Mike
Where to start when talking about Stand on Zanzibar? Maybe the meaning of the title:

"And to close on, the Dept of Small Consolations Some troubledome just figured out that if you allow for every codder and shiggy and appleofmyeye a space one foot by two you could stand us all on the six hundred forty square mile surface on the island of Zanzibar ToDAY third MAY twenty-TEN come aGAIN!" By the end of the book, several months later, poor Zanzibar can no longer hold all of humanity and some of our n
...more
Jeff
Jul 06, 2010 Jeff rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: dystopia fans; fans of Dos Passos; fans of both
Shelves: science-fiction
++++++++++++++++++++
Sep '09: i discovered a bunch of my What Do I Read Next? reviews from the mid-90s when i was on a serious canonical SF reading kick (and, apparently, averse to capital letters).
++++++++++++++++++++

non-Plot Summary (courtesy of several texts on the subject)

anatomy of wonder: two major plots unfold. black Norman House, a tool of giant General Technics, manipulates the exploitation of a small, mineral-rich african country (Beninia), while his roommate, white Donald Hogan, a tool
...more
Punk
SF. I can't even begin to summarize this book. It's not so much a novel as a series of interconnected news broadcasts, first person accounts, book excerpts, police reports, history lessons, folk tales, and a couple characters thrown in just to move the plot along. Plot: The earth is seriously overpopulated, population control has reached new levels of oppression, and big business seems to be running the global economy with the help of computer prophet Shalmaneser. There are also spies. And a pre ...more
Peter
I first read this book in the 1970s and just read it again this month. This a marvelous novel...bursting at the seams with ideas, observation and craziness. It's set in 2010 and that makes it even more pertinent today. There are all kinds of things Brunner gets wrong but very few of them are important...there are all kinds of things he gets right or mostly right and most of them are vital to the way we live today. This is science fiction at its best...painting a dystopian vision and making you t ...more
Megan Baxter
That was 600+ pages of sheer eccentricity! Not in a bad way, but wow. I love books like this, that push the boundaries in some way, play around with indirect narrative. As long as they know why they're doing it. This one did.

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.

In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook
Bryan
I'm really into classics, and I'm especially into genre classics, so I almost feel a little bit guilty giving this book a "mere" three stars (although I feel I should note that I actually use the Goodreads star values, in which a three-star rating means "I liked it"). Ultimately though, I feel I have to rate and review books honestly, for my own piece of mind if for no other reason. I liked this book, but I don't feel much stronger about it than that.

Stand On Zanzibar has a lot of things going f
...more
Mark
A hallmark of new age science fiction, with experimental prose (drawing heavily on John Dos Passos) and massively detailed world building coming together to create a vibrant tale of a overpopulated future with an omnipresent caldera of violence that frequently erupts forth at the cracks in society.

The book is structurally fascinating, but I will force myself to hold off and first lay out some of the plot. The stress of overpopulation has led to increasingly restrictive regulations. Couples are o
...more
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23113
The late John Brunner was perhaps as well known for much of his career in the US as in the UK. A leftwing activist, with particular connections to the peace movement, much of his best and most mature fiction is involved in a complex analysis of social trends and where they will take us--novels like Stand on Zanzibar which deals with overpopulation, among other things, and The Sheep Look Up, which ...more
More about John Brunner...
The Sheep Look Up The Shockwave Rider The Crucible of Time The Jagged Orbit The Squares of the City

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“It's supposed to be automatic, but actually you have to push this button. ” 142 likes
“True, you’re not a slave. You’re worse off than that by a long, long way. You’re a predatory beast shut up in a cage of which the bars aren’t fixed, solid objects you can gnaw at or in despair batter against with your head until you get punch-drunk and stop worrying. No, those bars are the competing members of your own species, at least as cunning as you on average, forever shifting around so you can’t pin them down, liable to get in your way without the least warning, disorienting your personal environment until you want to grab a gun or an axe and turn mucker.” 2 likes
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