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What Mad Universe

3.97  ·  Rating Details ·  673 Ratings  ·  55 Reviews
The editor of a sci-fi pulp magazine is accidentally transported to a parallel universe where space travel is common, Earth is at war with creepy aliens, New York City isn't safe after dark, and his girlfriend is with someone else. Regularly appears on "Greatest science fiction" lists.
Paperback, 205 pages
Published August 1978 by Bantam Books (first published January 1st 1949)
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Fredric Brown was a true ubermensch of the Golden Age of Science Fiction, and his short stories are still among the best ever written in the genre. I mean that. Best...Ever...Written.

What Mad Universe is one of only a handful of SF novels that he wrote, a tear-inducing shame given how bursting with amazing it is. What's so unique about this tale is that it's both classic pulp SF in its own right, while at the same time acting as an examination/critique of pulp SF stereotypes.

Double your pleasu
Sep 04, 2016 Brad rated it it was amazing
This old classic SF deserves to be called a classic. :) Even now, it feels fairly unique and very interesting, a solid riff off of the golden age SF and a nearly seamless conjunction with alternate reality with all kinds of BEMs. (Bug Eyed Monsters).

SF in our universe, and Fact in the other. Aliens everywhere! War of the Worlds, Mars, Venus, Teleportation, Motherships, subjugation, it's all here.

So what is this professional in the SF field going to do when faced with a reality that is everything
Jack Tripper
Jan 26, 2016 Jack Tripper rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While the "science" in this science-fiction novel makes Philip K. Dick seem like Arthur C. Clarke, this was pure, non-stop entertainment. It has a light, humorous tone throughout, though this isn't like a Douglas Adams novel, but more like early PKD, only slightly more ridiculous and free-wheeling.

The basic gist is that there's a man, Kieth, living in the very near future (at the time), who works as an editor for various sf and weird magazines that were so prevalent back in the day. On the same
Dec 28, 2015 Algernon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015

It all started with a BIG BANG !

Caught in the center of the explosion is Keith Winton, the editor of one of those fantastic pulp magazines that flourished in the 1930's and 1940'sAmerica. His own magazine is called "Surprising Stories" and specializes in planetary romance with lurid covers of scantily dressed young women chased by a BEM. (*)


(*) Bug-Eyed Monster
image copyright : Fastner & Larson

From his post-Depression New York life, Keith Winton is thrown into a parallel universe where s
Mar 21, 2010 Rhys rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although better known for his (extremely brief) short stories, Frederic Brown was also an extremely accomplished novelist. The solidity of his prose style is remarkable: he was just a very good writer, able to express sometimes quite complex ideas very clearly indeed.

This novel was published in 1949 and it's a mark of how sophisticated the SF field was becoming in the hands of such writers as Brown (and Sprague de Camp and a few others) that they were able to twist their imaginations around to d
Aug 12, 2012 TrumanCoyote rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting subtlety which I didn't glom onto the first time I read this: it's not actually what's in the scifi geek's brain, but what the editor guy imagines would be in there. lol The whole thing with the blackouts was very well thought out and extrapolated.
Feb 18, 2014 Lorelei rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sf
Really enjoyable to find some real science fiction in the old style. I enjoyed it very much, and would recommend it to anyone looking for a good, quick read. Not so easy to find anymore, but worth it.
the gift
i have not read pulp sf in its first time so the parody is of a type of lit i know only through critical work. this is ranked as best, incorporating the fans, the writers, the editors, the magazines, in a fantasy about itself. as for work of the sort it is a work about, i prefer the more serious sf work of 'galaxies' by malzburg, but this is fun, repeat: fun. it is written for fans of pulp who have read enough to recognize itself. i have read he influenced philip k dick, this is not dick at his ...more
Romeo Vernazza
Oct 05, 2016 Romeo Vernazza rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Un universo parallelo strambo e divertente. L'ironia un po' cinica di Fredric Brown qui è al suo meglio.
Christian Scala
Assurdo universo è un romanzo di fantascienza scritto da Fredric Brown, pubblicato per la prima volta negli Stati Uniti nel 1949 con il titolo originale What Mad Universe. Il romanzo piacque anche a Federico Fellini che firmò un contratto con Dino De Laurentiis per trarne un film mai realizzato. Alcuni elementi della storia (in particolare la 'Totalnebbia' e un universo parallelo in cui il Colosseo si trova a Londra e l'Inghilterra è retta da un regime autoritario guidato da Margaret Thatcher) s ...more
Cristina Caladia
Brown combina a la perfección el humor, lo absurdo, con una base teórica científica, todo cuadra y aunque suene raro es coherente. Con la explicación del final deja todo cerrado coherentemente.

Lo que más me gusta del autor es el manejo que tiene del lenguaje, la ironía, y cómo maneja la información. Al principio parece el sueño de un loco, de hecho la frase "este es un universo de locos" aparece varias veces en la novela. Pero luego todo tiene sentido, hay un porqué que satisface en un desenlac
Apr 03, 2013 Olethros rated it liked it
-La sátira puede esconderse en cualquier rincón del humor -.

Género. Ciencia-Ficción.

Lo que nos cuenta. Un accidente durante la prueba de un cohete experimental transporta a nuestro protagonista, editor de ciencia-ficción, hacia una realidad paralela que presenta desarrollos técnicos mucho más avanzados (otros no tanto) y en la que estamos bajo la amenaza de los arturianos, alienígenas con malas intenciones.

¿Quiere saber más del libro, sin spoilers? Visite:
Aug 01, 2016 Marie marked it as to-read
"Protagonist Keith Winton, beleaguered editor of Surprising Stories suddenly finds himself in an alternate universe. Like all good alt-unis, this one is exactly like ours save for one small detail: in 1903, a Harvard professor attempting to repair his wife's sewing machine inadvertently invented an interstellar drive."
Jun 18, 2014 Dkolacinski rated it really liked it
An SF classic, somewhat dated, but still pleasurable. What if you were suddenly transported into a parallel world, where someone else were you, and you were in danger because of an intergalactic war? Not PKD, but what is? This still is a fun read.
Rubén Vilaplana
Jul 03, 2016 Rubén Vilaplana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Un impulso eléctrico de grandes dimensiones traslada a nuestro protagonista a un mundo paralelo, en el cual tendrá que enfrentarse a diversas situaciones.
Excelente libro de aventuras con situaciones un tanto previsibles pero con ese toque pulp que lo hace tremendamente adictivo.
Jun 21, 2009 Brett added it
Science Fiction
Tom Britz
Oct 22, 2016 Tom Britz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was a pleasure to read. Imagine the 1940' -50's science fiction field, with all of its bug-eyed monsters and super science with the near naked women gracing all the covers along with the all American buffed hero, then imagine that due to a near by rocket crash with an experimental device on board, that you are thrust into a world where that is your reality. That is what happened to our hero, Keith Winton.

Keith awakens in this new reality wondering where his boss's estate went, where t
Nacho Keiniger
Jan 12, 2017 Nacho Keiniger rated it it was amazing
I started reading What Mad Universe on my way back home, at 4pm, and i finished it at 4am the next day, not because i'm insane(Which has nothing to do with this review) but because this is one of the most addictive books i've read in my life. Brown strategically places brilliant cliffhangers at the end of each chapter so that you are forced to keep reading. And it works.
Either you are a big science fiction fan or you've never read anything remotely related to it, you will love What Mad Universe.
May 02, 2016 Amina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Quand on sait que les romans et nouvelles de Fredric Brown ont été rédigés avant 1972 (année de sa mort), on est étonnés par la fraîcheur et la nouveauté qui s'en dégagent.

Né en 1906, Fredric Brown, auteur américain qui selon sa femme n'aimait pas du tout écrire, débuta avec des romans policiers, fait de suspense et d'humour! Je n'en ai jamais essayé, car je n'en ai pas eu l'occasion.
Mais le suspense et l'humour il les a gardé pour ses nouvelles en SF.

J'ai découvert cet auteur avec un recueil de
Oct 07, 2016 Ghoule rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Un livre de SF à la thématique intéressante - les univers alternatifs - mais à la structure, aux idées et aux personnages vieillots. On croirait lire de la mauvaise SF des années 30. Brown ne fait pas le poids face aux géants de son époque (Asimov et vie).
Steve Stuart
This is a well respected, classic sci fi novel that routinely makes it onto lists of the top books in the genre. It predates the Hugos or Nebulas, or it surely would have won some awards. So I was fairly surprised that I didn't actually enjoy it that much. It's the best novel-length work by a sci-fi author who is better known for his short stories… perhaps that should have told me something.

I suppose the problem is that I can't get enthusiastic about pulp-era science fiction. This is a satire of
Oct 26, 2015 Aries rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantascienza
Fredric Brown è un autore che ho nel cuore da quando, alle medie (mi sembra) lessi il suo meraviglioso racconto "Sentinella".

Meno di frequente mi è capitato di leggere romanzi scritti da lui, forse perché comunque meno facilmente reperibili o chissà per quale altro motivo; è anche per questo che, quando mi capita di trovarne uno in libreria, tendo a comprarlo senza quasi pensarci, proprio per levarmi la curiosità e lo sfizio di approfondire questo autore.

L'edizione di "Assurdo Universo" che ho c
Feb 25, 2012 Williwaw rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: pulp fiction/sf lovers
This is a fast-paced, pulpy, science fiction novel. It's about a pulp magazine editor, Keith Winton, who edits a magazine called "Surprising Stories." (This story first appeared in a magazine called "Startling Stories," and I actually read the magazine version, published in 1948!).

Winton gets blasted into an alternate universe that is in many ways similar to his own, but in many ways different. For one thing, earth is under attack by Arcturians, which has necessitated blanketing all major cities
Basic plot. Someone is transferrerred into a parallel universe some of which seems to be of his own creation. Nothing is quite waht it seems and he has to be careful not to be caught out by performing seemingly mundane day to day tasks which in this universe have serious conswquences.

If you have read my review of "Martians go home" by the same author you will find the next comments familiar.

Having set up interesting plot lines with some depth to the charachters there is a rather abrupt ending (n
Kelly McCubbin
Dec 01, 2015 Kelly McCubbin rated it liked it
Simple idea fleshed out in the way that Brown does so well with fascinating details and a wonderful sense of impending paranoia is scuttled a little as the last third becomes telegraphed and the ending forced and unsatisfying.
This book has a lot going for it and while Brown is rapid-firing clever (and often funny) plot points at it, it rolls along jauntily. But then it starts veering into a tired conclusion without the rest of the novel's verve and, frankly, I just wanted to get through it.
Jul 03, 2013 Echo rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kelly Wagner
Jan 04, 2016 Kelly Wagner rated it really liked it
This was a re-read for me, but it's been over 40 years since the last time I read it. I'm making a little project of re-reading some of the older alternate-universe/alternate history genre. This one's nice, if a bit predictable and quite vague on the science by today's standards. He makes fun quite well of science fiction magazine covers that show girls in bras and swim trunks and transparent spacesuits being mauled by aliens. A good send-up of pulp.
Apr 07, 2011 Felix rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
German Edition - German Review:

Irgendwie auch interessant zu sehen, was man vor über 60 Jahren so als innovative und anspruchsvolle SF angesehen hat. Heutzutage liest es sich wie gehobene Fan-Fiction. Liegt vielleicht auch an der Übersetzung. Die Seitenhiebe auf das SF-Fandom sind nett, der plot dagegen eher hanebüchen und platt-naiv. Nur was für echte Fans, die gerne in Nostalgie schwelgen.
Daniele Gabrieli
Inevitabilmente datato nella forma, ma modernissimo nel modo in cui gioca con gli stereotipi del genere. Molte trovate suonano ancor oggi abbastanza originali. Sarebbe perfetto materiale da cinema: forse non tutti sanno che un regista italiano, tale Fellini Federico, aveva ventilato l'ipotesi di farne un film.
David Allen
Mar 19, 2010 David Allen rated it liked it
The editor of a sci-fi magazine is transported to an alternate universe eerily similar to his own, except that space travel exists, the Earth is at war with bug-eyed monsters and comely women wear minimal clothing. Why, it's almost as if the universe were designed by a sci-fi fan. Slyly imaginative and a fun read.
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Fredric Brown was an American science fiction and mystery writer. He was one of the boldest early writers in genre fiction in his use of narrative experimentation. While never in the front rank of popularity in his lifetime, Brown has developed a considerable cult following in the almost half century since he last wrote. His works have been periodically reprinted and he has a worldwide fan base, m ...more
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