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3.71 of 5 stars 3.71  ·  rating details  ·  648 ratings  ·  54 reviews
If Charles Dickens has written speculative fiction, he might have created a novel as intricate, passionate, and lacerating as Thomas M. Disch's visionary portrait of the underbelly of 21st-century New York City. The residents of the public housing project at 334 East 11th Street live in a world of rationed babied and sanctioned drug addiction. Real food is displayed in mus ...more
Published April 4th 1974 (first published 1972)
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Paul Bryant

Disch coulda been a contender. From 1965 to around 1972 he was on fire, the living breathing cursing drugged up gay personification of New Wave SF, which was a whole thing where JG Ballard’s the only alien planet is Earth and exploring Inner Space not Outer Space was the thing to do. New Wave SF became a feature of the counterculture, and I’d like to explain all that but I’m exhausted thinking about it. There was a lot going on in those years. Not just John & Yoko. And in SF there was a big
Like most of Thomas Disch, this book is criminally underrated. It's a series of episodes centering around the same set of characters, living in a dystopian near-future New York City; it's hard to know whether to call it a loosely-structured novel, or a tightly integrated collection of short stories. The most natural comparison point is a movie like Short Cuts, Magnolia or Crash, with multiple intersecting story-lines and a big ensemble cast.

My favorite sequence must be Angouleme, where a bunch
Pete Young
This is the novel (or more correctly, set of linked stories) which for many showed how Disch was often too clever by half for the rest of us. The novella ‘Angouleme’ included here was the subject of a book-length critical essay by Samuel R. Delany, who argued that despite the absence of scientific themes its speculative setting made it inherently science fiction. A snapshot of the 21st century lives of the people who live in 334 East 11th St, New York, it ranges from being at turns darkly comic ...more
This confirms my belief that Disch is the best writer no one has ever heard of. The first half of this are somewhat interconnected short stories in the not too distant future which range from entertaining (Bodies), disorienting (Everyday Life), strangely sweet (Emancipation), chilling (Death of Socrates), and phenomenal (Angouleme). The second half are vignettes about a family living in a lower income housing project of a not too distant dystopian future New York. Its skilled kaleidoscopic prese ...more
Another very dark and sick speculative fiction. You name it, this book has it - murder, suicide, incest, prostitution, necrophilia, exotic sex, racism, etc. There isn't much of storyline except that each story takes place in or around the grim apartment complex 334 and has many members of common family. It uses a poor technique seen quite a lot in the 60s and 70s of extrapolating situations to the dire end. To add to the confusion, the second half of the book jumps non-linearly through time.
Allan Dyen-shapiro
How is it that I'd never heard of this guy? Within the last few months, I read his three most critically acclaimed novels, and each is better than the last. 334 is actually a series of vignettes, all centered on a particular government housing project in NYC whose address is 334. Disch uses science fiction in order to accomplish satire, to stretch to the level of ridiculous. However, he's talking about the daily lives of most Americans. His subjects are average people--no remarkable types here. ...more
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-Distopía depresiva y descorazonadora donde las haya.-

Género. Ciencia-Ficción.

Lo que nos cuenta. En un futuro cercano, en el 334 Este Calle Undécima de Manhattan hay un edificio que forma parte de los proyectos federales MODICUM, con sólo un 30% más de habitantes que el número óptimo planificado y en el que viven o con el que tienen relación diferentes personajes cuyas vidas, a veces sólo pinceladas de las mismas, vamos conociendo. Novela compuesta por diferentes relatos y novelas cortas relacio
Brilliantly written book about the imagined future in New York circa 2020. The writer has a feel for the place and the first several stories are great, especially the woman who uses drugs to dream of being an ancient Roman matron and even has a therapist to help her live the fantasy, the invasion of the barbarians overlaid onto modern New York. The coherence starts to fray at the edges when we get to 334 itself. I never understood all of the interrelations among the characters. Probably a second ...more
Scott von Berg
Well, first off, it’s colored as science fiction, along the lines of Fahrenheit 451, Brave New World, or 1984, in the style of “bleak land of the future”… centering less on the bigger political issues, and more on day-to-day life.

334 is a collection of short stories, focusing on characters that to some degree or another connect back to a single three-generation family living in Building #334; tenement housing subsidized by the government.

The most interesting non-story element of the book is the
This one was meh. Thomas Disch was writing at the tail-end of the New Wave science fiction movement back in the early 70s. He wrote well enough, (certainly better than Samual Delaney), but I've always found him to be too understated for my tastes. 334 is a dystopian novel that centers around a government run housing project/building where several different characters interact throughout the novel. The future, as Disch imagined it in 1974, was not looking especially bright: there is poverty, soci ...more
The book composed of several short stories each having something to do with the address in Manhattan, 334 East 11th Street. What is our future? Are the owners of it technocrats? Can our biological needs and sexual desires tally with the advance of science, especially medical? To these and many other questions this book tries to answer.

Birdie is a student, an apt one. He passes many exams successfully. He meets with his future love, Millie. Suddenly, The Regent System called MODICUM tells him th
Stumbling across Disch's "The Brave Little Toaster Goes to Mars" (which I plan to read) triggered the dormant synapse that I had read "334" a long time ago, in a galaxy far away (i.e, Washington, D.C., 1978). I had just finished "A Canticle for Liebowitz" and was looking for something a little edgier and immediate. "334" is not exactly what I would call "science fiction". There were flashes of brilliance and humor in the loosely-connected chapters of the book, written almost as free-standing sho ...more
A Dickensian dystopia, this is a future as bleak as it can get. Told in short stories that were fashioned into a novel, this book describes a welfare state gone mad. A very good read.
Jessica Donohoe
I'd give it 4 stars, generally, but just 3 for Disch. He keeps my expectations very, very high.


They're still up there. It's just, you know, he is to. Up there. In the ether.
Really unconvincing, really wasn't enjoying it, couldn't bring myself to finish it because I just didn't care.

I think maybe I'm getting burned out on New Wave SF in general.
Feb 16, 2013 Michael rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Disch fans, new wave scifi enthusiasts, New Yorkers
Recommended to Michael by: Tom Maddox
This is a very good book, but that's not to say that it's fun to read. It isn’t science fiction in the normal sense of being about advanced technology or a predicted future that is different from the present in which the author lives. Instead, it can be seen as a story stemming from the impulse: “My God, what if things just go on the way they are?”

What’s disturbing about it in some ways is that it seems far more accurate in its cynicism than many of the more positive science fiction of the 1970
Bart Everson
Like Nova, this is a good novel by an author capable of greatness. I admire Disch, and was saddened when he took his life last year. I have a collection of his stories, entitled Fun with Your New Head that is amongst my very favorite books.

334 is called a novel, but it fits that descriptor loosely. It reads more like a collection of interrelated stories. (And indeed my friend Frank described it as a classic example of a "fix up" novel, since some of the stories were published separately first.)
Of the "important" scifi readers I've read over the past few months, I'd put Disch as a close second to Philip K. Dick. And, I will give this review over to explaining why the books of Disch that I've read are better (in my opinion) than the others I've read.
1) He doesn't invent as much as he extrapolates. There aren't too many rocket ships. Instead it's an analysis of what a world that had television so integrated into its system would look like by someone who was just getting used to it.
2) Th
334 is a fairly enjoyable read.

As a novel written in the 70's, I liked how the author was able to take very taboo subjects at that time and make them a usual occurrence in his world. Homosexual marriage, the role reversal of fathers and mothers, and restrictions on childbirth were discussed with an air of indifference, as though it were commonplace. Well done!

However, as a novel where various people and storylines intersect with each other throughout the book, my one complaint would have to be t
Impressive and grim, this still unusual dystopian novel unfortunately suffers from poor ageing on the same level as Stevenson's "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde". In other words, it is VERY 70s. Nobody ever said science fiction was supposed to predict the future, but even the excesses depicted in this novel stretch credibility. Even so, I highly recommend it as one of the best works by one of my favorite authors.
Unsettling and grim view of a megalopolitan near-future embodying all of the social concerns of the late 1960s and early 1970s, many of which were subsequently ignored and now seem to be coming more or less to fruition right on schedule. Not a police state-type dystopia, but one of the planned-society-so-humanity-can-eke-out-an-existence-in-the-face-of-converging-long-emergencies variety. A little too hopeless for my taste, with characters that are little more than "dumb, resigned victims" (to q ...more
I enjoyed this--the first half felt very much like a near-future dystopian Confederacy of Dunces. But about halfway through, the book's structure changed in a way that didn't work quite as well for me. A series of micro-chapters featured characters who ultimately felt so similar to each other that I frankly began to lose track of who was who. As a result, the personal, character-driven element of the story largely dropped out and I only kept reading because of Disch's compelling prose and provoc ...more
Could not get into this book. Most of the time, I hated the characters and their vague situations. Disgusting and angry are great descriptors for almost every character of the story. Couldn't find redeeming qualities in this book.
Clive Warner
At first reading I didn't take to this novel. It seemed like an awfully grim tale of some dysfunctional people stuck in a grimy and decaying apartment building.
This is really the opposite of a post-apocalyptic novel, I suppose, in that it shows the decline and decay of our modern world as it suffers from food shortages, increasing pollution, insufficient housing, illness - due to the cost of treatment - and so forth.
However, I began to identify with the characters and although it doesn't have th
Marian Allen
I stopped reading this book. I know that the gentleman who loaned it to my grandson who loaned it, unread, to me would say I stopped because I'm a prude. There may be a grain of truth in that. At the time 334 was written, it was cutting edge to be as blunt as possible about sex, and the mere fact of putting it ... er ... in your face, as it were, was an artistic statement. Disch uses his characters' thoughts and experiences with sex to good effect--telling us about the characters and society in ...more
Disch's prose can still be surprising and witty and lovely here, but the rest… The plot and the character and the structure are all opaque and confusing in a way that promises payoff when you first encounter them, but then nothing much develops. It's a book I can imagine being obsessed with, for its frustrating flaws. Maybe they're actually signs of genius? Nah?
A.E. Shaw

I didn't enjoy this at all. Always fascinating to see the reviews for these things, really. I just don't find it sharp or clever or funny or pointed...the characters are vile, the stories don't come through to me at all, the language is weak and the structure isn't one. It feels like a rushed, experimental work that didn't come off. I've read and liked other things by Disch, and have another of his to read next, so it'll be interesting to see how that compares. This definitely felt like a let-do
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Poet and cynic, Thomas M. Disch brought to the sf of the New Wave a camp sensibility and a sardonicism that too much sf had lacked. His sf novels include Camp Concentration, with its colony of prisoners mutated into super-intelligence by the bacteria that will in due course kill them horribly, and On Wings of Song, in which many of the brightest and best have left their bodies for what may be genu ...more
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“The end of the world. Let me tell you about the end of the world. It happened fifty years ago. Maybe a hundred. And since then it's been lovely. I mean it. Nobody tries to bother you. You can relax. You know what? I like the end of the world.” 9 likes
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