Alex Sarll's Reviews > The Sheep Look Up

The Sheep Look Up by John Brunner
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Aug 05, 2011

Read from August 05 to 11, 2011

John Brunner's The Sheep Look Up was released in 1972, and is the story of a near-future humanity sleepwalking into ecological collapse. You can see where I'm going with this, can't you? And yet, if the only problem with his Stand on Zanzibar was that its dystopian vision of circa now was actually too optimistic*, then here he's a little too far the other way. Yes, we can all recognise this world:
"The government couldn't go on forever bailing out mismanaged giant corporations , even though it was their own supporters, people who ranted against "UN meddling" and "creeping socialism", who yelled the loudest for Federal aid when they got in a mess."**
But with condoms now a fact of life everywhere except the most mediaevalistic of backwaters, details such as the endemic, persistent STDs are still a little far-fetched. Aren't they? OK, and the pests which have out-evolved the pesticides, maybe they were a good call. And the shops which profit from the demand to eat organic - and be seen to eat organic - while in fact pushing the same old crap. And the "riots among Britain's five million unemployed". But precisely because of the concerns of Brunner's generation, we have dodged some of the evils he saw coming - you can still walk on the grass beneath a blue sky in the heart of a major Western city, and breathe unassisted (well, unless the weather is especially smog-friendly that day). And thank heavens for that, for the degree to which the casual sexism and racism which lasts into his distinctly seventies future is now the province only of random park-bench drunks, for the fact that "Paper, which consumes irreplaceable trees" need no longer be such a hot-button issue both because it doesn't anymore, and because it's being bypassed. Not that we can quite rest easy, of course, but it's not as bad anymore as it looked to the clear-sighted forty years ago. Or at least, it isn't quite yet.
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message 1: by Alex (new) - added it

Alex Sarll No, I have no idea where the footnotes went.


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