Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Catch A Falling Star

Rate this book
A hundred thousand years from now, Creohan the scholar discovers a star approaching Earth on a deadly collision course. if he can arouse everyone to the danger, there might be time enough to save the world.

But the Earth had become a strange and kaleidoscopic place in that distant era. Too many empires had risen and fallen—humans has become too apathetic, too self-centered to pay attention to the new alarm. Creohan would have to save the world by himself.

The story of his efforts is a brilliant blend of science-fiction and fantasy, and one of John Brunner's most colorful concepts.

213 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1968

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

John Brunner

415 books392 followers
John Brunner was born in Preston Crowmarsh, near Wallingford in Oxfordshire, and went to school at St Andrew's Prep School, Pangbourne, then to Cheltenham College. He wrote his first novel, Galactic Storm, at 17, and published it under the pen-name Gill Hunt, but he did not start writing full-time until 1958. He served as an officer in the Royal Air Force from 1953 to 1955, and married Marjorie Rosamond Sauer on 12 July 1958

At the beginning of his writing career Brunner wrote conventional space opera pulp science fiction. Brunner later began to experiment with the novel form. His 1968 novel "Stand on Zanzibar" exploits the fragmented organizational style John Dos Passos invented for his USA trilogy, but updates it in terms of the theory of media popularised by Marshall McLuhan.

"The Jagged Orbit" (1969) is set in a United States dominated by weapons proliferation and interracial violence, and has 100 numbered chapters varying in length from a single syllable to several pages in length. "The Sheep Look Up" (1972) depicts ecological catastrophe in America. Brunner is credited with coining the term "worm" and predicting the emergence of computer viruses in his 1975 novel "The Shockwave Rider", in which he used the term to describe software which reproduces itself across a computer network. Together with "Stand on Zanzibar", these novels have been called the "Club of Rome Quartet", named after the Club of Rome whose 1972 report The Limits to Growth warned of the dire effects of overpopulation.

Brunner's pen names include K. H. Brunner, Gill Hunt, John Loxmith, Trevor Staines, Ellis Quick, Henry Crosstrees Jr., and Keith Woodcott.
In addition to his fiction, Brunner wrote poetry and many unpaid articles in a variety of publications, particularly fanzines, but also 13 letters to the New Scientist and an article about the educational relevance of science fiction in Physics Education. Brunner was an active member of the organisation Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and wrote the words to "The H-Bomb's Thunder", which was sung on the Aldermaston Marches.

Brunner had an uneasy relationship with British new wave writers, who often considered him too American in his settings and themes. He attempted to shift to a more mainstream readership in the early 1980s, without success. Before his death, most of his books had fallen out of print. Brunner accused publishers of a conspiracy against him, although he was difficult to deal with (his wife had handled his publishing relations before she died).[2]

Brunner's health began to decline in the 1980s and worsened with the death of his wife in 1986. He remarried, to Li Yi Tan, on 27 September 1991. He died of a heart attack in Glasgow on 25 August 1995, while attending the World Science Fiction Convention there

K H Brunner, Henry Crosstrees Jr, Gill Hunt (with Dennis Hughes and E C Tubb), John Loxmith, Trevor Staines, Keith Woodcott

Winner of the ESFS Awards in 1980 as "Best Author" and 1n 1984 as "Novelist"..

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
14 (8%)
4 stars
54 (32%)
3 stars
77 (46%)
2 stars
18 (10%)
1 star
2 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 16 of 16 reviews
Profile Image for Derek.
1,228 reviews9 followers
May 8, 2016
Three stars is a bit generous, perhaps. A "dying earth" style tale in spirit, where humanity itself is primarily at the end, inward-turned and decadent, embracing strange obsessions or sensuous pleasures after a hundred thousand years and multiple rising and falling of various civilizations, none of which aspired to any great achievement.

It starts with elements of Moorcock's Dancers at the End of Time series, where the pleasure-seeking society is cared for by organic mechanisms devised in earlier epochs. But from there it becomes something of a travel adventure through other equally dysfunctional settlements on a wandering path toward a hopeless goal of preventing Earth's destruction. This wandering does explore the Earth of the future, where earlier advanced civilizations, in strange prescience, set up systems to care for humanity in its senescence but systems that are starting to outlast their need and in some cases have run wild.

But as the story progresses this exploration falters and reverts to conventional adventure--capture by savages--before wrapping it up. There's some impressive exposition in the middle as the protagonists discover the entire weight of human history and explore the various dead cultures and their grandiose constructions over fifty thousand years, but this is a footnote on the way through toward a rushed conclusion with surprise ending that makes the entire story something of a shaggy-dog story, where the protagonists realize the real meaning of the incoming rogue star and why they have felt led to their destination.
Profile Image for Elena Druță.
Author 6 books391 followers
April 5, 2017
Să prinzi o stea căzătoare este o aventură cu nuanțe de distopie, amplasată într-o lume fantastică, dar încă apropiată de realitate, cu personaje ce caută răspunsuri și găsesc mai mult de atât.
Continuarea pe blog.
Profile Image for Keary Birch.
202 reviews1 follower
March 28, 2020
John Brunner was an optimist who had ultimate faith in the human race. This book starts slowly and shows a world at the end of its time. The human race is tired and most people don't care. Then Creohan finds out that there is a star on a collision course with the Earth. It won't arrive in his lifetime but he needs to let people know and to find people to help him do something about it. But when no-one cares and most people don't even know where their food comes from, how do you stop a star?

Nice story.
Profile Image for Tentatively, Convenience.
Author 16 books191 followers
September 3, 2014
review of
John Brunner's Catch a Falling Star
- by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - September 3, 2014

I think I've been somewhat resistant to labeling John Brunner a Fantasy Writer b/c I prefer the Science Fiction genre but this bk has convinced me he's a Science Fiction & Fantasy Writer b/c it's yet-another reasonably major work of his along those lines.. - although, "those lines" are pretty ambiguous & this cd really also be called SF. Whatever.

Alas, as w/ so many Brunners I've been reading lately, "A much shorter and substantially different version of this novel appeared under the title The Hundredth Millenium, copyright ©, 1959, by Ace Books, Inc." This version being copyrighted 9 yrs later in 1968. Yawnsville, Daddio, I wish Brunner hadn't taken the typically commercial path of rewriting so many older works.

The bk begins w/ a John Donne quote:

"Go and catch a falling star,
Get with child a mandrake root,
Tell me, where all past years are . . ." - p 2

& I have to wonder whether this brief passage might've been the inspiration for the entire work. "a mandrake root" being 'human shaped', getting it "with child" is evocative of ceremonial magik - also a possible origin tale of the "Trees of History" & the plant-houses that appear in Catch a Falling Star:

"It has been established, for example, that these houses which so cosset and protect us are not a product of the natural order of life, but cunningly fashioned by subtle tampering with vegetable heredity; where today can you find such an artificer as he who contrived the first of them? Likewise the lights that hover nightly in the sky, and render us independent of the fixed return of the sun" - p 9

The far-distant future (or past) described is one in wch people are taken care of by their environment, houses grow from plant seeds, lights fly in the sky & can be called down to illuminate local areas, meat walks to the town & conveniently dies to be delivered as edible packages direct to the home. The people living this life take it for granted, they don't know the origins of these comforts. Some people become "Historickers", people who somehow immerse themselves in the past b/c they consider the present to be an inferior decadent time. This is done w/ the aid of "Houses of History" or "Trees of History".

One such resident, not a Historicker & critical of such escapist immersions, realizes that another sun is approaching the Earth & that in hundreds of yrs it'll burn the surface clean of humanity & other such life-forms. The tale takes off from there on a hero's journey that sometimes borders on Gulliver's Travels in its exaggerated mutations of humanity.

"Cool night breezes tugged at his full beard as he stood listening to the clamour and fitful music of the city going about its night-time affairs. In the far distances he could faintly discern the insane laughter of the next day's meat as it assembled on the gentle slopes of the hills inland prior to descending to the shore and there making rendezvous with its predestined master, Death. Overhead hordes of circling lights blinded the populace against the stars." - p 12

Jump-cut to the journey's having begun & the heroes having encountered a meat-herder for the 1st time in their lives:

""I feel a kind of curse is laid on us! Why are we happy here, tending our beasts and never going further than the brow of our valley? Other men explored the world, sailed the sea, levelled mountains, and that spirit is in me—somewhere!" He thumped his chest with a bunched fist. "It must mean something, that our visitors are separated now by generations when formerly they came in hordes, and every year! I think in short that our lives are going to waste, performing empty tasks for the benefit of distant unknowns who have never given us the benefit of gratitude. Tell me honestly, stranger Creohan: before you encountered Arrheeharr, did you even suspect that we existed?"" - p 83

Jump-cut again to a vanished moon mentioned peripherally, perhaps the reason for the development of the tame flying lights; a vanished moon being a subject in another Brunner bk recently reviewed by me, The Dramaturges of Yan (see my review here: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8... ):

"Before them the Dos had reigned, and the Glygly, and the Ngrotor; before them, the Chatrik, whose domain had not ended with the frontier of the air—but they had been content to plant huge forests of mutated lichens across the face of the now-vanished moon, which ultimately ran wild and digested all the satellite's substance into organic matter that was sprayed out and seeded into nowhere, leaving a mere mist of particles to testify to the former presence of a solid astral body. Likewise they had built pyramidal uninhabitable houses, or temples, on the arid soil of Mars, for a purpose comprehensible only to themselves. They could not have turned aside a star . . ." - p 150

Thusly evoking for me future bks in wch lichen are the 1st space travelers or pyramids on other planets are used as tombs for people who become reincarnated thru gene cloning by far-future beings. Imagine being reborn thru cloning by non-humans billions of yrs from now!

But, I digress, unusually in SF, the bk cover doesn't deliberately mislead the reader into irrelevant fantasies in avoidance of spoilers. Instead, it anticipates an exciting turning point in the plot near the end:

"As they drew closer, they detected an opening in the side of the mountain, not large—perhaps twice as tall as Creohan—and trapezoidal in shape. Limping, they crosse the rough heaps of rock scattered over the threshold, and saw it gave into a passageway whose walls were illumined by pale blue fluorescence, the colour of a summer sky. Beyond, something huge and powerful pulsed, as though they were entering the veins of a beast and listening to its heartbeat. The air was crisp with a scent of electricity." - p 207

Don't worry, I haven't spoiled the plot for you anymore than the bk cover does. The story lies in the getting there.
Profile Image for Razvan Ursuleanu.
217 reviews13 followers
March 29, 2021
Deși așa pare, titlul romanului lui John Brunner nu e o figură de stil. Un astronom descoperă că peste câteva sute de ani un corp ceresc urmează să intre în coliziune cu Pământul și bineînțeles că, în afară de el, lumea nu prea pare a fi îngrijorată de acest lucru. Și de ce ar fi? Societatea modernă, îmbâcsită de confort și doritoare doar de liniște și de bunăstare nu dorește să fie deranjată de astfel de argumente alarmiste… Evenimentul se va petrece la multă vreme după ce toți cei prezenți nu vor mai fi, așa că această situație ar fi bine să îngrijoreze generațiile viitoare, au timp suficient să găsească ele o rezolvare până atunci…

În aproape toate textele pe care le-a scris, John Brunner ori a fost de-a dreptul vizionar, ori a descoperit mereu o nouă formulă literară de prezentare a mentalității refractare de grup, așa cum este cazul acestui roman. Personajele sale sunt foarte rar super eroi și la fel de rar tâmpite. Este simplu pentru un scriitor să se folosească în paginile sale de un geniu sau de un dobitoc, pentru că toate celelalte sunt astfel mult mai ușor de zugrăvit printr-o simplă comparație. Brunner folosește oameni normali, de cele mai multe ori chiar comuni, la el aproape nimeni nu e atât de elevat încât să fie de neînțeles pentru ceilalți și nici atât de rudimentar încât să nu înțeleagă dacă ar avea răbdare să i se explice. Și cred că aceasta este de fapt una dintre cele mai puternice palme pe care o poate aplica un scriitor unei omeniri de cele mai multe ori apatice la aproape orice se întâmplă în jurul ei. Vina pentru dezastrele din prezent și pentru eventualele dezastre viitoare aparține de cele mai multe ori oamenilor obișnuiți, lipsiți total de reacție, o stare pe care și-au asumat-o în mod conștient.

Nota acordată romanului : 8,2

Profile Image for Claudiu.
181 reviews29 followers
October 2, 2012
I find that I may be treating this book a bit harshly. I did enjoy it, more towards the end than at any other point. The setting was interesting, the characters were all pleasant and the concept was sound.

But the writing...
The writing killed my enjoyment of this. Overly grandiose, overly preachy, overly excited...it simply got me eye rolling so often that it made the whole thing unbearable at times.
It may be due to the translation that I had.
It may just be due to the fact that it resembled a fairy tale - which I am not entirely sure if it was intentional or not -.
It may be due to a host of other reasons, but it was still a strange book to read...and an enjoyable ride. Could have been honestly better.
It could have been worse.

It was decent, escapist fun. John Brunner is indeed a very mixed bag writer.
Profile Image for Kai.
157 reviews11 followers
January 25, 2021
This was some strangely surreal book. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but it turned out to be a much more unique experience than I anticipated. Like the science-fiction take on The Wizard of Oz, and also deeply allegorical in nature.

In the distant future, a man discovers that in about 300 years a star will pass by Earth in such close proximity that it will be left a dead and barren place. Given the fact that they will be long dead by then, the people around him are completely indifferent towards this fateful collision. Appalled by their attitude, the man sets out on a journey to find others who like him mourn the seemingly inevitable fate of their home planet. Others join him in his journey and soon they are set for the much more ambitions aim, to actually find a way to save the Earth.

The world in which Catch a Falling Star is set is truly fascinating. For one thing, it depicts in many ways bizarre caricatures of fantasy tropes. On their journey, our heroes meet dwarfs that are determined to conquer the cities of the taller people (if only they could find any). There is a people of scholars, who in their passive stance and ingenuity resemble many wizardry orders; and there is a people of engineers, who isolated as they are rediscover technologies such as airships and telescopes (generating an almost steampunk-y atmosphere). They come upon desolate cities and are attacked by hairy forest dwellers.

More importantly, it is a world that is in many ways all too familiar. The people live comfortably in houses that fully realized the dreams of smart home technology. Even though a sense of curiosity is not entirely dead, few find the courage to leave their comfort zone (or even the closest surroundings of their homes). In fact, the scenario is very similar to what the Time Traveller finds in The Time Machine. Even though they make everyday use of futuristic technology and live in affluency for which they do not need to provide anything, rarely people stop and think about where all this is coming from and their ingeniosity has long been exhausted. Their only interest is in the old world, something they may vividly experience in the houses of history and that they seek out like drugs.

From the moment the man leaves his home town, the story is very episodic. From early on he is joined by a nature-dwelling young woman and together they set out to find an old man of which they know that in his youth he had traveled the world. They meet a girl who is waiting for the return of her lover, but what they find is rather bestial. They meet shepherds who's flock brings a disturbing fact to light. They meet the already mentioned dwarfs and discover how much theirs is a world of ruins. They travel the sea and meet the people of scholars and also the people of hope-giving engineers. When they encounter earless humanoid monsters, knowledge of past tinkering with the human genotypes scarily come to mind. Finally, their journey leads them to a location that is almost like the holy mountain, where the story finds what I think is a satisfying conclusion.

Only rather diffuse motivations form the arc that holds these episodes together. Throughout the story, the characters express only a very vague understanding for what they are actually looking for. At another point, it is revealed that it was actually fear - fear that he may die before he even scratched the surface of the world's secrets and fear that she may die before making her mark on the world - that made the two main travelers set out. Other characters have much more mundane reasons. I'm sure this sense of disorientation is one of reasons why the story has such a powerful symbolic dimension.

As as story, though, I think this would have worked much better if it had been more character-driven. Different people join and leave the party throughout, and at least in theory their roles they are interesting. However, there is very little personality and almost no personal stakes. So, even though I had no problems to write down the above-given recap of the events in the book, I wouldn't be able to say what really happened to them. To be honest, I don't even remember any of their names (and I just finished the book two hours ago).

So, this is the kind of book where I really loved the setting and I thought these themes of dwelling in the past, and learning from the past to prevent a future catastrophe, were amazingly powerful. I'm also a huge fan of fantasy worlds grounded in science-fiction. If only it had stronger characters, this really could have been a great novel.

Rating: 3.5/5
Profile Image for Kent.
350 reviews2 followers
September 7, 2017
This book started out seeming to be without any direction, but it turned out pretty good. It's a novel of a journey of a man and a woman who are searching for a society that would have the intellect and mental disposition to help stop a star coming toward Earth, which would hit in 300 years. This takes place 100,000 years in the future where humans have become very self-absorbed and defunct of any scientific interests after the rise and fall of countless empires. Their journey takes them to lands and people they didn't know existed. For all they knew their society was the only one left in the world.
The journey takes them halfway around the world where they find the answers they are looking for.
Overall it's a decent sci-fi story, though nowhere near as detailed and intricate as his more famous books.
Profile Image for Tony.
45 reviews3 followers
December 20, 2017
The strangest Brunner novel I've read to date, though quite interesting and with compelling characters.
Profile Image for Radu Harabula.
82 reviews9 followers
January 28, 2019
O căutare mesianica, hai sa salvam Pământul de ciocnirea cu o stea... Nu știm cum, cu ce, cu cine, dar cautam.
Într-un viitor îndepărtat, la 2 milioane de ani după apariția lui homo sapiens, după multe cicluri civilizaționale, omenirea și-a pierdut vigoarea, și-a epuizat forța creatoare, pare ca a ajuns la sfârșit.
Multe modificări genetice pe partea de vegetal (casele sunt un fel de urmase a unor plante, cu oarecare inteligenta, care își apară stăpânul) și animal (pasări fluorescente care plutesc în văzduh, turme de carne, balene cu fata umana). Una din principalele preocupări este studiul istoriei, a trecutului, chiar scufundarea în trecut și imitarea acestuia cu ajutorul unor Case ale Istoriei în care se explorează memoria ancestrala la nivel molecular (asta cu studiul istoriei și cu discuția din jurul acestui studiu mi-a adus aminte un pic de Cartea judecații de apoi).

Un pasionat de stele descoperă o cometa care se îndreaptă spre Pământ iar ciocnirea va avea loc peste 300 de ani.Încearcă sa tragă un semnal de alarma dar nimeni nu e interesat, toți sunt plictisiți, dezabuzați, nu ii interesează.
Întâlnește pe plaja o tipa care tocmai ieșise din ocean, de la prietenii ei de sub ape și împreună (un pasionat de stele și o pasionata de adâncuri) pleacă în căutarea unei soluții pentru salvarea Pământului.
O călătorie cu fel de fel de aventuri: se întâlnesc cu pastorii turmelor de carne - bipede cu o urma de inteligenta, crescute și trimise către orașe ca materie prima pentru hrana (motivul apare și în Oameni în jungla a lui Spinrad). Păstorii ăștia aveau un bazin genetic închis, toți erau frați intre ei (chiar dacă erau de ambe sexe), iar viitorul, copii, nu arata foarte bine. Iar singurul pastor care da semne de inteligenta, neliniștitul, cel care conștientizează rutina și vrea sa o rupă cu ea, cel responsabil cu transmiterea mai departe a poveștilor și învățămintelor înaintașilor, pleacă cu ei mai departe.

continuarea pe ... si vreme(a) e ca sa citim
March 28, 2012
I read this little book in my early teens, back in the 70's and I have kept the paperback in my collection over the years. It's magical, wonderful story captured my imagination as no other since, and though it now seems somewhat simplistic given the time it was written, it still holds a special magic and will remain in my library for many more years to come. I have read this book several times, and each time is as amazing to me as the first.
Profile Image for Florin Constantinescu.
471 reviews23 followers
June 20, 2017
Generic science fantasy novel.
While the writing style is okay, there is absolutely nothing to write home to mama about here.
No out of the ordinary character or plot twists.
Profile Image for Alvaro Zinos-Amaro.
Author 63 books53 followers
April 20, 2017
Strange book. Rewritten version of novel published earlier as part of Ace double and earlier still in magazine form. Evocative Dying-Earth atmosphere & visionary power, but some of the writing is way over the top (like the opening line!). Nice twist right at the end.
Displaying 1 - 16 of 16 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.