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3.7  ·  Rating details ·  868 Ratings  ·  73 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 babies and sanctioned drug addiction. Real food is displayed in mus ...more
Paperback, 258 pages
Published April 27th 1999 by Vintage (first published 1972)
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Glenn Russell
Sep 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing

“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.”
― Thomas M. Disch, 334

Thomas M. Disch’s 1974 novel, a mix of science fiction and Zola-like social realism, eyeballs 334 East 11th Street, New York City, home to a teeming mass of miserable, poverty-stricken occupants of a 21st century
Dec 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Paul Bryant
Dec 20, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: sf-novels-aaargh

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
Aug 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Allan Dyen-Shapiro
Mar 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Pete Young
Nov 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
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
Bob Rust
May 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The Near Future is set in a degraded Manhattan; the stories, whose linkings are so subtle and elaborate that it is possible and probably desirable to read the book as a novel, pivot about the apartment building whose address (334 East 11th Street) is the title of the book. 334 comprises a social portrait of City life in about 2025 CE in a New York where existence has become even more difficult, intense and straitened than it is now and where the authorities treat humans no better than Disch's Al ...more
Nov 12, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I nearly gave up on this book about 30 pages in, but I stuck with it and am glad. Disch is an impressive writer, with poetic turns of phrase and artfully unusual constructions. I grew to like the characters, despite their flaws, though I wanted more of Alexa and the very interesting idea of time-travel-as-therapy. The storyline is intricate, and near the end I had to refer back earlier sections because of the twists and turns and intersections (the diagram of the last third of the book was great ...more
Laura LVD
Esta "novela", si es que se la puede calificar de novela, es muy atípica. Es una serie de relatos sobre los habitantes de un edificio en una New York del futuro - el 334 del título. La sociedad está en decadencia y la mayoría de los habitantes tienen apenas lo básico, proporcionado por una agencia gubernamental (MODICUM) y hay una élite de ingenieros y programadores. Tampoco se pueden reproducir libremente debido a la escasez de recursos, hay que pasar una serie de tests para ello.
Los dos primer
Jul 08, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: top-200-scifi
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.
Jessica Donohoe
Jun 12, 2008 rated it really liked it
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.
Apr 11, 2008 rated it did not like it
Shelves: putasidefornow, 2008
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.
Jan 30, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Sometimes you have a book which you just keep reading because you're sure something will - if not actually happen -coalesce from the strands to make it interesting. "334" (and do not be swayed by the false promise of the spaceship cover) is quite simply a tiresome, difficult mess. A cast of barely distinguishable characters fail to live well in a sketchily realised future society. Any potential is wrecked by the scattershot rendering of disengaging prose. If anything happens it's told in such a ...more
Bart Everson
Dec 16, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: octavia-sf
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.)
Dec 23, 2010 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 17, 2015 rated it liked it
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
Dec 17, 2013 rated it liked it
-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
Nov 05, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: could-not-finish
So I bought this book around 16 years ago when I first moved to Florida. At the time I was a working on a huge tracking project that had the project code 334. This project is what allowed me to move to Florida and keep my job, because no one else was familiar with the project, so my company had to let me work from home. Anyway, I thought the connection was interesting.

Unfortunately, I finally started reading it (long after project 334 had ended and I changed jobs) and didn't like it at all. Whe
Marian Allen
Jun 23, 2010 rated it did not like it
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
Nov 29, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 05, 2007 rated it really liked it
Inventive and very complex...very dark and confusing at times..there is very little like this book no matter whether or not you find it enjoyable...some very powerful scenes spread throughout...
Jul 01, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
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.
Jan 31, 2018 rated it did not like it
read the first story/chapter and then accepted this just isn't my jam.. skimmed, stopped and read, skipped, stopped, drudgery in text form... New Wave Sci-Fi, Dystopian Fiction, whatever the hell you want to call it, this did not work for me at all... maybe in the chronological development of science fiction this charted new territory or was some sort of diversion or possibly some Dadaist way of approaching the growing depersonalization of the world or just as likely there were lots of drugs and ...more
Christopher Roberts
Here is one of those books I don't really care for that nonetheless I feel it must be completely my fault. I read Disch's Camp Concentration and really liked it. Disch is just a much better writer in terms of style and dialogue than almost any other sci-fi writer of his generation. The reason he's not more famous, I suspect, is he is horrible with plot, and his characters tend to be a bit too broad and cartoonish to resonate. At least those were commonalities with both of these books. Disch is ...more
Man, this one was WEIRD. When I first read the synopsis, it sounded right up my alley; dystopian/alternate reality fiction is something I read above all other types of novels. I liked the first few sections - The Death of Socrates left me with a sick taste in my mouth, and Bodies was especially disgusting. But the middle of this novel fell apart, as far as I’m concerned... it was difficult to understand what was going on, and the connections to characters weren’t as strong as the first section. ...more
David Rugge
Oct 03, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: science-fiction
This book was so fragmented in time and setting that I had trouble connecting with any of the characters until nearly the very end. I got the feeling that the second half of the book was written in chronological order, but then Disch took a pair of scissors to the manuscript, threw all of the fragments in a hat, and drew them out one by one to make the book seem more clever than it actually was. Parts of the book were a good read, especially the first few chapters and the last few, but I was dis ...more
May 10, 2017 rated it liked it
This is a very good book but it's also very depressing. I recommend having a funny book lined up once you finish it.
Richard Anderson
Oct 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Perplexing, cubistic novel about the practically unabidable future. Ahead of its time.
Chiefdonkey Bradey
A vivid and heart rending soap opera in dystopia
Wade Duvall
Mar 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi, new-wave
Every time I read Disch I can't understand why he's not as well known as Dick, Le Guin and other New Wave scifi writers. 334 is an amazing work of art. It utilizes extremely nonlinear storytelling, yet I never felt lost, confused, or annoyed. It tells the story of the residents of building 334 set in "dystopian" (think Transmetropolitan) New York City. It is effectively a slice of life story. Now, I generally despise slice of life stories, but Disch finds a way to make the dull minutiae of life ...more
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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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