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Stand on Zanzibar

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  15,827 ratings  ·  628 reviews
Norman Niblock House is a rising executive at General Technics, one of a few all-powerful corporations. His work is leading General Technics to the forefront of global domination, both in the marketplace and politically—it's about to take over a country in Africa. Donald Hogan is his roommate, a seemingly sheepish bookworm. But Hogan is a spy, and he's about to discover a ...more
Paperback, 672 pages
Published August 12th 1999 by Gollancz (first published September 1968)
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Kathie I first read this as an adolescent and it was absolutely spellbinding. Re-read it as an adult and found no reason to change my opinion.

I first read this as an adolescent and it was absolutely spellbinding. Re-read it as an adult and found no reason to change my opinion.


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Mar 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Stand on Zanzibar by John Brunner is an amazing book.

First of all, the title comes from the idea of putting all the people on the planet in one place. A nineteenth century commentator speculated that if everyone were to stand, and have maybe a couple feet square around him or her, then everyone could stand together on the Isle of Wight. Some time later this concept was expanded due to population increases to speculate that the same experiment could be done on the Isle of Man. Brunner, setting h
mark monday
:: Stand on Zanzibar is one of my favorite novels ::

Stand on Zanzibar (50th Anniversary Collection)

a) Stand on Zanzibar is about overpopulation. if the entire world's population were to stand on Zanzibar, it would sink.

b) Stand on Zanzibar is about information. how is it processed? what does it really mean?

c) Stand on Zanzibar is about the evils and cupidity of corporatization. it is about how a corporation may be able to do a good thing, despite itself.

d) Stand on Zanzibar is about the evils and stupidity of the State. it provides many
Henry Avila
This psychedelic novel, is set in the far distant future, 2010! When we can look forward to picture phones, holographic t.v. sets , Moon bases looking down on the poor, struggling, threatened Earth, and battery powered cars everywhere, (can't wait) but no cell phones or internet, the book was written in 1968, which shows how useless forecasting the future is, if the obvious has to be stated again... The happening man is Mr.Norman Niblock House, he lives in a domed Manhattan, the rest of New York ...more
Mario the lone bookwolf
During the wild 60s, Brunner wrote an amazing novel about overpopulation, corporatocracy, everyday terror and permanent infodump by news media and corporations and described a setting that came true in many details.

Sure, he was a bit too optimistic regarding genetic engineering and too pessimistic regarding totalitarian tendencies, but some passages could be out of a present time history book. More Social Sci-Fi than focused on action, Brunner describes a complete unleashed market, PR- and comme
Glenn Russell

Astonishing. Eyeopening. Among the most prescient novels ever written.

Published in 1968 but set in 2010, Stand on Zanzibar by British author John Brunner accurately predicts an entire host of profound changes that have taken place in our early 21st century. To note a baker's dozen:

1. The population of Earth will exceed seven billion around 2010, enough people the island of Zanzibar's 600 square miles would be needed for the world's population to stand shoulder to shoulder.

2. A small computer in
Mar 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi
Some novels should only be read once. On my second read, I wanted to downgrade my estimation of the novel by a star.

I felt sad.

Sure. Shalmaneser was and still is my go-to model for a hell of a kick-ass supercomputer developing true intelligence and will, with all of it's concomitant problems, such as addiction and hallucination. (How very 1969 of a novel, Mr. Brunner.)

And yes, when I first read this back in 1990, I was surprised and oh so pleased by all the counterculture, drug use, clandestine
Dec 26, 2008 rated it really liked it
Definitely one of the best SF dystopias, which IMHO deserved more attention. OK, it's fair that "1984" and "Brave New World" received greater critical acclaim - there's no doubt that they are better. But there must be a hundred people who have read them for every one who's read Zanzibar, and that's not an accurate reflection of the difference in quality. Brunner has some interesting things to say that you won't find in either of the other two books, and he writes quite well.

By the way, in case y
Jul 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Stand on Zanzibar and The Sheep Look Up were two of my favourite books at university, and the covers even appear in my Master's Thesis.

Brunner wrote a few truly awful sci-fi books early in his career, and then "something happened (LSD?)", and then he wrote these two masterpieces. Truly Awesome books!

Set in 2010, note that the book features a president named "Obomi" !!

Full size image here
Megan Baxter
Jul 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
That was 600+ pages of sheer eccentricity! Not in a bad way, but wow. I love books like this, that push the boundaries in some way, play around with indirect narrative. As long as they know why they're doing it. This one did.

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.

In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook
6.0 stars (One of my All Time Favorites). A staggering novel. Rich in characters, a superbly crafted story that moves very quickly and deals with some very important issues. I absolutely loved this book and consider it one of the true classics of Science Fiction.

Winner: Hugo Award for Best Science Fiction Novel (1969)
Nominee: Nebula Award for Best Science Fiction Novel (1969)
Winner: Britsh Science Fiction Award for Best Novel (1970)
Erik Graff
May 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: sf
Reading this before discovering Dos Passos' 'U.S.A.', I was mightily impressed by Brunner's originality of technique. Discovering 'U.S.A.', I was even more impressed by Dos Passos, of course, but did not fault Brunner's employment of the other's proven methods for painting an enormous, richly textured picture of a possible future.

The book was anxiety-provoking in 1969. The accuracy of many of Brunner's predictions makes one wonder about the increasingly large subgenre of science fiction books wh
Jul 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi
Why oh Why are cynics, skeptics, pessimists and satirists such good oracles. I know things are nowhere near that bad, but there are a lot of good predictions there with a whole lot of counter sprinkled culture all over. And now John Brunner is correct about the Chinese being the first to start editing the human genome, we have the technology to create Mr. and Mrs. Everywhere (deep fakes) and us leaving more and more decisions for AIs. The books main cynic Chad C. Mulligan is even temporarily def ...more
So I'm going to have to let this one marinate for a while... I will say it's incredibly, depressingly prescient. My second book by Brunner. It wasn't a fluke, clearly the man is a soothsayer with his prognostications on population growth, race, LGBT, mass killings, legalization of marijuana, population control (one child policy), Artificial Intelligence, wars fought in skirmishes, terrorists, price increases 6 fold since the 60s, European Union, China as our biggest economic rival, the loss of m ...more
6.0 stars (One of my All Time Favorites). A staggering novel. Rich in characters, a superbly crafted story that moves very quickly and deals with some very important issues. I absolutely loved this book and consider it one of the true classics of Science Fiction.

Winner: Hugo Award for Best Science Fiction Novel (1969)
Nominee: Nebula Award for Best Science Fiction Novel (1969)
Winner: Britsh Science Fiction Award for Best Novel (1970)
Jan 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is not a proper review. I just want to share my opinion.

One of the fictitious nation on this novel, Yatakang, is a good analogy/shadowing of Indonesia at second half of 1960s period condition. Maybe that helps me to give high rating for this book. There isn't many SF books that picturing the Indonesia as details as this book. Until now, this is the best that I have found so far.
Mar 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was impressive!

Not so much the plot, which is somewhere in the background and not really that exciting. No, this book is much more about the detailed worldbuilding, the narration choice of mixing chapters of background information, hectic news/add chapters and the plot itself into a whole that masterfully illustrates a world of overpopulation and anxiety.

It feels like an artificial creation, but one that really works.

Above all for a book from 1968 Brunner writes in a tone that today still
Apr 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best SF dystopias from the late 60s about overpopulation in the future, and deserving of a much broader audience. One of my early high school favorites.
Jul 16, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some love this book and some hate it. I find myself more in between, because this is a serviceable novel, with occasional exciting and insightful bits, but not one that coheres or gels in a satisfactory way. Yes, the narrative technique Brunner used to tell his story was, I guess, unique at the time it was written, but I believe its "experimental" nature has been grossly exaggerated. Basically, there is a definite plot in the middle of all this, a rather dull one, but it is interspersed with adv ...more
Aug 14, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to knig by: Mark Monday
Shelves: 2012
I asked sci fi guru Mark for a recommendation, and I all I got was this Stand on Zanzibar. (Well, Dhalgren as well, but that may have to wait for another lifetime). Well phew. Climbing Mount Everest might have been a tad easier than ploughing through this ....erm, actually, Mark may have threatened me with Shalmaneser obliteration if I don’t show proper encomium so I better not say ...this clunker. Well, but it is: its chunky and clunky and all 1960s ‘groovy baby’ and full of revolutionary hype ...more
Jason Pym
Jul 20, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: science-fiction
I understand this was a breakthrough novel for 1967, and it is full of ideas that are staggering for the time it was written, but for me this didn't work as a story. The characters leave me cold (with the exception of Chad Mulligan - he was great), which is a problem for such a long book.

I like the idea of all these snap shots of the world, like a photomontage, but it would have worked better if they were fleshed out a bit more, given a more personal focus. And as for the two main plots that em
Dec 20, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 6-stars, sci-fi
this is perhaps one of the most prescient science fiction novels ever written.

i picked this up relatively recently, aware that it had a certain reputation as a classic of the genre, but also expecting it to have aged relatively badly, like many classics of the time. i was aiming to fill a gap in my reading, but wasn't expecting it to be particularly enjoyable.

as it is i was very pleasantly surprised. Brunner's style is very contemporary and not in the least stuffy. his speculative science, thoug
Barry Cunningham
Mar 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I bought and read this book in 1968, it is without doubt one of the most amazing Sci-Fi books of all time. All these years later the foresight Brunner had is alarming. "Muckers" for example where people who went inexplicably mad in public places, indiscriminately killing as many people as they could, in 1968 it was unheard of, by 2017 it has happened on numerous occasions. I love the way he describes when the book was based - In 1968 the entire population of the World crammed together would occu ...more
Oct 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Found it interesting; a unique style of writing. I've read different ways; the normal way from front to end, then also by sticking to the sub-headings; context, the happening world, tracking with closeups, etc. Either way, it made for excellent reading. ...more
Maggie K
A lot of folks love this book, and I really tried to like it, and maybe I just wasn't in the right mood, but these characters, and the way they treated women, was just too annoying to me. I gave up. ...more
Kate Sherrod
Mar 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Simultaneously reading like a deadly earnest Illuminatus! Trilogy scrubbed of all the conspiracy nuttiness*, a fictionalized parable of Toffler's classic Future Shock, a finger-wagging sermon about the evils of overpopulation, and a whacked-out Jeff Noon media scramble, Stand on Zanzibar is one of the coolest bits of New Wave science fiction a reader could pick up.

A lot of people who pick up a John Brunner novel -- or indeed any older science fiction novel -- in the 21st century get hung up on e
David Agranoff
John Brunner was a leading voice of the 60's new wave of Science Fiction. I have wondered why other authors of the new wave like Leguin, Ellison and of course Philip K Dick are better remembered or respected. Ellison, it was his insane personality and with Dick, it was the films made after his death. John Brunner like PKD has a career that balances corny pulp novels in Brunner cases he did man books about space slavers and laser guns. For every one of those Brunner had as many works of pure geni ...more
Dec 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Where to start when talking about Stand on Zanzibar? Maybe the meaning of the title:
"And to close on, the Dept of Small Consolations Some troubledome just figured out that if you allow for every codder and shiggy and appleofmyeye a space one foot by two you could stand us all on the six hundred forty square mile surface on the island of Zanzibar ToDAY third MAY twenty-TEN come aGAIN!"
By the end of the book, several months later, poor Zanzibar can no longer hold all of humanity and some of ou
J.M. Hushour
Jan 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a wacky, dense, and incredible world-building behemoth that is still relevant as shit today.
Don't be put off by its bulk: it is way more rewarding and scary than any stupid Game of Thrones monstrosity.
Part of its charm is the difficult thing about reviewing it: its complexity. And it isn't some dumb "Dahlgren"-esque nonsensical charm, it's more about its highly experimental style. There are multitudes of characters, some of which are prominent, others are just fleeting which is only a li
May 13, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: b-c, hardcover
A difficult to read. Difficult to rate. It's a masterpiece.

Many others have summarized it brilliantly. I wouldn't even try.

However, it is an outstanding and unique work from a guy who, until then (1967) primarily published - as did PKD - in Ace Double paperbacks.

It's a book about everything, and written in a very unusual and clever fashion with simultaneous overlapping segments: Context. The happening world. Tracking with closeups. Continuity.

The bulk of the "actual novel" is in the "continuity"
Danielle Tremblay
Nov 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science-fiction
Like most of the science fiction-books that deal with the near future, John Brunner's "Stand on Zanzibar" takes place on an overcrowded dystopic Earth.
The title of the book comes from the fact that by the time of World War I you could stand the whole of the human race on the 147-square-mile Isle of Wight. In the year 2010, when this book takes place, you would need a larger island, like the 640-square-mile Zanzibar.

In this future world the government tries to stop the overcrowding by eugenic leg
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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 Ro ...more

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