Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Sheep Look Up” as Want to Read:
The Sheep Look Up
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Sheep Look Up

by
3.97  ·  Rating details ·  3,736 Ratings  ·  322 Reviews
An enduring classic, this book offers a dramatic and prophetic look at the potential consequences of the escalating destruction of Earth. In this nightmare society, air pollution is so bad that gas masks are commonplace. Infant mortality is up, and everyone seems to suffer from some form of ailment.
Paperback, 388 pages
Published May 11th 2003 by BenBella Books (first published August 1st 1972)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Sheep Look Up, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Sheep Look Up

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
|
Filter
Carol.
Dec 23, 2014 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: people who disbelieve the need for the EPA
I think I might DNF this one.

Honestly, I feel like I'm reading the newspaper and the Sierra Club's journal on a particularly bad day. Knowing that this was written forty years ago makes it even worse; you mean we knew these problems were coming and still didn't fix them? We start with gas masks in L.A. (hello, China),
description

pesticide resistant bugs eating modified crops (hello, Monsanto and Round-Up),
description

water unsafe for swimming or drinking (hello, red algae blooms and oil spills)
description

walled enclaves and arm
...more
Adam
Jan 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Human beings alive in 2009. Every one of them.
Stop you’re killing me!
0
X
David ”The Postman” Brin says in the intro that John Brunner scared the crap out of people in the 60’s , well he scares the crap out of me today. The label “Science Fiction” could be safely removed from this book as it is sadly becoming a realistic portrait of our very own moment in history. A primal scream treatment for anyone who survived the dread and anxiety of the Bush years (written 30 years before it occurred) and a dreadful prophecy of the environmental grave we
...more
Susan Budd
Dec 29, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Why are all the dystopian novels I read in my teens coming true? I have to keep reminding myself that this is science fiction from the 70s, not real life here and now.

• “Don’t Drink” notices warn people when the tap water isn’t safe to drink.
• The less fortunate are given synthetic food to eat, while the well-to-do pay top-dollar at an organic food supermarket.
• The President’s dictum regarding the press is: “If the papers know what’s good for them they’ll print what’s good for America” (192
...more
Robert
Oct 25, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anybody
The Sheep Look Up is a prime example of Science Fiction at its scariestly prescient (like that word, "scariestly"?:-). John Brunner portrays a world where the United States is run by a president who is eerily reminscent of George W. Bush -- a complete idiot, a figurehead run by his cabinet and given to fighting many small wars. The world is in the middle of an ecodisaster brought about by inexorable population pressure and the systematic abuse of chemicals. Antibiotic resistant diseases are in f ...more
Melki
Sep 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
If you visit American city,
You will find it very pretty.
Just two things of which you must beware:
Don't drink the water and don't breathe the air!
*

"How often do I have to tell you? You never go outside without your mask!"

Brunner's book, published in the early seventies, has to be one of the earlier ecopocalypse novels. His descriptions are stunningly prescient. Take a look at his portrait of the Pacific Ocean:

The water looked more like oil. It was dark gray and barely moved to the breeze. Along t
...more
Dave Lefevre
Jan 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic-sf
This has to be one of the most frightening books I have ever read. My favorite science fiction author is Phillip K. Dick, whose sense of extrapolation was amazing. However the extrapolations that Brunner has made in this book leaves most PKD novels in the dust, and that's one of the reasons this books is so unsettling.

While I was reading I couldn't resist to urge to write down some of the speculations that Brunner made in this novel that are uncomfortably like the world we see right now. Here is
...more
Penny
I can't say I enjoyed the majority of this book. The style is very broken, telling many stories at once with very little indication of how they're related.

It's a bleak world where the climate is broken and polluted, the government is controlling and full of platitudes and outright lies, food and water is scarce, you need filtered masks to breath outside in the cities, and poverty is rampant. The story follows the lives of a number of people and how they survive in the world as it now stands.

It
...more
Mary
Jul 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The title of the novel is a quotation from the poem Lycidas by Paradise Lost author John Milton:

The hungry sheep look up, and are not fed,
But swollen with wind and the rank mist they draw,
Rot inwardly, and foul contagion spread ...

This is an important book, with a capital “I”. It is a shame everyone doesn’t read it, and even more of a shame that many who would read it would dismiss it as silly liberal propaganda as they have dismissed all discussions on climate change. Because it was written in
...more
Paul Bryant
Jan 27, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: sf-novels-aaargh
See the halibut and the sturgeons
Being wiped out by detergents
Fish gotta swim and birds gotta fly
But they don’t last long if they try
Pollution, pollution, wear a gas mask and a veil
Then you can breath as long as you don’t inhale

Sang Tom Lehrer, and seven years later John Brunner wrote the book of the song. I love that rhyme – sturgeons/detergents – and I have to admit it’s way more fun to listen to two minutes of Tom than it is to plough through this jeremiad of a novel from 1972. It’s like one
...more
Stephen
4.5 stars. A brilliant novel. Not as good as Stands on Zanzibar, but that is not much of a criticism given that Zanzibar is one of the best novels ever written IMHO. This is a novel that explores the effect of unchecked out of control pollution and environmental collapse. Recommended.

Nominee: Nebula Award Best Novel
Nominee:(6th place) Locus Award Best Science Fiction Novel
Gabrielle
“I am as guilty as you, and you are as guilty as me. We can repent together, or we can die together; it must be our joint decision.”

Urg. I need a new Goodreads shelf that I will call “Please, please, please make this fiction again”. “The Sheep Look Up” will go on it, next to “The Handmaid’s Tale”, “Brave New World” and “It Can’t Happen Here”.

This book is set in a world where careless and entitled human attitudes have destroyed the environment to the point where you need to wear a gas mask when y
...more
aPriL does feral sometimes
Remarkable times call for remarkable action. America responds with it’s usual can-do character!

The air is no longer quite breathable. The water is poisoned with chemicals from farming, food product additives, pharmaceuticals, plastics, sewage and defoliants. The oceans are dead. No one can remember when they last saw a bird. Even flies are rare. When sunlight breaks through the dust-laden air, it is announced on the television by an affable announcer. Food yields are dropping despite everything
...more
Amber
Jul 01, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Yes
This novel is scary.
Rarely has a novel actually made me concerned about what is happening in our society.

In the book, the world is basically going to shit, people cannot breathe the air, basic infections are rampant, old pollutions are killing people but the government/corporations are covering it up. The only people who can live healthily are the rich.

The story has is ominously correct on topics such as organic farmer, vegetables making individuals sick, corporations profiting from healthy alt
...more
William
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, and then "something happened" and he wrote these two masterpieces. Truly Awesome books!
Cassienerdgirl
Jun 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
It took me a long time to get through this book. I had to put it down to read other, lighter books along the way. Because this book is depressing, far too close to the truth.

The Sheep Look Up was published as sci-fi in 1972, and it essentially forecasts the environmental downfall of the world, specifically the US. Everyone is sick. Everything is poisoned. You can't swim anywhere, see blue skies or breath without filter-masks in cities. Children are deformed or developmentally disabled. Corporati
...more
YouKneeK
May 19, 2016 rated it liked it
This book may be the bleakest, darkest, and most depressing dystopian novel I’ve ever read. It’s the kind of book that motivated me to read out on my deck whenever I could, so I could be surrounded with fresh air, sunshine, singing birds, and healthy, green, growing things. The book seemed twice as bleak whenever I read it at night before going to sleep. It held my interest and I was never tempted to give up on it, but I’m really glad to be done with it.

The book was written in 1972 and it seeme
...more
Natasha Hurley-Walker
Mar 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
By turns insightful and terrifying, this book was impossible to put down. Every time I (quite literally) came up for air, I looked at the world around me and thought, "At least it's not that bad here... yet." Combining real and fictional newspaper articles, ancient hymns and poems, and a series of interlocking character narratives not unlike Infinite Jest (minus the hyperbolic prose and enjoyable tangents), 'Sheep' mourns the the selfishness of mankind and the insufferable greed that drives us, ...more
LindaJ^
This book was written in 1972 and it remains relevant, especially given the current situation with respect to worldwide environmental accords. Yes there are too many of us and we have abused our planet. There are quite a few characters in the book who collectively tell the story. Not many of them are still alive at the end, taken out by the "Syndicate", the FBI, or various groups of terrorists - some in favor of the environment, some right wing, some just plain scared.
Kim
This book was very hard to get in to at first. It's written in a very disjointed style that takes some working to get through. But it is worth it. The things in this book never occurred but the scary thing is it can still happen. All the chemicals in this book are real. Their effects on humans are real. They way that governments and corporations look after their own to the expense of others is real. Hopefully this world doesn't go the same way but it's up to us to make sure it doesn't.
Kate Sherrod
May 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
What a weird combination of eerie prescience and slapstick satire this is, for all that I'm pretty sure it was just supposed to be the latter.

The Sheep Look Up is very much a product of its time, when the Vietnam War was still raging and Rachel Carson's Silent Spring was still relatively new and shocking. As such, its view of the rest of the twentieth century -- the author's imagined future, our immediate past -- should come across as dated. There are no cell phones, no internet; computers are s
...more
Derek
May 18, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf
I know I've read this before, but didn't remember a thing. It's a little slow to begin, it jumps about confusingly, and it definitely seems a little dated (not as much as you might think for a book published in 1972, though). I could live without the lectures on the dangers of specific toxins like lead and PCBs. I'm pretty sure I knew all that stuff when I would have first read it. 

I think this is supposed to be set in the 1980s - though I can't find why I thought that - which is about the
...more
Nancy Oakes
Apr 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi-fantasy
"We're divorced from reality, in the same way as the Romans went on thinking of themselves as invulnerable and unchallengeable long after it ceased to be true. The most awful warnings are staring us in the face..." (207)

As usual, you can stick with the condensed version or click here for the longer one.

Personally, I don't think there's anything wrong with a work of didactic fiction if it's done well and has other things going for it. In that sense, The Sheep Look Up is one of the best works o
...more
Papaphilly
This is an excellent read, but very tough to work through. John Brunner has written a masterpiece and it looks at what could have happened if the world did not turn back in the late 1960's and start to take care of the environment. Everything is poisoned, everyone is sick, and everything is broken.

Written in a disjointed style, The Sheep Look Up is a series of vignettes of a world in decline and no idea what to do about fixing itself. This book will leave you depressed and forlorn. It is a caut
...more
Phrynne
Feb 01, 2015 rated it did not like it
A very rare thing for me - a DNF . I made it half way and decided I was wasting a part of my life. Maybe when it was written this was a foreseeable future and I could have continued reading if that was the only issue. But it just kept on and on. I kept saying okay you made your point, move on. But it didn't. I have read that it does improve towards the end of the book. I just couldn't wait that long. Never mind. I know a lot of people did enjoy this book and I am glad. It just wasn't for me:(
Monica
Near future sci fi novel hits pretty close to real life. A portrait of extremes, the consequences of disregarding the environment and the industries that pollute, agricultural catastrophes associated with pesticides, issues associated with the disposal of toxic waste, diseases adapting to antibiotics and the consequences of inept government oversight. Brunner foresaw all of it. Only a couple of nonexistent technologies: tanks that shoot lasers to quell the crowd and a microwave oven that leaked ...more
Bob Schnell
Written in 1972, "The Sheep Look Up" is John Brunner's vision of environmental calamity in the near future. That the near future in the book takes place in the 1970's is a bit of a distraction from the anti-pollution message. Many of the details of daily life described are very outdated, sometimes to the point of unintentional humor. Many new readers may not be able to get beyond that especially since some of the fears expressed have been replaced with newer, deadlier ones.

However, the author is
...more
Eric
Jan 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Eric by: The Bearded Triffid
Thus far, a brilliant, harrowing read. Brunner's 1972 novel portrays a dystopia in which pollution is almost certainly pitching an oblivious humanity towards extinction. Filter masks are ubiquitous for those who brave the outdoors. "Do Not Drink Days" discourage the use of tapwater. Crop shortages caused by pesticide-immune pests threaten global famine. Superbugs tear through the population, resistant to every antibiotic thrown at them.

For every single "prediction" Brunner gets wrong, there's so
...more
Ajeje Brazov
Il gregge alza la testa, è stata una lettura davvero interessante e piena di spunti riflessivi: su chi siamo, che cosa facciamo, perchè, credendo di essere gli esseri viventi più "importanti" sulla Terra, pensiamo di poter fare ciò che ci pare dell'ambiente circostante. Quindi mi sento di consigliarlo a tutti, prima di tutto perchè non si tratta di fantascienza vera e propria, anzi direi che letto 40 anni dopo la stesura mi sembra più un resoconto della società di inizio 21° secolo, quasi tutto ...more
Gil
Feb 25, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Brunner's bleak look at a future that never happened is a curio. Set in America but obviously written by a Brit, its quaint attempts at tough American talk are completely undercut by the writer's native tongue. So many things are wrong with this book, so much is dated (and was the day it was published in 1972) that sometimes it's hard to see what's right about it. The results of indifferent pollution are well done, but basically this is just a setup for his lectures on what we've done to the pla ...more
Kris
Feb 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
After immersing myself in the world of The Sheep Look Up I look out the window and the sun shines strongly in a blue sky, the world is green and teeming with life, the rain is pure, our homes and bodies are clean, and we have an abundance of food. It all seems like magic.

This is a book that takes a little while to get into but once you do you won't put it down. There are a lot of characters to keep up with - fair warning - doesn't hurt to keep a sheet of paper for notes. If this book doesn't in
...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • The Genocides
  • Drowning Towers
  • The World Inside
  • The Wild Shore (Three Californias Triptych, #1)
  • Greybeard
  • The Iron Dream
  • Level 7
  • The Death of Grass
  • A Gift Upon the Shore
  • Some Will Not Die
  • Mockingbird
  • Juniper Time
  • Emergence
  • And Chaos Died
  • Norstrilia
  • This Is the Way the World Ends
  • Past Master
  • Beyond Armageddon: Twenty-One Sermons to the Dead
229 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 Ro ...more
More about John Brunner

Fantasy & Science Fiction Deals

  • Off to Be the Wizard (Magic 2.0, #1)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Beneath the Shine
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Stepford Wives
    $9.74 $1.99
  • Time's Divide (The Chronos Files, #3)
    $5.49 $1.99
  • The Long Earth (The Long Earth, #1)
    $5.49 $1.99
  • Gilded (Gilded, #1)
    $3.99 $0.99
  • Infinity Lost (The Infinity Trilogy #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Man of Legends
    $4.99 $1.99
  • All the Breaking Waves
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Fellside
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Timebound (The Chronos Files, #1)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Banished of Muirwood (Covenant of Muirwood, #1)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Muirwood: The Lost Abbey: The Graphic Novel
    $7.99 $0.99
  • 2061: Odyssey Three (Space Odyssey, #3)
    $8.99 $1.99
  • Alas, Babylon
    $9.74 $1.99
  • 3001: The Final Odyssey (Space Odyssey, #4)
    $8.99 $1.99
  • Fractured (Guards of the Shadowlands, #2)
    $4.99 $0.99
  • The Queen's Poisoner (Kingfountain, #1)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Zeroes
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Dreams and Shadows (Dreams & Shadows, #1)
    $9.49 $1.99
  • Touch of Eternity (The Curse #1)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Touch
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Dragon Rider
    $5.99 $1.99
  • An Unwelcome Quest
    $4.99 $1.99
  • EARTHCORE
    $4.99 $1.49
  • Luna: New Moon
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Traitor's Kiss (The Traitor's Circle, #1)
    $7.80 $2.99
  • The Void of Muirwood (Covenant of Muirwood, #3)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Dreadnought (Nemesis, #1)
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Dirty Magic (Prospero's War, #1)
    $8.99 $1.99
  • A Plague of Giants (Seven Kennings, #1)
    $8.99 $1.99
  • The Fire Queen (The Hundredth Queen, #2)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastard, #1)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Red Knight Falling (Harmony Black, #2)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Star Wars: Thrawn
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Zoo City
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Wishing Spell (The Land of Stories, #1)
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Sanctum (Guards of the Shadowlands, #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Unmasked (The Vampire Diaries: The Salvation, #3)
    $3.49 $0.99
  • Afterlife
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Unseen (The Vampire Diaries: The Salvation #1)
    $3.49 $0.99
  • The Dwarves (The Dwarves, #1)
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Dryad-Born (Whispers from Mirrowen, #2)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Unbroken Line of the Moon (Sagan om Valhalla #4; Valhalla #1)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Blackfish City
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Supernatural: Bobby Singer's Guide to Hunting
    $8.49 $1.99
  • Silvern (Gilded #2)
    $3.99 $0.99
  • Some Fine Day
    $3.99 $0.99
  • Random Acts of Senseless Violence
    $15.99 $1.99
  • Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (Wicked Years, #1)
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Mystic (Mystic, #1)
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Almost Girl (The Riven Chronicles, #1)
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Spell or High Water (Magic 2.0, #2)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Uprooted
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Wormhole (The Rho Agenda, #3)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Dragons of Nova (Loom Saga, #2)
    $6.99 $1.99
  • The Ciphers of Muirwood (Covenant of Muirwood, #2)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Amid Stars and Darkness (The Xenith Trilogy #1)
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Otherkin
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Last Adventure of Constance Verity
    $7.99 $1.99
  • The Traveler (Fourth Realm, #1)
    $7.99 $1.99
“We are told that "the meek shall inherit the earth." It follows that the meek are chosen of God. I shall try to be meek, not because I want the earth - you can keep it, after the way you've fucked it around it's not worth having - but because I too should like to be chosen of God. QED.

Besides, I like animals better than you bastards.”
12 likes
“She recalled him as a forceful and witty speaker with a ready repartee and a penetrating voice. He had once, for example, put down a spokesman for the pesticide industry with a remark that people still quoted at parties: "And I presume on the eighth day God called you and said, 'I changed my mind about insects!” 9 likes
More quotes…