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(Zarathustra Refugee Planets #2)

3.57  ·  Rating details ·  305 ratings  ·  30 reviews
Polymath is a science fiction novel by John Brunner, first published in 1974 by DAW Books, an expansion of Castaways' World (Ace 1963).
A spacecraft filled with refugees from a cosmic catastrophe crash-lands on an unmapped planet. There the survivors must face the reality of their precarious situation; the ship was lost and little had been salvaged from it. Everything come
Paperback, 156 pages
Published 1974 by Daw Books (NY) (first published 1963)
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Jun 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: daw_own
DAW Collectors #85

Cover Artist: Vincent DiFate.

Name: Brunner, John Kilian Houston, Birthplace: Preston Crowmarsh, Oxfordshire, England, UK, ( 24 September 1934-25 August 1995)

Alternate Names: , Gill Hunt, John Loxmith, Ellis Quick, Keith Woodcott.

Without warning, the sun of the planet Zarathustra goes nova. There is no time to evacuate, but a few spaceships on the night side of the planet are able to lift off and--by driving at maximum speed--outrun the shock wave of the explosion. Driven far b
Nov 17, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pretty decent colonists crash land on the wrong planet story. Nice work. A little dated but a good read.
Charles Harrison
Oct 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Once again I am suckered in to another rebuilding civilisation novel. My main criticism is I wanted it to be twice as long! An interesting take on what is important when undertaking such a project in that the social aspect is primarily focussed on rather than the physical. Remarkably upbeat for a Brunner and worth picking up.
Jul 17, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: klassiker, scifi
Science Fiction, first published 1974

Nette klassische Science-Fiction-Abenteuer-Geschichte, very retro. Die ursprüngliche (kürzere) Fassung ist genauso alt wie ich.

John Brunner bemüht sich offensichtlich, eine "aufregend andere" Zukunft mit professionell ausgebildeten, gleichberechtigten Frauen und vergleichsweise viel sexueller Freizügigkeit darzustellen... aber er ist nun mal ein Kind seiner Zeit, und daher scheitert er an der Emanzipation ungefähr so kläglich wie ein Shirley-Temple-Film beim
Artur Coelho
Os habitantes de uma colónia distante são obrigados a fugir quando a estrela do seu sistema solar se transforma em supernova. Os sobreviventes fogem em todas as direcções, e alguns dão por si no espaço profundo, longe de possibilidades de resgate por parte de outras colónias. Com as naves danificadas e as provisões a esgotarem-se, aterram no primeiro planeta que lhes permite sobreviver. As naves ficam danificadas para além de qualquer reparação na aterragem, e as condições de vida planetária não ...more
Aug 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book in a thrift shop recently and the title intrigued me. While not exactly what I was expecting, it was an enjoyable read. I found myself wishing it had had a better, less abrupt, ending. It's about a group of people who have found themselves stranded on a planet and have to survive with the knowledge that help is likely not coming. ...more
Brent Winslow
Apr 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book started pretty fast and I wondered if there would be any story interesting enough to continue reading. That changed very quickly. Polymath describes the fate of two groups of people who have crash landed on an inhospitable planet - one focused on repairing and irreparable spacecraft, and the other focused on survival and planning for future generations. The first group devolves rapidly into totalitarianism, while the second group, led by a polymath (similar to Herbert's mentats) are ab ...more
Apr 17, 2018 rated it liked it
This book actually takes place long before "Avengers of Carrig" and "Repairmen of Cyclops", even though it's the second in the series. I read it last, so it's like a prequel of sorts. It is its own story, but gives the background of the first settlements of the Zarathustra nova survivors.
Overall it is a good story, with a small population figuring out how to survive on a new planet with not much hope for rescue or escape. They have to survive the elements, the wildlife, and biggest off all, the
João Gil
I think it was an average book, regarding the science fiction theme. It was an original idea, but I think it failed to capture the essence and excitement. Some dialogues were confusing. Some characters were badly introduced (kinda dropped out of nowhere) and many details of objects and props were not explained properly.
However, there is always something happening and the story advances well, there are no unecessary fillers. Good for overall entertainment, but if you skip this book, you won't mis
Kevin Jonker
Discovered this book in jr. high. Mostly holds up--Gilligan's Island in space, without the comedy...shipwrecked refugees on a planet that has life, but nothing for which the refugees are prepared. They're going to have to figure it out fast, navigating the immediate necessities of survival while also trying to develop a society that will survive and adapt. A fast-paced, imaginative piece of work. ...more
Kevin Valliant
Really the start of the Zarathustra refugees story, following two groups who crash land on an alien world. The primary question is do you focus on trying to escape planet or do you settle in and make the best of it? Interesting show of group dynamics which slips into super-man saves all Sci Fi trope.
Robert Swanson
I guess SciFi needed books like this at the beginning. I would judge this to be YA perhaps now.
Too predictable, too hero-worship (the Polymath solves the day).
C. Steinmann
Jan 19, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Liked it. Definitely not Brunner's worst... Still got the feeling, that even if he's taking everything into consideration, there's stell some dimension missing...But hey, it was written in '74... ...more
Tentatively, Convenience
Jul 12, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: sf
review of
John Brunner's Polymath
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - July 12, 2014

John Brunner's Polymath reminds me of J. G. Ballard's short story collections: Vermilion Sands, Chronopolis, The Best Short Stories of J. G. Ballard, & most likely others that I don't have in my personal library.

Why? Is it b/c they're both British SF writers w/ radical leanings? No, among other things, their radicality is quite different. It's b/c of the way the publishers reuse older material to sell newer bks. In
James Dyar
Mar 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
came across this as part of a mass purchase a few years back finally got around to reading it. I found the concept of world building far more interesting than I thought I would. great book overall
John Brunner of course had some big successes as a SciFi writer, but this one reads as a pretty standard pulp fiction yarn, with a couple of interesting twists. This one fits into the general category of disaster survival/post-apocalyptic/castaway SF, with some interesting creatures on a new plant. It's a moderately entertaining read, but it feels targeted at 12 year old boys. WARNING: VIRTUALLY NO CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT. Really, even the protagonist is fairly wooden, with no feel for who he is o ...more
Julie  Capell
After their sun goes nova, two groups of survivors find themselves marooned on a faraway planet. Cut off even from each other, the two groups follow two distinct paths: one attempts to organize itself around more or less democratic structures and the other descends into "Lord of the Flies" savagery. The majority of the action in the first part of the novel revolves around showing how difficult it is to maintain a civilized social order in the face of extreme deprivation and hardship. Each of sev ...more
Dec 05, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Polymath é a minha primeira obra de Brunner.
Nota-se neste livro claramente uma transição entre "hard-science" para "soft-science".
A obra fala-nos duas tripulações refugiadas que são obrigadas a aterram de emergência num planeta inóspito. A sobrevivência deste grupo encontra-se nas mãos dum Polymath, um ser humano geneticamente modificado, com aptidões físicas e mentais aumentadas e treinado para liderar colónias.
Foi um livro difícil de interiorizar, em parte por culpa da tradução, tornando a lei
Jul 20, 2012 rated it liked it
I've been reading old SF lately, and this was another from the early 70's. This was pretty good and is in the set of books where the scientist is an actual hero, rather than a nerdy resource to assist the hero. In this case, the scientist is a superhero, of sorts, who will eventually manage the terraforming of a new planet and its initial colonization.

Except... He had to escape his home planet when its sun suddenly went nova. His ship, with 800 other refugees, crashes on this previously unknown
This novel is from the days of very thin paperbacks and very small print but this is no way reflects on the solid writing in this story. I have read a few John Brunner novels and they have all been interesting and thought provoking.

At its core Polymath is a novel of survival, tribal politics and human nature when forced into extreme situations. For a story that is, in its original form over 50 years old (the original story was shorter and published in 1963), it deals with issues that are very m
Anne Pinckard
The residents of a well-populated planet must flee when their sun undergoes supernova. Two of the escape ships crash on a distant planet, and each group adapt different strategies in order to survive.

Much like Lord of the Flies, this book explores what happens when humans are faced with survival conditions. Will they give in to their primitive urges? What sort of social structure will they form and what might that have to say about humanity's innate tendencies?

I enjoyed this book. While nothing
Aug 29, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 13, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
Two spaceships from a doomed planet crash land on a challenging new world. The central figure of the book is Lex, an only partially trained "Polymath," a type of enhanced human designed to help terraform new worlds. The problem is that Lex is young and far from ready. He wasn't being trained for this type of planet, and the survivors are lacking in many necessary kinds of equipment. The book explores which path humanity will take under these conditions, collectivism or barbarism. An enjoyable re ...more
Dave Lefevre
Mar 10, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic-sf
I like John Brunner, but like a lot of the 50s era books by authors that would later become great in the 60s and 70s, it suffers from some characterizations of women that today are laughable or embarrassing. Beyond that this is cool Ace-novel-era novel with some interesting ideas. What would you do if you were stranded on a strange planet with no reasonable hope of rescue? Would you cling to unreasonable hopes or would you embrace the situation and build a world?
Kevin Findley
I almost gave up after the first two chapters, but I'm glad I didn't. The story was quite good and I enjoyed how Brunner developed his characters. The ending was rather abrupt, but I think it will grow on me as I look back at it over time. ...more
May 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: brits
Great ideas, as in many masterpieces of science-fiction. I believe that many great writers have found refuge in this genre and produced equally great masterpieces as the classical writers. In the end is still fiction, maybe a little bit harder to believe.
My copy of this book is in Romanian.
Jan 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Grade A. Book Z1.

original title Castaways World
Erik Graff
Oct 18, 2010 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Brunner fans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: sf
This is a substantial rewriting and expansion of Brunner's Castaway World (1963). Rather conventional, it is not to the standard of Stand on Zanzibar or The Sheep Look Up. ...more
Fred D
Mar 31, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
I don't remember much about this book, only that I really liked it. Once I find out more about it, I'll write a real review. ...more
Ricardo Sanchez
rated it liked it
Aug 01, 2014
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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

Other books in the series

Zarathustra Refugee Planets (3 books)
  • The Avengers of Carrig (Zarathustra Refugee Planets, #1)
  • The Repairmen of Cyclops (Zarathustra Refugee Planets, #3)

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