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4.2 out of 5 stars37
4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 29 June 2014
I first read this novel some 40 years ago and was struck by both its literary style and the way the author focussed on what were then embryonic environmental and political concerns. As the years went by, his analysis has -alas - proved to be all too accurate on all fronts. If one has any concerns about where GM agriculture might be leading us, read this book. If anything, I am much more worried about the future of mankind and the planet on rereading the novel than I was when first I purchased it.
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on 26 April 2009
I've known of this book for years and have been meaning to read it for as long. And I really wanted to rave about it. It's a classic, after all, so it ought to be good. Well, it is and it isn't. I have no doubt that when it was first published, back in 1968, it would have seemed impressive. This book has big ambitions, and that's always to be lauded. It would have fallen into the `experimental' bracket in its day, and it's mainly for this reason that it suffers now. Although the scope of the book is admirable, and some of Brunner's broad visions of the present day are fairly close to the mark, there's some downright awful predicted slang in here and the experimentation with the novel's structure feels contrived, laboured, and pointless much of the time. A sizeable portion of the 600+ pages read more like a sociopolitical discussion than a novel. Not much happens here and to be honest I found some sizeable chunks rather tedious. Perhaps I was expecting too much, having waited so long to read this book. Maybe I wanted something else, having assumed, for no good reason, during those years of expectation, that this was a different kind of work. Whatever the reason I was left feeling flat by this book, but that might be more my fault than John Brunner's.
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on 19 May 2000
Big with lots of big ideas. It manages to strike an excellent balance between the darkness and light of humanity. That is: the light is there but in the end... Some may find the dated details off-putting but if you try it's really rewarding.
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on 20 July 2014
Amazingly prophetic novel in its predictions of technology, but its complex style needs concentration to remain interested. I gave up part way through but may pick it up again at sometime just to see what else was predicted.
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on 15 May 2016
Brunner's book blurred barriers and borders within the genre many, many years ago. It is a great read, even today! Essential for all sci-fi/fantasy fans.
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on 5 November 2015
Great, cheap copy, but maybe just a bit too much of the old musty book smell... honestly though, thx! Oh, and it's a great read, too
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on 22 January 2014
This book has dated considerably since its release in late 60s/early 70s. However, much of the sociopolitical commentary is spot on.
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on 19 February 2006
Stand on Zanzibar is a must-read for anyone who considers themselves knowledgeable and interested in published science fiction. Over 650 pages, John Brunner has created a masterpiece which through its unique style delivers a quite dangerous and relevant message. I am proud that I have read this and I am proud it sits on my bookshelf.
What makes the book so different is its meandering between a straight, plot-driven novel and snippets of ‘articles’ of either news events or a sociologist’s book on contemporary society. We have big, corporate-driven advertising; snippets of random crimes being planned and committed; and even a few glossaries describing this future dystopia. What this means is that whilst it can be quite confusing sometimes (especially the whole chapters of random paragraphs of random people’s conversations) I felt slightly more interested in these non-novel parts than the actual story. This is certainly true of the first half which is more about setting the scene leaving the second half to deal with a more dynamic and exciting plot.
There are also quite large political undertones running throughout the book. Brunner is thoroughly anti-war and anti-colonialism but presents this in such a humourous and subtle way that it never becomes preachy or manipulative. Certainly he has an affliction for Africa as there are so many references to it but he never overflows into full-blown “I-am-sorry-for-what-my-country-did-in-the-past-and-what-we-did-to-you-and-your-country” mode. It was a measured and rewarding way of putting across his point.
Much has been made of his future predictions. I don’t think that this matters at all as it’s a story not some Club of Rome doomsday book. He does get things like the overpopulation of the developed world massively wrong but I think if people were to read this in 100 years it would be more life-like yet still readable. I did however enjoy the super-computer Shalmaneser owned by a mega-corporation that is so powerful it can run an entire country. Again Brunner might be off in his predictions but it was 1969 after all.
The book features quite a few minor characters but they feel fully fleshed out and distinctive because Brunner makes them so interesting. It could get quite tricky sometimes though, when you return to one of these people after 300 pages and by the time you’ve realized who they are their chapter is over (the book does have very short chapters). It is quite tough sometimes to read but if you get through it and understand it you realise that this is a gem of a book that deserves much more recognition.
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on 28 December 2009
What more can one say about this novel? Science Fiction at it's finest and not to be missed.
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on 20 April 2000
John Brunner's speculation matches our world today in some surprising ways, and is quaintly dissimilar in others. The stylistic approach is challenging and extraordinary - something of an achievement for both the author and those who read it.
The story and characters are interesting but by themselves occupy only a fraction of the attention as the setting and the undercurrents of philosophy and ethical inquiry are every bit as fascinating.
Stand is a big book, with big ideas and great relevancy.
If you have no stomach for thinking about race, age, education, power, economics, conflict, justice and responsibility then avoid Stand - they're all here, viscerally and in the abstract.
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