Top positive review
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Stand on Zanzibar - totally worth the effort.
on 16 October 2002
This has to be one of the all time classics of the sci-fi genre, and has certainly earned its place in the Masterworks collection, though it is perhaps not as well known as other classics like The War of The Worlds or The Chrysalids. There is a reason for this of course, Stand On Zanzibar is not an 'easy' book. It's very easy to read the first few pages and give up - in fact, this is what I did the first time my father recommended it to me. All the same, I now consider it to be high up in my top ten books of all time.
The thing that deters one is that Brunner's style here is like no other you have ever encounted, although one can trace its influence to modern science-fiction works like Otherland. Brunner is painting for us the picture of an entire society - a complete and vibrant vision of the future, and to do so he weaves together the complex threads of individual unconnected lives; the messages sent out by the media; greater world plot; and insightful comments on how people are effected by living in such a society given through the guise of Chad C. Mulligan - an eminent and enigmatic socioligist in the book.
Like many visions of the future created decades ago one can find fault with predictions that have not happened, and easily declaire that this will not be the way of the world in 2010; however, the truth is, some of those predictions are surprisingly accurate, and even if the situation has not gone as far yet as Brunner predicted, one can see evidence of it heading that way. His discussion of the pressures imposed on man by over-population, and the progress, or lack thereof, in the developing world is interesting, and his comments on the effect of our genetics on social prejudice must be relivant today.
Besides being exceedingly clever and insightful, however, this is above all a good read! With believable and colourful characters as well as a wonderful dry sense of humour, you cannot help but become gripped by this book, and once you have become accustomed to the style you will wonder why you ever found it difficult in the first place.
I thoroughly recommend this book.