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SF Masterwork of the Week: Stand on Zanzibar

I’ve written before about the wonderful authors I’ve been introduced to thanks to their appearances on panels at conventions, and the terrific books I’ve discovered the same way. One such book is our current SF Masterwork of the Week. I don’t remember the convention, to be honest – it was probably Conspiracy in 1987 – I just recall candidates for the title of Best SF Book Ever Written being discussed and, among the (to me at the time) usual candidates – the Dunes, the Left Hands of Darkness, the Forever Wars – was an unfamiliar (to me at the time) interloper. What was this Stand on Zanzibar of which they spoke?

Well, it was this . . .


There are seven billion-plus humans crowding the surface of 21st-century Earth. It is an age of intelligent computers, mass-market psychedelic drugs, politics conducted by assassination, scientists who burn incense to appease volcanoes . . . all the hysteria of a dangerously overcrowded world, portrayed in a dazzlingly inventive style.

Moving, sensory, impressionistic, as jagged as the times it portrays, this book is a real mind stretcher – and yet beautifully orchestrated to give a vivid picture of the whole.

Employing an audacious range of literary techniques, John Brunner has created a future world as real as this morning’s newspaper . . .

Stand on Zanzibar is available in a new SF Masterworks paperback edition, with a wonderfully insightful introduction by Ken MacLeod, and the SF Gateway eBook has been updated to include the new cover and introduction. You can find more of John Brunner’s work via his Author page on the SF Gateway website, and read about him in his entry in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.