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Stand on Zanzibar

Stand on Zanzibar - John Brunner My first John Brunner novel and, coming with many glowing reviews and being in the SF Masterworks series, I had high expectations. I really wanted to like this book but I have to say after completing it that I struggle to see what people see in it.

It didn't bode well from the outset when the narrative began with deeply fragmented chunks of info dumping, character introduction and scene setting. At the beginning, with no story to give these information fragments context, I could not get a handle on any of it. Only after I was about one hundred pages in did a coherent story line begin to emerge and give me a framework to put these narrative fragments into context. Even then, they served mainly to break the flow of the story as they persisted to interrupt the plot through to the end of the book.

The story itself was quite interesting and just engaging enough to keep me reading to the end of the book (I was tempted to give up a few times) and avoid a one star rating. The chacaters were okay, not particular interesting and the ubiquitous Chad Mulligan, who seemed to be a thinly veiled mouthpiece for the author's didactic views, came across as smug and irritating.

Funnily enough, the story of the book was set in 2010, and it's interesting to compare Brunner's "prediction" of how things might turn out on Earth with how they actually did. One might say that Brunner did, to some degree, foresee the rising cost of food and raw materials resulting from a rising population but overall it has to be said that his view was far too pessimistic, at least in the time frame of the story. Perhaps the stringent eugenic population controls and massive shortages of resources described in this book may yet come to pass but we haven't got there yet.

I shall give Brunner another try (since I already have another of his novels on my shelf) but I hope for something far more engaging next time.