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Stand on Zanzibar | [John Brunner]

Stand on Zanzibar

Written in a way that echoes John Dos Passos' U.S.A. Trilogy, Stand on Zanzibar is a cross-section of a world overpopulated by the billions and society is squeezed into hive-living madness by god-like mega computers, mass-marketed psychedelic drugs, and mundane uses of genetic engineering. Though written in 1968, it speaks of our present time and is frighteningly prescient and intensely powerful.
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Publisher's Summary

Norman Niblock House is a rising executive at General Technics, one of a few all-powerful corporations. His work is leading General Technics to the forefront of global domination, both in the marketplace and politically - it's about to take over a country in Africa. Donald Hogan is his roommate, a seemingly sheepish bookworm. But Hogan is a spy, and he's about to discover a breakthrough in genetic engineering that will change the world...and kill him.

These two men's lives weave through one of science-fiction's most praised novels. Written in a way that echoes John Dos Passos' U.S.A. Trilogy, Stand on Zanzibar is a cross-section of a world overpopulated by the billions and society is squeezed into hive-living madness by god-like mega computers, mass-marketed psychedelic drugs, and mundane uses of genetic engineering. Though written in 1968, it speaks of our present time and is frighteningly prescient and intensely powerful.

©1968 John Brunner (P)2011 Macmillan Audio

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.7 (36 )
5 star
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3.8 (31 )
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4.2 (31 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Darryl Cedar Rapids, IA, United States 03-24-14
    Darryl Cedar Rapids, IA, United States 03-24-14 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "perfect audio experience"

    this is one of the best novels I've listened to. it is less scifi to me than i would have thought, and not dated and reads more like Pynchon. while it may not be of the poetic density of Moby, this narrator coupled with this material, makes for a superb listen. Great narrator, one of the best. Wonderful slang and word play. This novel is a scattershot type structure, with multiple blasts of images and ideas--more ideas than a dozen current pop novels.

    the story itself involves our near future (written in 1968 it predicts 7 billion people by 2010 and we are near that) and concerns to an extent overpopulation and corporate greed with side stories involving genetic engineering and sterilization and computer intelligence but don't get caught up in arguing whether he got all the "predictions" accurate. He's much more concerned about people existing in such a possible world and what they might go through. Poverty, drug abuse etc.

    it will be helpful to know that it is structured with "rotating" sections, i took this from wiki entry:

    "Continuity" – Most of the linear narrative is contained in these chapters.
    "Tracking with Closeups" – These are similar to Dos Passos's "Camera" sections, and focus closely on ancillary characters before they become part of the main narrative, or simply serve to paint a picture of the state of the world.
    "The Happening World" – These chapters consist of collage-like collections of short, sometimes single-sentence, descriptive passages. The intent is to capture the vibrant, noisy, and often ephemeral situations arising in the novel's world. At least one chapter of the narrative, a party where most of the characters meet and where the plot makes a significant shift in direction, is presented in this way.
    "Context" – These chapters, as the name suggests, provide a setting for the novel. They consist of imaginary headlines, classified ads, and quotations from the works of the character Chad C. Mulligan, a pop sociologist who comments wryly on his surroundings[3] and in one chapter, actual headlines from the 1960s.


    a key line from opening: "A point of view can be a dangerous luxury when substituted for insight and understanding." Marshall McLuhan: The Gutenburg Galaxy

    loved it. going on my list of best novels. hoping for Sheep Look Up and Shockwave Rider now, definitely interested in Brunner more.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Alexandria, VA, United States 08-29-11
    Michael Alexandria, VA, United States 08-29-11 Member Since 2002
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    "Quite good, if dated"

    I read this book about 6 times when I was in high school (1968-1972). The word "multimedia" didn't exist then, of course, and it can't apply to a print book. But this book is as close as a book can come. The way in which the plots are intercut and perspective shifts is truly amazing. But the author's future is now our (recent) past, and the degree to which the author simply extends the social and political realities of 1968 into the future is painfully obvious. The attitude toward women is painful to read now. But it has always been a great read.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gary Lake Forest, CA, United States 02-07-12
    Gary Lake Forest, CA, United States 02-07-12 Member Since 2011

    Just this guy, ya know?

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A little dated, but still a good story"
    Would you listen to Stand on Zanzibar again? Why?

    Probably not. I first read this as a young man in the late '60s or early '70s and wanted to see how it held up, since it's set in 2010. While some of Brunner's story is fairly prescient, i.e. he predicted Viagra and other


    What did you like best about this story?

    The character development. Brunner was very good at putting you inside the heads of a wide variety of characters with different personalities and goals. I like that.


    What do you think the narrator could have done better?

    Read the novel and take some notes before starting to narrate. There were weird inflection and timing issues, i.e. something like


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Christ, what an imagination I've got.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stephen San Diego, CA, United States 10-07-11
    Stephen San Diego, CA, United States 10-07-11 Member Since 2009

    I'm just this guy, y'know?

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Incredible Prescience"

    In spite of the obvious places where he missed, the accuracy of some of the predictions of 2010 (written in 1968) are astounding.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Matthew Eugene, OR, United States 10-31-11
    Matthew Eugene, OR, United States 10-31-11 Listener Since 2009
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    "Buy the paperback."

    Throughout the book are whole chapters of schizophrenic commercials chopped off and randomized to give the reader an impression of someone changing stations rapidly. I'm sure the author intended this to help immerse the reader in his universe, however in AUDIO book form it has the opposite effect. If you're the kind of person that mutes tv or radio commercials you will hate the Audio version of this book.

    The narrator does a great job of painstakingly voice acting every commercial in the book. This is part of the problem. Imagine you're listening to any given audiobook you've already bought from audible. Now imagine that story being CONSTANTLY interrupted by 7-15 minutes worth of well voice acted radio commercials.

    3 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jewel hayesville, NC, United States 09-24-11
    Jewel hayesville, NC, United States 09-24-11 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Story is not worth the credit"

    The author is trying to be clever by having long paragraphs of random made up radio broadcasts. This almost takes up half the book, and gets boring very fast.

    2 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dani Millar Toronto, ON, Canada 01-22-13
    Dani Millar Toronto, ON, Canada 01-22-13
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    "Painfull and Boring but Your Millage May Vary."
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    If the reader had not used the text as an excuse to do funny voices and accents. A proper reader and producer might have trusted the words of the author to convey mood and character.


    Has Stand on Zanzibar turned you off from other books in this genre?

    I have read a lot of speculative fiction from the fifties and sixties and this book stands out as being unimaginative and bound by tired tropes and lazy thinking. It is what one would expect from a Pulp writer rather than a serious Science Fiction author. The future represented in this book is based on a facile spelling-out of the popular issues of the day and does not make any serious attempt at world building or imagining plausible shifts in cultural norms or new technologies. It seems as though the research for the book consisted mainly of reading Time magazine. It was very disappointing after just having finished Return from the Stars by Stanislaw Lem.


    How could the performance have been better?

    The reader could have moderated his performance. Maybe he could have attempted to portray a man reading a book aloud, say a Librivox volunteer, instead of doing silly voices that made all the dialog of female characters sound like variations on a frat boy in drag trying to speak like a twelve year-old girl from California and reading young people's dialog like a thirty-five year-old actor portraying a delinquent teen in a 50s B-movie. I was particularly struck by the use of ludicrous Foo Man Shu accents for characters in China speaking Chinese among themselves.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    It was very irritating to listen to the "performance" and the text was repetitive and boring. I tried to suppress the reader's "vocal stylings" by listening at x3 speed but gave up before completing a third of the book.


    Any additional comments?

    I have been listening to Books-on-Tape as well as Libirvox recordings and computer generated Text-to-Speech for years... maybe Audible just isn't for me. I have had several unpleasant experiences and abandoned several Audiable audiobooks as unlistenable although the Vin Packer book I am listening to now doesn't seem too bad. The female dialog is not "performed" in falsetto. I guess I will try this and one more book before bailing on my subscription.

    0 of 5 people found this review helpful
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