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Stand on Zanzibar

Narrated by: Erik Bergmann
Length: 21 hrs and 16 mins
4 out of 5 stars (151 ratings)

Regular price: $34.01

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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

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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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.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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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.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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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.

13 of 14 people found this review helpful

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Balanced multiplex of future that's, err, now.

Witty and entertaining and in many aspects prophetic story of 21st century politics, science, dilemma of eugenetics and consumer lifestyle. Some of this has happened already and clash with China is certainly looming ahead. And all along tongue in cheek. Not at all aged 1968 book a delight. With amusing sidestories in interlacing chapters making easy listening in small doses. Highly recommend to SF fans but also a good example of witty science fiction for the doubtful or novice - few chapters of confusion in the beginning to a non SF reader not used to neologisms. So be warned.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Seen any muckers in the news lately?

This book is still very relevant today. It is far more social fiction then science fiction.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars

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.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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eerily accurate in its predictions

I don't know how else to put it. The book pretty accurately describes life now. The author hut home on so many of his predictions of our lives that its haunting.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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visionary

I must have rechecked three times, during the reading, that it really was written around the time I was born. This could have been written yesterday. In science, for theory to be considered valid, it must exhibit predictive capacity. And of course, great science fiction is the same. This novel is brilliant in its social predictive capacity. I am sorry to be redundant, but I must write it again. Brilliant! I even bought a copy for my favorite student. I am, dying to see what sar thinks of it.

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As good as I remembered

I’ve read this book many times in the last fifty years, but Bergmann’s performance made me appreciate it even more than I had. Social commentary, tech trends, suspense and tragedy, this book has it all. It reminded me of Dos Passos, but I think I enjoyed Brunner’s book even more. It’s a real sci-fi classic.

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Far better as an audio book

The content is a standard dystopia. I think this book won awards for its style and I didn't like the style. In addition, as I said its pretty standard and I can live with "style" if the content is sufficient. I think Mr Brunner has read "Island" by Mr Huxley.

If you get this book get the audio version. It really helped bring out the tenor and character of the book. If I had been reading it I would have merely glanced at many of the chapters, without missing anything. Mr. Bergmann does an excellent job of conveying the overall sense of the world, especially in the style/mood/atmosphere chapters.