Stand on Zanzibar

John Brunner
Stand on Zanzibar Cover

Stand on Zanzibar - John Brunner


This is an award-winning book, listed in multiple top 10 and top 100 categories. It is a big story with a lot of small characters, reminding me of Anathem and Galápagos, among others. It is also a wild story to read, utilizing a cacophony to deliver a layered plot and environment. Only the ending was unsatisfying.

The three main characters are solidly described, and their interactions make the story. While we seem closer than ever this year to the casual racism and sexism in the novel, it was very much a product of the time - this was originally published in 1968. The Muckers are also a great concept, based on the overpopulation studies of rats. Finally, the feel of overpopulation (including government reproductive interference) was oppressively realistic.

For me, there were way too many background characters, and about two thirds of the way through, the author has a "where are they now" infodump for them - then at the end, obituaries for many. They added to the noise, but didn't make the book unreadable. The new discovery at the very end was unconvincing, and the ending suffered for that. Minor flaws, but enough to drag it off the 5 star pedestal.

Rating: 4 out of 5 (the same as the number of uplifted orangutans that committed suicide in this book). This was a leftover from last years unfinished 60s reading challenge that will instead fit quite nicely in the 2018 Dystopia challenge.