I loved this book when it came out in 1968.  I thought it was daringly brilliant, a frightening projection of what the world might be like in 2010.  Reading it in 2012, I’m reminded that projection isn’t the same as prediction.

As a predictor, writing in the mid-1960s, Brunner missed a few things like cell phones, the internet, auto-immune disorders like AIDS, and Iran replacing Egypt as the middle-east bad guy.  He also missed the facts that a permanent moon base and suborbital high-speed airliners simply weren’t in the cards, economically.  But he also got a lot right.

In the 60s, we were obsessed with overpopulation, the Cold War, and breaking down the paradigms we had grown up with.  That’s what “Stand on Zanzibar” focuses on along with the essence of human nature, and I still think it handles those themes brilliantly.  The invented hip jargon feels dated, but that’s an easily overcome obstacle once you get into the meat of the story.  A lot of what Brunner warned about has happened already.  It’s scary.

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