Reviews of Stand on Zanzibar (1968)
Review by ropie (2006-02-12)
Stand on Zanzibar should be noted primarily for its scope - it is a book of many, many parts: A cast of hundreds; a multi-faceted running plot line involving complex socio-political and economic ideas; scores of sub-plots, each encapsulated as individual chapters cleverly sub-titled "Tracking With Closeups"; furiously paced excerpts from the contemporary television information service and social comentator-cum-celebrity, Chad Mulligan.
The whole is a remarkable attempt to portray life as it might be forty years in the future. As I write we are almost at the time Brunner was describing in 1968 and in many instances his predictions are accurate and visionary. In others, particularly the irritating use of colloquial langauge terms, he is quite wide of the mark.
Not that it really matters when the work is as richly detailed and relevant as this is. The stories of Donald Hogan and Norman House, starting as one and separating in to two singularly important separate strands in the world of 2010, provide enough interest and excitment on their own. They are also interspersed with the afore-metioned scene-setting which is just as fascinating and important to an understanding of the whole.
Stand on Zanzibar is really far too complex to be summed up in one short review. Suffice it to say it is not an easy read, despite the interesting breaking up of the book in to four distinct chapter-types, there are times when one is just overwhelmed by the amount of information available. Reading SOZ is like receiving an education on what could have been - and what in some cases is, or could still possibly become of - the world we live in, made all the more amazing by the fact that it was written in a different era.