John Brunner

John Killian Houston Brunner was born in Oxfordshire, England on September 24, 1934. He went to school at St. Andrew's Prep School. His first novel, Galactic Storm, was published when he was 17 under the name of Gill Hunt. He served in the Royal Air Force from 1953 to 1955, and married his first wife, Marjorie, in 1958.

He began seriously writing full time around 1958, writing primarily space operas. These are considered unremarkable but his later work, his best and most mature writing, involves complex analysis of social trends and where they will take humans through their development. His novel Stand on Zanzibar, 1968, deals with overpopulation and the stressed-out world of the early 21st century. In it he addresses the problem of what happens to people where there are starting to be too many of them. He won the 1969 Hugo Award for Best Science Fiction Novel for this work.

Brunner is credited with coining the term "worm"" and predicting the emergence of computer viruses in his novel The Shockwave Rider, 1975. This is often called the first cyberpunk novel as it describes an internet-like continental data network and the important plot events that take place on it. These themes would later be picked up by William Gibson and Neal Stephenson, among other writers of the 80s and 90s.

Brunner got critical respect for his work, but never gained the fame or fortune that top writers enjoy. He remained active in the science fiction community until his death at the 53rd World Science Fiction Convention in 1995.

Times Without Number

"MULTIPLY THE EARTH BY THREE.AND THE FUTURE BY INFINITY! - Traveling backwards in time, Don Miguel had to undo the errors and interruptions of other time-interlopers; he had to preserve the present. Even the most insignificant nudging of the past could entirely alter his world! And he suspected that this had aleady happened: that a maniacal genius crazed with a desire for nationalist vindication had plotted to alter the victorious outcome of the Spanish Armada of 1588 - thus changing recorded history and perhaps even imperiling the mighty Spanish Empire of 1988! If Don Miguel did not successfully intercede, when he came back to the present he might find a different world...a different time...a time in which he probably didn't even exist!"

Original Publication: Ace, October 1962
This Edition: Ace, October 1962
Cover Art: Ed Valigursky
Format: Paperback

Notes:

Ace Double #F-161 with David Grinnell's (Donald Wollheim) Destiny's Orbit

Review:


Endless Shadow

"Azreal - Where pain was the only reality, and murder was not a crime but a ritual. Ipewell - Where motherhood was honored and manhood meant a life of servitude and fear. These two worlds were at the heart of a taut and dangerous situation which threatened to explode, and Jorgen Thorkild, director of the Bridge System that connected forty worlds amoung the stars, had to try to tame them. But Thorkild faced still another problem: the loss of his own sanity."

Original Publication: Ace, August 1964
This Edition: Ace, August 1964
Cover Art: Ed Valigursky
Format: Paperback

Notes:

Variant title of The Bridge to Azrael. Ace Double #F-299 with Gardner F. Fox's The Arsenal of Miracles

Review:


The Long Result

Original Publication: Faber and Faber, November 1965
This Edition: Ballantine, March 1970
Cover Art: Steele Savage
Format: Paperback

Notes:

Review:


Now Then!

"NOW THEN! In Some Lapse of Time Dr. Max Harrow will stroll down the corridors of this busy hospital into the radioactive grasp of an enigmatic tramp with a message from the future: the severed joint of a human finger..a finger belonging to Dr. Max Harrow. NOW THEN! Have you ever wanted to be like God? Bernard Brown hadn't considered the matter seriously until he was presented with the opportunity in The Imprint of Chaos. NOW THEN! A group of spacetroopers learn a lesson in humanity from the most astonishing source of all: a planet of robots who know what it is to be called Thou Good and Faithful. John Brunner hsa beocme one of the most talked about of the new science fiction writers as each new story and novel reveals new aspects of a startlingly original mind. NOW THEN is triple demonstration of his skills."

Original Publication: Mayflower-Dell, October 1965
This Edition: Avon, June 1968
Cover Art: Hector Garrido
Format: Paperback

Notes:

Contents: Some Lapse of Time, Imprint of Chaos and Thou Good and Faithful by John Brunner

Review:


The Squares of the City

"THE SQUARES OF THE CITY is a tour-de-force, a disciplined exercise peopled originally by wooden or ivory or jade figurines, now fleshed and clothed and given dramatic life in a battle as old as the classic conflict of chess. But these are real people. When heads roll, blood gouts out and drenches the remaining players while they watch in horrified fascination - until their turn comes. For it is a real game. And the players - especially the players - cannot tell the outcome. Even when their lives depend on it."

Original Publication: Ballantine, December 1965
This Edition: Ballantine, December 1965
Cover Art: Robert Foster
Format: Paperback

Notes:

Review:


Born Under Mars

"When mankind colonized the stars, it developed into two different, antagonistic types that had left Mars behind. As well, they had left behind the dead-end Mars-born mutations - with which man had once tested his adaptiveness - on a world that had since fallen into apathy and decay. But when secret agents of the two branches of humanity focused their unwelcome attention on the most recent star mission of one such mutation, he had no time to ponder the plight of his home planet. For Ray Mallin found himself the unwitting key to a secret that could affect the entire future of mankind."

Original Publication: Ace, October 1967
This Edition: Ace, June 1973
Cover Art: Unknown
Format: Paperback

Notes:

Review:


The World Swappers

"New planets for old.The galaxy was caught in the crushing vice of a struggle for power. The political titans of the planets of mankind were making their bids for supremacy. The contestants: Counce, man of strange powers, authority in the spheres of the intellect; and Bassett, man of money-power, financial and business wizard. As the association of human worlds drew near the teetering edge of internal revolutions, one of these men would be in a position to triumph. The only thing that neither side could foresee was that there were others hovering among the stars, looking for new worlds to conquer!"

Original Publication: Ace Double, October 1959
This Edition: Ace, 1967
Cover Art: Frank Kelly Freas
Format: Paperback

Notes:

Review:


Bedlam Planet

"Everything about the planet revolving around Sigma Draconis seemed to indicate that it was an uninhabited paradise. But what, then, was so troubling to the pioneer colony? Was it really possible to simply duplicate Earth on any vacant world? Or was there a lot more to planetary ecology than humanity realized? In the talented hands of John Brunner, it is a problem more complex - yet devilishly simpler - than might be supposed."

Original Publication: Ace, April 1968
This Edition: Ace, September 1975
Cover Art: Unknown
Format: Paperback

Notes:

Review:


Into the Slave Nebula

"GALACTIC SAVER - For Earth, it was a time of unprecedented peach and prosperity. Science had finally triumphed over the environment, and all conceivable humanneeds were taken care of my computers, robots and androids. There was nothing left for the men of Earth but to seek pleasure, in never-ending carnival - without inhibitions and without thinking of the price. Then an android died - and young Derry Horn was shcked out of his boredom and alienation. The death seemed to be senseless: brutal murder, a throwback to the ancient past. But there was reason behind the horror, a reson that drove Derry on a fantastically dangerous ission to out-lying, primitive stars. There he learned the shocking truth that threatened the galaxy and all of mankind - and Derry knew that his universe must be shattered and reborn, even if he and the Earth he left behind must die in the process!"

Original Publication: Lancer, October 1968
This Edition: Lancer, July 1972
Cover Art: Kelly Freas
Format: Paperback

Notes:

Variant title of Slavers of Space

Review:


The Avengers of Carrig

"Once the city of Carrig stood supreme on this planet that had been settled by space refugees in the distant, forgotten past. From every corner of this primitive lost world caravans came to trade -and to view the great King-Huny, the gruesome test by which the people of Carrig chose their rulers. Then from space came new arrivals. And with them came their invincible death guns and their ruthless, all-powerful tyranny. Now there was no King-Hunt in Carrig, or hope for the planet - unless a fool-hardy high-born names Saikmar, and a beautiful Earthling space-spy named Maddalena, could do the impossible..."

Original Publication: Dell, October 1969
This Edition: Dell, October 1969
Cover Art: Jack Gaughan
Format: Paperback

Notes:

Variant title of Secret Agent of Terra

Review:


Catch a Falling Star

"A hundred thousand years from now, it was discovered that a star was approaching the world on a collision course. Its discoverer, Creohan, figured there might be a time to save the world if he could arouse everyone to the danger. But the earth had become a strange and kaleidoscopic place in that distant era. Too many empires had risen and fallen, too many cultures had spread their shattered fragments across a planet whose very maps had long since been forgotten. People were too busy with their own private dreams to pay attention to one more new alarm. The story of Creohan's effort to Catch a Falling Star is one of John Brunner's most colorful science fiction concepts."

Original Publication: Ace, November 1968
This Edition: Ace, November 1968
Cover Art: John Schoenherr
Format: Paperback

Notes:

Alternate title of The 100th Millennium. Interior Artwork by Jack Gaughan.

Review:


Stand on Zanzibar

"This is a giant of a book, in many senses of the word. It had to be to give elbow-room for its subject matter - the portrayal of an entire world. There are seven billion-plus of our species, crowding the surface of twenty-first century of Earth in an age of acceleratubes, Moonbase Zero, intelligent computers, mass marketed psychedelics, politics by assassination, scientists who burn incense to appease volcanoes - hive-living hysteria that is reaching its bursting point all over the world. But a hive seldom knows its own madness until its too late. Employing a dazzling range of literary techniques, John Brunner has created a future world as real as this morning's newspaper - moving, sensory, impressionistic, as jagged as the times it portrays, this book is a real mind-stretcher - and yet beautifully orchestrated to give a vivid picture of the whole. Read it with care - move in with it - this may be where we're headed..."

Original Publication: Doubleday, September 1968
This Edition: Ballantine, September 1969
Cover Art: Unknown
Format: Paperback

Notes:

Review:


Times Without Number

"Traveling backward in time, Don Miguel had to undo the errors and interruptions of other time-interlopers; he had to preserve the present. Even the most insignificant nudging of the past could entirely alter the present! And he suspected that this had already happened: that a maniacal genius crazed with desire for nationalist vindication had plotted to alter the victorious outcome of the SPanish Armada of 1588 - thus changing recorded history and perhaps even imperilling the Imperial Spanish Empire of 1988! If Don Miguel did not successfully intercede, when he came back to the present he might find a different world...a different time...a time in which he probably didn't even exist"

Original Publication: Ace Double, October 1962
This Edition: Ace, November 1969
Cover Art: John Schoenherr
Format: Paperback

Notes:

Contents: Spoil of Yesterday, The Word Not Written and The Fullness of Time

Review:


The Traveler in Black

"When Chaos Rules the Cosmos. The time was the unguessably remote past - or perhaps the distant future. Throughout the universe, Chaos ruled. Scientific laws of cause and effect held no force; men could not know from one day to the next what to expect from their labors, and even hope seemed foolish. In this universe there was one man to whom had been entrusted the task of bringing reason and order out of Chaos. He was a quiet man dressed in black who carried a staff made of light, and wherever he went the powers of Chaos swirled around him, buffeted him, tested him. He fought them, and little by little he drove them back. But the Traveler in Black himself belonged to the anti-science universe. If he succeeded in his task of changing the order of the cosmos, could he continue to live?"

Original Publication: Ace, January 1971
This Edition: Ace, January 1971
Cover Art: Diane and Leo Dillon
Format: Paperback

Notes:

Review:


The Wrong End of Time

"The time is the future. The place, an America so isolated by fear that it is cut off from the rest of the world by a massive defense system. Into this armed, barricaded state comes a young Russian scientist beearing a strange - and almost unbelievable story: Superior, intelligent life - of a far higher order than any on earth - has been detected near the planet Pluto. Immune themselves by virtue of their far greater intelligence, these Aliens are about to destroy the planet Earth. The only person who can provide the solution is a brilliant and clairvoyant young American black, hunted by the ever-present police, hidden far within the turbulent, festering slum of one of America's jungle cities. Somehow he must be found before the planet melts in one final holocaust..."

Original Publication: Doubleday, December 1971
This Edition: DAW, July 1973
Cover Art: Chris Foss
Format: Paperback

Notes:

Interior Artwork by Jack Gaughan.

Review:


The Dramaturges of Yan

"A dramaturge is an artist in dramatic presentation.and whoever had built the prehistoric artifacts on Yan had known the art of dramaturgy well. Studying these astonishing objects was the sole reason for the tiny human colony there. The humanoid natives did not seem to care. It was not until the galaxy's greatest dramaturge, Chart, and his theatrical company arrived with the intent of putting on one of his spectacular planet-wide celestial shows that the Tanfolk stirred from their indifference. And suddenly it became a matter of desperate urgency to determine fast what the ancient artifacts meant - and which was the real drama being played on Yan - the act in the sky or the crisis growing on the surface. It's John Brunner's brilliant new novel - a worthy follow up to Stand on Zanzibar."

Original Publication: Ace, February 1972
This Edition: Ace, February 1972
Cover Art: Chris Foss
Format: Paperback

Notes:

Review:


Entry to Elsewhen

"The generation born and raised within the first starshop seemed increasingly strange to the Earth-born crew, their own parents. There was a growing gap between them, an alienation none of the psychologial planners had provided for. When the vast ship reached its destination, the crisis came to a head. Then, for the first time, the great schemes and dreams of Earth to colonize the universe were confronted by the reality of humans whose natural habitat was interstellar space only. They, too, had their dreams - and they were not of planets. John Brunner, one of the great masters of science fiction and winner of honors and awards on two continents, makes this just one of the three unusual science fiction themes in his new book."

Original Publication: DAW, October 1972
This Edition: DAW, October 1972
Cover Art: Jack Gaughan
Format: Paperback

Notes:

Contents: Host Age, Lungfish and No Other Gods But Me by John Brunner

Review:


The Jagged Orbit

"The Mad Oracle. She could see into other people's minds. But the Sybil-pills that gave her that power drove her mind into insanity. Don't you find yourself wondering where this world of ours is going? To an early grave, perhaps? John Brunner has extrapolated from the themes you hear about every day - drugs, violence, high-level corruption, inhumane treatment of the too-casually defined "insane," and the general dissolution of society - and constructed a compelling, chilling novel of what may well be the not-so-distant future."

Original Publication: Ace, February 1969
This Edition: Ace, November 1972
Cover Art: Josh Kirby
Format: Paperback

Notes:

Review:


The Stardroppers

"A stardropper got its name from the belief that the user was evesdropping on the stars. But that was only a guess.nobody really knows what the instrument did. The instrument itself made no sense scientifically. A conventional earpiece, an emplifier, a power source - all attached to a small vacuum box, an alnico magnet, and a calibrated "tuner." What you got from all this was some very extraordinary noises and the conviction that you were listening to beings from space and could almost understand what you were hearing. What brought Special Agent Dan Cross into the stardropper problem was the carefully censored news that users of the instrument had begun to disappear. They popped out of existence suddenly - and the world's leaders began to suspect that somehow the fad had lit the fuse on a bomb that would either destroy the world or change it forever."

Original Publication: DAW, September 1972
This Edition: DAW, September 1972
Cover Art: Jack Gaughan
Format: Paperback

Notes:

Variant title of Listen! The Stars!, 1963.

Review:


The Dreaming Earth

"Here is a novel to equal Arthur C. Clarke's great work, Childhood's End. It tells with frightening clarity of a desperately stricken earth - wracked by overpopulation and plagued by famine and despair. It tells, too, of a new breed of men and women - twenty first century lotus eaters caught up in a mysterious euphoria which will ultimately threaten all life on this planet: the drug-induced world of "happy dreams." Do these "happy dreamers" herald the end of the human race - or the next extraordinary step in the evolution of Man?"

Original Publication: Pyramid, February 1963
This Edition: Pyramid, January 1975
Cover Art: Unknown
Format: Paperback

Notes:

Review:


Total Eclipse

"Sigma Draconis, nineteen light-years from earth, had once harbored a world with a high civilization. But that would had died and only certain mysterious artifacts remained - wonderful creations but just one of each kind. By the year 2028, humanity was facing its own final crisis. And the starship Stellaris was sent to find out the cause of that neighboring race's extinction. If they could discover why, it might mean saving our own world from a similar disaster John Brunner, Hugo-winning author of Stand On Zanzibar, and many other outstanding novels, again combines a taut and dramatic future adventure with a prophetic projection worthy of an Arthur C. Clarke or an Ursula K. le Guin."

Original Publication: Doubleday, May 1974
This Edition: DAW, September 1975
Cover Art: Christopher Foss
Format: Paperback

Notes:

Review:


The Shockwave Rider

"He was the most dangerous fugitive alive, but he didn't exist! Nickie Haflinger had lived a score of lifetimes.but technically he didn't exist. He was a fugitive from Tarnover, the High-powered government think tank that had educated him. First he had broken his identity code- then he escaped. Now he had to find a way to restore sanity and personal freedom to the computerized masses and to save a world tottering on the brink of disaster. He didn't care how he did it...bu the government did. That's when his Tarnover teachers got him back in their labs...and Nickie Haflinger was set up for a whole new education!"

Original Publication: Harper & Row, March 1975
This Edition: Del Rey/Ballantine, March 1978
Cover Art: Murray Tinkelman
Format: Paperback

Notes:

Review:


Quicksand

"She appeared in our world naked, defenseless, unable to say a word anyone could understand. Her origin was at first simply a puzzle, then a scientific enigma, and finally a series of terrifying surmises that her most fascinated investigator was afraid to probe. But probe he must, for somehow he knew that this strange girl was a key to the kind of information science had sought for centuries. But the more he uncovered from the depths of her mind, the deeper became the quicksand into which his own was sinking. John Brunner, Hugo-winning author, presents in Quicksand one of his most unusual and thought-provoking science fiction novels."

Original Publication: Doubleday, December 1967
This Edition: DAW, July 1976
Cover Art: Paul Lehr
Format: Paperback

Notes:

Review:


The Crucible of Time

"A Radical Proposal.Life had become too interesting on one world crawling across the rubble-strewn arm of a spiral galaxy, for as the system moved it swept up cosmic dust and debris. Ice ages and periods of tropical warmth followed one another very quickly. Meteors large and small fell constantly. Yesterday's fabled culture might be tomorrow's interesting hole in the ground. But society had always endured. Many thought it always would. Only the brightest scientists admitted that to survive, the race would have to abandon the planet. And to do that they'd have to invent spacecraft....With The Crucible of Time John Brunner returns to the large-canvas science fiction he pioneered in his Hugo Award-winning novel Stand on Zanzibar. This engrossing epic describes the development, over millennia, or a species from a culture of planet-bound medieval city-states to a sophisticated, technological civilization."

Original Publication: Del Rey/Ballantine, September 1983
This Edition: Del Rey/Ballantine, August 1984
Cover Art: Don Dixon
Format: Paperback

Notes:

Review:


The Tides of Time

"What price the stars? To a desperate , depleted Earth no price seemed too high to pay. And so Project Go was founded in the hope of discovering the key that would give the people of Earth passage to other worlds. Volunteer after volunteer was sent out. The lucky ones came back dead, the others hopelessly insane. Then the impossible happened: Gene and Stacy returned from their journey to the unknown, and both of them seemed unharmed. But before the scientists could finish questioning them, the two fled into hiding on a small island that h ad sheltered weary and troubled travelers since before history began. Finding them there was easy enough - but what the mission leaders could not understand was why Gene and Stacy no longer recognized them. And who was there to explain to these pragmatic scientists that the answer they were seeking would be found if they could only be patient; it was simply a matter of time...."

Original Publication: Del Rey/Ballantine, December 1984
This Edition: Del Rey/Ballantine/Science Fiction Book Club, May 1985
Cover Art: Don Dixon
Format: Hardback

Notes:

Review:


Children of the Thunder

"Science writer Peter Levin sensed a major story behind Claudia Morris's research into juvenile delinquency. For the American sociologist had uncovered a disturbing pattern of crimes that were unusual even in the rapidly deteriorating society of 1990's Britain. David had made a fortune creating highly addictive designer drugs. Sheila, alone and unarmed, had killed a MArine commando. Roger, a boarding school student, ran a sex-ring that catered to the most depraved tastes. All their offences went unpunished. And all of the criminals were barely fourteen years old. As Caludia's research turned up further cases, Peter realized that they were on to much more than just a story. For these children were either the last hope for mankind's survival...or the beginning of the end of what it meant to be human."

Original Publication: Del Rey/Ballantine, January 1989
This Edition: Del Rey/Ballantine, January 1989
Cover Art: Michael Whelan
Format: Paperback

Notes:

Review:


A Maze of Stars

"Mobius Unbound.Among the six hundred thousand stars in the vast Arm of Stars, over six hundred planets had been seeded with human stock by the greatest feat of technology ever achieved, the Ship. And on each of these worlds, the memory of the Ship had faded into legend over the years. The Ship, however, still endured, watching over the colonies on a cyclical and seemingly endless journey through time and space. But in its long odyssey, the Ship had somehow been damaged - it had become as concious, and lonely, as any human being. And as it visited, again and again, each of the worlds it had seeded, it found tragedy in its wake. For the humans of the Arms of Stars were becoming more and more alien. Even worse, the Ship was beginning to change in other ways its designers had never intended..."

Original Publication: Del Rey/Ballantine, July 1991
This Edition: Del Rey/Ballantine, March 1992
Cover Art: John Berkey
Format: Paperback

Notes:

Review:

Original content 2013-2017 Paula's Reading Room. All rights reserved.