An enduring classic, this book offers a dramatic and prophetic look at the potential consequences of the escalating destruction of Earth. In this nightmare society, air pollution is so bad that gas masks are commonplace. Infant mortality is up, and everyone seems to suffer from some form of ailment.
Matthew Flamen, the last of the networks' spoolpigeons, is desperate for a big story. He needs it to keep his audience and his job. And there is no shortage of possibilities: the Gottschalk cartel is fomenting trouble among the knees in order to sell their latest armaments to the blanks; which ties in nicely with the fact that something big is brewing with the X Patriots; and it looks as if the inconceivable is about to happen and that one of Britain's most dangerous revolutionaries is going to be given a visa to enter America. And then there's the story that just falls into his lap. The one that suggests that the respected Director of the New York State Mental Hospital is a charlatan... John Brunner's brilliant and scathing vision of a society disintegrating under the impact of violence, drugs, high-level corruption and the casual institutionalization of the 'insane' was a powerful and important statement in 1969. It remains a compelling and chilling tour de force three decades on.
This is a collection of stories of the Traveller in Black. It is set in a world where chaos rules. One man - the man with many names, but one nature - is charged with creating order out of the warring forces of nature.
Imprint of Chaos (1960)
Break the Door of Hell (1966)
The Wager Lost by Winning (1970)
The Things That Are Gods (1979)
Dread Empire (1971)
When racial hatred turns to murderous menace . . . First a rocket ship loses its engines on take-off and is destroyed. On board - an important extra-terrestrial visitor. Next someone slams into the sealed vehicle used for transporting aliens around in the lethal atmosphere of Earth. Then the vital controlled environment for the Tau Cetian delegation is sabotaged. Oxygen leaks in, and the aliens are half burnt alive. Even if it means brutal murder, The Stars Are For Man League is determined to shatter the harmony between Earth and civilizations on other planets - and to keep mankind supreme among the alien life forms. Only one man can stop them - a man who unknowingly nurses a viper in his bosom . . . First published in 1965.
Whether or not he had wanted to turn back at the last minute, he couldn't have - the wave of dirty, hungry people carried him helplessly along in their fervour reach the temple. Like dope addicts, he told himself, they don't even care about themselves, only about the thing that is inside the temple! He remembered the day ten years ago when his older brother had been made a Warden of Asconel, a prosperous and happy planet, and he and his other brothers had left in the interests of their people. Now they returned to a world where a fanatical cult had usurped the Warden's chair, and men and women were offering themselves up as human sacrifices to Belizuek - whoever or whatever that being from beyond the galaxy was . . . I'll find out, he told himself grimly, when I enter these doors . . . (First published 1965)
"Brunner was a giant of sf, dealing at his best with lived-in futures combining extrapolative exhilaration & the nightmare of future shock. 'Stand on Zanzibar' ('68) with its focus on overpopulation was his recognized blockbuster. It slightly overshadows its companion volumes 'The Jagged Orbit' ('69), 'The Sheep Look Up' ('72)--a scarifying polemic against pollution which ends with the stench of all America burning--& 'The Shockwave Rider' ('75), prophetically mapping problems of information overload, computer viruses, rampant hacking & the net. John Brunner was cursed by sanity & a hatred of superstition & cant combined with wide-ranging erudition. His peace-activism & left-leaning political views were perhaps factors in his sometimes disappointing US sales."--Dave Langford.
"There are two particularly identifiable phases in his writing career. In the 50s & early 60s, he was turning out numerous competent space adventures. In the late 60s & early 70s, he was writing near-future socially-oriented fiction, referred to as dystopias. Many of these books are written under the shadow of the VietNam war."--Dani Zweig.
"The girl walked naked out of nowhere on a winter night & to psychiatrist Paul Fidler it was as if one of his own obsessive visions of disaster took human form, bringing nightmares to life. Tiny, appearing harmless, she had half killed a man who tried to assault her. Piquantly lovely, she belonged to no known racial type. Of high intelligence, she spoke a language no one could be found to understand. Most remarkable of all, commonplace objects like clothing & cars were a mystery to her. They called her "Urchin." Himself haunted by visions of unrealized disaster, irrationally terrified by things he might have done wrong but escaped by chance, threatened by the failure of his marriage & with it his career, Paul sees in her a victim of his own fears made real. Has she truly wandered out of her own familiar world & been cast adrift--the loneliest of all lonely people--in another branch of the universe? Inexorably, as he scrapes at the barriers of secrecy that surround Urchin, he finds his fate becoming linked to hers. His life collapses about him until at last he has nothing left but Urchin herself & the vision she has given him of a world far better than any he has ever known. But does he really have either? Quicksand is a novel of today about a lone man facing a fantastic crisis. It will move you to pity & sadness."
Kynance Foy was young, beautiful, intelligent an highly trained in both qua-space physics and business law when she left Earth to seek her fortune in the interstellar outworlds. But she found that the further she got from Earth, the tougher became the competition from the environment-hardened populations of these young worlds . . . and by the time she reached the planet Nefertiti, she was facing poverty. Then, unexpectedly, a wonderful opportunity opened up for her: the job of Planetary Supervisor of the fabulously wealthy world called Zygra, where exotic pelts costing a million credits each were grown. The salary was huge, and at the end of the year's tour of duty she would be transported free of charge back to Earth, where she would be a very wealthy young woman. There had to be a catch to it, she thought as she signed the contract. And, of course, there was. (First published 1966)
The Galaxy was caught in the crushing vice of a struggle for power. The political titans of the human planets were making their bids for supremacy.
The contestants: Counce, man of strange powers, authority in the spheres of intellect. Bassett, man of money-powers, financial & business wizard.
As the association of human worlds drew near the teetering edge of revolution, one of those 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!
One man has made it his mission to liberate the mental prisoners. to restore their freedom in a world run mad.
Nickie Halflinger, the only person to escape from Tarnover- where they raise hyper-intelligent children to maintain the political dominance of the USA in the 21st century – is on the run, dodging from loophole to crevice to crack in the computerised data-net that binds the continent like chains. After years of flight and constant changes of identity, at the strange small town called Precipice he discovers he is not alone in his quest. But can his new allies save him when he falls again into the sinister grasp of Tarnover...?
He was 'The Visitor' . . . in a society revolutionised and troubled by a transportation device that let you walk through a door and be anywhere in the world - instantly. He was 'The Visitor' . . . at a time when unauthorised travel had caused the violent deaths of countless millions and the survivors were quaking in fear. He was 'The Visitor' . . . in a world where the invasion of privacy was the ultimate crime and where his obsession with visiting places where he had no right to be led him on a perilous adventure towards his own destruction.
When the sleepy town of Weyharrow is enveloped by a mysterious fog, the inhabitants find themselves behaving in strange and dangerous ways. Dr Steven Glaze, a young probationary GP, prescribes a most unorthodox treatment for arthritis; the vicar proclaims in morning service that the villagers are in the hands of the devil; and Phyllis Knabbe tragically commits suicide. Throughout the village people have seemingly taken leave of their senses Soon word leaks out and Weharrow becomes inundated both by the national press and a bus load of hippies seeking a magical experience, who believe that a nearby ancient pagan temple is somehow responsible for this strange phenomenon. But Steven Glaze and Jenny, a reporter for the local newspaper, feel sure that there is more to this than meets the eye and they set out to discover the cause - supernatural or otherwise - of everyone's drastically altered behaviour
Traveling backward in time, Don Miguel had to undo the errors and interruptions of other time-interlopers. Even the most insignificant nudging of the past could entirely alter the present! And he suspected 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 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!
Although termed a novel it is really a group of three novelettes previously published under the titles:
Spoil of Yesterday (1969 revised/expanded edition)
The Word Not Written (1969 revised/expanded edition)
The Fullness of Time (1969 revised/expanded edition)
A savagely lacerating satire, this is an example of the sort of literature of ideas sf was before commercial formulae & interminable series took over. A lot of today's readers won't get it & may be pissed off by its unresolved ending. But it's a very good story—though perhaps not quite as good as the socially conscious SF Brunner was producing during his peak a decade previous—& its unapologetic defiance of convention is a breath of fresh air when nearly everything today seems an attempt at a franchise & some authors are happier chugging out Star Wars novels for an easy paycheck than coming up with original sf.
Players at the Game of People is an attack on the leisure class, that fundamentally European institution of bygone days translated into a near-future milieu. Godwin Harpinshield is one of a select number who've entered into this quasi-Faustian arrangement with mysterious beings referred to as "owners." His every desire is catered to. He always gets the best table, the best women. He can travel across the globe & even, apparently, through time in the endless & yet increasingly futile pursuit of pleasure. He has only one obligation: he must recruit someone. This he does by rescuing a pathetic & naturally vulnerable young prostitute from her dead-end lifestyle while she still has a spark of hope & ambition. While it isn't altruistic, this act spells the beginning of the end. Unexpectedly, he meets the girl's mother, who's come looking for her. This encounter not only offers up a surprising personal revelation, it also prompts him to be bold about questioning the nature of the owners & what they're getting out of all this.
Brunner deliberately leaves several aspects of his story unexplained, not the least of which is who the owners are. While this won't make those folks happy who have to have boldface explanations for everything, the novel as it is wouldn't have worked as well without these elements of mystery. By leaving certain key questions up for speculation, he puts you squarely on the same playing field with Harpinshield. A book that could have been terribly obscure is made more accessible, not to mention suspenseful. The cynicism won't appeal to all. There are a few early scenes which come off as uncomfortably racist & sexist by today's standards. But readers who appreciate a dark, satirical edge to their fiction—stories that neither let you off the hook easily nor spell everything out—will find this bitterly ironic yet truthful tale a winner.--T. M. Wagner (edited)
SANCTUARY IN THE SKY: A cold war among the stars was growing hotter by the minute. As Pag and Cathrodyne struggled for domination, a hot war threatened which would rend and annihilate whole planetary systems. The two master races would have consumed one another long ago, but for one single factor: Waystation. It was a stupendous synthetic world, famed throughout the galaxy. For Waystation was controlled by a neutral people, and until the greater powers could seize this strategic wonder planet and ferret out its secrets, they were doomed to fretful inactivity. But as a Cathrodyne vessel drew near to Waystation, the all-important balance of power stood in sudden peril. The ship in itself was routine. But on board was a stranger, a man of undiscovered race, who spoke too little, and , it appeared, knew too much . . . THE
SECRET MARTIANS: Jery Delvin had a most unusual talent. He could detect flaws in any scheme almost on sight -- even where they had eluded the best brains in the ad agency where he worked. So when the Chief of World Security told him that he had been selected as the answer to the Solar System's greatest mystery, Jery assumed that it was because of his mental agility. But when he got to Mars to find out why fifteen boys had vanished from a spaceship in mid-space, he found out that even his quick mind needed time to pierce the maze of out-of-this-world double-dealing. For Jery had become a walking bomb, and when he set himself off, it would be the end of the whole puzzle of THE SECRET MARTIANS -- with Jery as the first to go!
Colonising a new planet requires much more than just settling on a newly discovered island of Old Earth. New planets were different in thousands of ways, different from Earth and from each other. Any of those differences could mean death and disaster to a human settlement. When a ship filled with refugees from a cosmic catastrophe crash-landed on such an unmapped world, their outlook was precarious. Their ship was lost, salvage had been minor, and everything came to depend on one bright young man accidentally among them. He was a trainee planet-builder. It would have been his job to foresee all the problems necessary to set up a safe home for humanity. But the problem was that he was a mere student - and he had been studying the wrong planet. (First published 1974)
Europe in the 21st Century is a stricken continent. Cities crumble with neglect. Governments topple to military coups. But one man may have the answer. It is a viral drug that drastically alters the human mind, a cure for depression, unemployment, war, madness, national hatreds, prejudice, crime & mass hysteria, but there were those who wanted the cure suppressed until the world collapsed.
"Built in the heart of the jungle, The City was an architect's masterpiece--& the scene of a flesh-&-blood game of chess where the unwitting pawns were real people!"
The Squares of the City is a science fiction novel written by John Brunner and first published in 1965 (ISBN 0-345-27739-2). It was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1966.
It is a sociological story of urban class warfare and political intrigue, taking place in the fictional South American capital city of Vados. It explores the idea of subliminal messages as political tools, and it is notable for having the structure of the famous 1892 chess game between Wilhelm Steinitz and Mikhail Chigorin. The structure is not coincidental, and plays an important part in the story.
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-Hunt, 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 would be no King-Hunt in Carrig, or hope for the planet-unless a fool-hardy high-born named Saikmar and a beautiful Earthling space-spy named Maddalena, could do the impossible . . . (First published 1969)
It was carnival time on Earth. Prosperity was at its peak; science had triumphed over environment; all human needs were taken care of by computers, robots and androids. There was nothing left for humans to do but enjoy, themselves . . . to seek pleasure where they found it, without inhibitions and without thinking of the price.
Then an android died - in a senseless, brutal murder. And young Derry Horn was shocked out of his boredom and alienation. His life of flabby ease had not prepared him for a fantastically dangerous mission to outlying, primitive stars - but now, at last, he had a reason for living. And even when he found himself a prisoner of ruthless slavers, even when he learned the shocking truth about what the androids really were and where they came from . . . even when he saw all the laws of the orderly, civilised universe he knew turned upside-down and inside-out . . . he fought on.
For that universe had to be shattered and reborn - even if Derry Horn and the Earth he had irrevocably left behind died in the process!
(First published 1968)