Notes Reading Notes

Stand on Zanzibar

By John Brunner, 1968

An extraordinarily book that collides literary experimentation with pulp sci-fi and social commentary. Basically Marshall McGluhan’s ideas put into novel form for perhaps the first time. Maximalist. Hilarious, frightening and hasn’t dated as badly as a lot of other stuff from that time.

Notes on structure:

  • Continuity: fairly standard free indirect chapters, that tell a continuous story with consistent characters.
  • Context: snippets of essays, reviews and articles explaining the state of the world by a mad sociologist called Chad C. Mulligan (fulfils the tweed jacket wearing intellectual asshole character trope that appears in a lot of sci-fi from this time period)
  • The Happening World: fragments of conversations, vox-pops, advertisements, pamphlets and various other shards of media that give an insight into the way people think and act in this world.
  • Tracking With Closeups: Vignettes which explore discontinuous scenes from the world and propel the story forward.

Continuity: The Revised Version

He was not co-operating in what was done to him, so much as passively accepting it as a possible cure for the impending death of his old self.

Page 294.