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Reviews by Contributor: Brunner, John (28)

A Twinkle In His Eye

Players at the Game of People

By John Brunner  

30 Apr, 2024

Shockwave Reader

5 comments

John Brunner’s 1980 Players at the Game of People is a stand-alone science fiction/horror novel.

Godwin Harpinshield is blessed to enjoy a life that is exactly what he wants. He has a fancy car, portals leading to idyllic beaches, opportunities for heroism, and the ability to muddle the minds of authority figures who ask too many questions.

Godwin accepts that there is a price for all of this. He does not fully appreciate what that price is.

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Every Move He Makes

Honky in the Woodpile  (Max Curfew, volume 3)

By John Brunner  

26 Mar, 2024

Shockwave Reader

12 comments

1971’s Honky in the Woodpile is the third and final book in John Brunner’s Max Curfew thriller series.

Dr. Aloysius Small, on track to become the first non-white Member of Parliament since Saklatvala, is shot and killed by a sniper firing from the South African embassy. Protests are immediate. So are attacks on protestors from Britain’s thriving racist community. Unable to detain the killer, the British police turn to a show of force. They immediately begin brutalizing protestors, particularly those of sub-Saharan ancestry.

Retired international man of mystery Max Curfew intervenes to save two black men from a skinhead attack. This earns Jamaican-born Max and his new friends a brief stay in a British jail. Max emerges from the experience battered but alive, and with a new mission.

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Riddle Me This

Total Eclipse

By John Brunner  

27 Feb, 2024

Shockwave Reader

7 comments

John Brunner’s 1974 Total Eclipse is a stand-alone hard-SF puzzle story.

After the disappointments at Proxima, Epsilon Eridani, and Tau Ceti, humans might have abandoned interstellar flight altogether. The 2020 discovery of alien ruins on the moon of a life-bearing planet orbiting Sigma Draconis saved the dream of interstellar exploration…

At least for a while. The 2028 expedition may be the final expedition.

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Just Remember Darling

Web of Everywhere

By John Brunner  

30 Jan, 2024

Shockwave Reader

17 comments

John Brunner’s 1974 Web of Everywhere is a stand-alone science fiction novel.

Skelters supplied humanity with inexpensive global teleportation1. Island paradises were but a step from vast cities. Likewise novel plagues, irate terrorists, and savage bandits were but numbers on a keypad away from vulnerable populations. Faced with a rising tide of chaos, governments lashed out with nuclear weapons. Two thirds of the human race perished.

Decades later, two men visit an outpost of the long-dead world before the Blowup.


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Sun-Shiny Day

The Stone That Never Came Down

By John Brunner  

26 Dec, 2023

Shockwave Reader

2 comments

John Brunner’s 1973 The Stone That Never Came Down is a stand-alone near-future1 science fiction novel.

The future looks like the 1970s dialed to eleven. Society’s leaders being the self-serving liars that they are, every social issue (minority unrest, inflation, decaying cities, rampaging Christians, energy shortages, and the Irish) has been allowed to spiral out of control.

Disgraced teacher Malcolm Fry has more immediate problems. Targeted by deranged Christians, he has lost his job, his wife, his car, and his children2. While this did leave him free to hook up with Ruth, this just makes the unmarried couple the sort of people the Godheads hate and persecute.

A depressed Malcolm goes to a pub and gets hammered. While not in his right mind, he takes a drug from a stranger. The drug is called VC, Was this a tragic error or the best thing ever to happen to Malcolm?


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Bomb Bomb Bomb

The Wrong End of Time

By John Brunner  

28 Nov, 2023

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John Brunner’s 1971 The Wrong End of Time is a stand-alone near-future science fiction story.

Affronted by several ungracious rejections of helpful US intervention, offended Americans have retreated back to North America. For the last thirty years, the US has sullenly remained behind what it firmly believes to be impenetrable defenses, reveling in capitalist decadence while doing its best to ignore the existence of the outside world1.

Now the outside world comes calling, in the form of Vassily Sheklov.

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Play The Wild Mutation

More Things in Heaven

By John Brunner  

31 Oct, 2023

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1973’s More Things in Heaven is an expanded version of John Brunner’s The Astronauts Must Not Land.

David Drummond is astonished to see his brother Leon on the Calle Gagarin in Quito. Leon is on board humanity’s first faster-than-light starship, Starventure. As far as David knows, Starventure has not returned from Alpha Centauri. How then can Leon be in Quito?

As it happens, Starventure is back in the Solar System, orbiting near Jupiter. What follows raises more questions rather than answering them.


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Our Separate Ways

Bedlam Planet

By John Brunner  

26 Sep, 2023

Shockwave Reader

4 comments

John Brunner’s 1968 Bedlam Planet is a stand-alone science fiction novel.

Most of the nearby solar systems visited by humanity’s first faster-than-light probes contained only dead worlds. Sigma Draconis was the notable exception. Asgard is in many ways Earth’s twin, a world on which humans can survive unprotected. Or so the initial scouting mission suggested. The colonists planned to test Asgard’s habitability for themselves, assisted by two of the original scouts, Pyotr Tang-Lin and Dennis Malone. Starflight being fearfully expensive, the settlers will be left to succeed or fail without help from Earth1.

The settlement begins badly, with a tragic mishap.

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Future’s Here Today

Age of Miracles

By John Brunner  

29 Aug, 2023

Shockwave Reader

6 comments

1973’s Age of Miracles is an expanded and revised edition of John Brunner’s 1965 The Day of the Star Cities.

First contact with a vastly superior alien civilization came in the form of catastrophe: every lump of fissionable material larger than two or three kilograms on the surface of the Earth abruptly blew up. Chaos and mass death followed. By the time surviving governments were able to take stock, vast, enigmatic, alien structures had planted themselves in the American Midwest, in western Brazil, near the Russian Urals, on Australia’s Nullabor Plain, and in Antarctica. Armies dispatched to drive off the invaders went mad. In the end, humanity had to accept that new owners now dominated Earth.

Near the alien city in the American Midwest, a madman staggers away from the city. He had clearly ventured too close. He dies and is then identified as government employee Correy Bennett. The only problem with this is that the original Correy Bennett is still very much alive.

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Strange Eventful History

The Productions of Time

By John Brunner  

25 Jul, 2023

Shockwave Reader

5 comments

John Brunner’s 1967 The Productions of Time is a stand-alone contemporary science fiction novel.

A broken marriage and alcoholism destroyed Murray Douglas’ once-promising acting career. With great effort, Murray dried out. Now he is ready for a comeback. But few companies seem interested in hiring a prematurely aged former wunderkind.

Enter famed avant-garde director Delgado. Murray Douglas suits Delgado’s purposes very nicely. If Douglas accepts, the pay will be very welcome indeed. There is one small catch. Delgado’s productions are infamously cursed, leaving a trail of dead and deranged actors in Delgado’s wake. Only a very desperate actor would say yes to Delgado.

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