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Memory says that I first read it when I was 15, and if that’s true it was almost certainly from the library. It was published in 1968, and I knew about it – I had been reading science fiction seriously since at least 1970. Memory also says I tried and failed to get into it at least once or twice before on the third try I was immediately hooked, read it through to the end, and immediately turned back to the beginning and read it through again. Memory may lie, though, and I don’t have diaries from those years.
            I kept reading diaries for 1975 and 1976. They say definitively that I bought it on Wednesday 5th and read it on Thursday 6th November 1975, a few days before my 18th birthday, and a few days after reading The Jagged Orbit. I rated it as worth reading again. Then I read it again on Tuesday 27th April 1976, and yet again on Thursday 30th September 1976.
            Memory says I read it at least once more in London between 1982 and 1997, but I can find no electronic record.

Fairly or otherwise, at the time or later, I have credited this book with opening up the world for me.
            John Brunner built his Earth of 2010, when the whole human race could stand on the island of Zanzibar, in more detail than any world I had met before. The book took me to more places on Earth to talk about more different things than any single book I had read before. It had computers, politics, sex, parties, genetics, sociology, business, women, children, books, newspapers, television, drugs, people who were not American, and Americans who were not white men. It had them in a world that I would live to see. And it presented them all in a frame and style that was, I think, quite unlike anything else I had ever read. For a 15 or 18 year old girl growing up in Belfast it was mind-blowing.
            I remember: Mr and Mrs Everywhere; Tracking with Closeups; extracts from books by Chad Mulligan (including You! Ape! (is that the right punctiuation?); the solipsistic supercomputer Shalmaneser, musing with supercooled circuits: “Christ, what an imagination I’ve got”, and the children singing: “Shalmaneser, pizzle teaser, had a wife and couldn’t please her. Go and tell the big computer Mary’s lover doesn’t suit her”; Nippicaps; “graph the party”; the old lady (Grace?) who died in New York amid piles of old newspapers.
            I don’t remember the plot. I remember that it ended, if not happily, at least on a note of hope.

And now I’m rereading it.


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
24th Feb, 2009 08:49 (UTC)
Unrelated comment: Could you remind Brian about the turkey readings at Picocon? I tried to email him but it hasn't got through for some reason. Thanks!
24th Feb, 2009 10:40 (UTC)
Brian says the turkey reading is fine, but please could you forward bounced email to me so that we can look at why it's not getting through. Thanks.
24th Feb, 2009 10:56 (UTC)
24th Feb, 2009 17:37 (UTC)
I'm currently in the middle of reading it (a copy that Brian sold to me no less :) ).

I'm about half way through, and there's not been a huge amount of plot, compared to world description. I'd post more bu have to go now, and am afraid I'll forget to respond. Look out for my Reading List post when I've finished it.
25th Feb, 2009 04:59 (UTC)
As I don't have the copy to hand (it's 6,000 miles away and I won't be there for another month), I wonder if you could do me a quick favour. Somewhere in the book, roughly half way, someone is subjected to "Eptification"... it's a speed-learning technique, with the acronym EPT. What does EPT stand for? And what page/chapter of the book is it in? My copy's the SF Masterworks edition.

This has been bugging me for years. Thanks in anticipation...
3rd Mar, 2009 21:17 (UTC)
Haven't forgotten this - just that life has intervened somewhat this week and now I'm in Marsport without Hilda...er...stop...reset...Somerset without Stand on Zanzibar.

I'll get back to you.
22nd Mar, 2009 18:17 (UTC)
Sorry to have taken a while to answer this, but the answer is 'education for particular tasks' and it's in Continuity 14 – The Right Man for the Job, as something about to be done to Donald Hogan. Page 212 in my Easton Press hardback which runs to 507 pages overall.
23rd Mar, 2009 17:02 (UTC)
Thanks so much Caroline, that's really helpful!
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )


Caroline M

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