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immediate thoughts on the ephemeral environment I've been reading books since the early 70s and writing about them since the 80s.

Stand on Zanzibar

Stand on Zanzibar - John Brunner I first read this book as a teenager, and liked it so much that I listed it as a top ten favorite novel for decades afterward. In honor of actually having the opportunity to stand on Zanzibar myself during a recent vacation, I thought I would re-read it to see how well it held up. Thankfully, it does, although if I ranked all the books in my top ten, it would be a little further down the list these days.

When I read it long ago, I remembered it being much more disjointed. It is in parts, but I was able to connect the disparate pieces in my mind better, perhaps due to a familiarity with the prose and concept, even after these many years. I also hadn't remembered one of the lead characters being a Muslim, and likely glossed over that as a youngster, having never encountered a follower of Islam at that time.

[a:Bruce Sterling|34429|Bruce Sterling|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1379306689p2/34429.jpg]'s well-done introduction to the edition I read this time highlights some of Brunner's prescience, but what I found interesting was the near misses in Brunner extrapolation, specifically the entire concept that at some point in the future, people who have too many children will be ostracized by society for their lack of self-control and selfishness. Even at this point, after the world has doubled its population (from approximately 3.5bn when this novel was written to around 7bn today), I don't see any indication of this change in opinion--sadly, many cultures are the exact opposite, believing that they need to increase their population for fear that their culture will be overrun by others. Perhaps this is the real lesson of [b:Stand on Zanzibar|41069|Stand on Zanzibar|John Brunner|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1360613921s/41069.jpg|2184253], that people (read large, as in the earth's population) will never be able to control their reproduction and the game of life will eventually collapse through disease, war, or famine.

Recommended? Yes, I would still highly recommend this book. It was a grand achievement when it was published, and it remains a solid work of art today.