Review: John Brunner by Jad Smith

John Brunner

Jad Smith
University of Illinois Press
      University of Illinois Press

Pub Date                Jan 30 2013

ISBN         9780252078811
Under his own name and numerous pseudonyms, John Brunner (1934–1995) was one of the most prolific and influential science fiction authors of the late twentieth century. During his exemplary career, the British author wrote with a stamina matched by only a few other great science fiction writers and with a literary quality of even fewer, importing modernist techniques into his novels and stories and probing every major theme of his generation: robotics, racism, drugs, space exploration, technological warfare, and ecology.
In this first intensive review of Brunner’s life and works, Jad Smith carefully demonstrates how Brunner’s much-neglected early fiction laid the foundation for his classic Stand on Zanzibar and other major works such as The Jagged Orbit, The Sheep Look Up, and The Shockwave Rider. Making extensive use of Brunner’s letters, columns, speeches, and interviews published in fanzines, Smith approaches Brunner in the context of markets and trends that affected many writers of the time, including Brunner’s uneasy association with the “New Wave” of science fiction in the 1960s and ’70s. This landmark study shows how Brunner’s attempts to cross-fertilize the American pulp tradition with British scientific romance complicated the distinctions between genre and mainstream fiction and between hard and soft science fiction and helped carve out space for emerging modes such as cyberpunk, slipstream, and biopunk.
My Review:
This is a fscinating insight to the man and the author that is John Brunner.  He proved to be a difficult writer to categorise throughtout his career and this book delves into the why behind that.  It is well written and very detailed, but I never felt lost in that detail as it carried me along very well.
I enjoy biographies of people that I have come across and found interesting.  Mr Brunner was one of those – a great science fiction author that never seemed to be considered one of the upper echelon of those other great science fiction luminaries.  This book goes a long way to explain that.  In fact, it shows how Brunner set the style for many sub genres of science fiction which would follow.  The writing is well-balance and well structured and uses plenty of source material.
If you have any interest in science fiction and have read John Brunner, then I see this as an essential read.
My Rating:
5 out of 5

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