John Brunner (novelist)

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John Brunner
John Brunner, c. 1967
Born John Kilian Houston Brunner
(1934-09-24)24 September 1934
Wallingford, Oxfordshire, U.K.
Died Script error: The function "death_date_and_age" does not exist.
Glasgow, Scotland
Occupation Novelist
Nationality British
Period 1951–1995
Genre Science fiction, fantasy
Notable works Stand on Zanzibar
The Shockwave Rider
The Sheep Look Up
The Jagged Orbit

John Kilian Houston Brunner (24 September 1934 – 26 August 1995) was a British author of science fiction novels and stories. His 1968 novel Stand on Zanzibar, about an overpopulated world, won the 1969 Hugo Award for best science fiction novel, and the BSFA award the same year. The Jagged Orbit won the BSFA award in 1970.


Brunner was born in Preston Crowmarsh, near Wallingford in Oxfordshire, and went to school at St Andrew's Prep School, Pangbourne, then to Cheltenham College. He wrote his first novel, Galactic Storm, at 17, and published it under the pen-name Gill Hunt, but he did not start writing full-time until 1958.[1] He served as an officer in the Royal Air Force from 1953 to 1955, and married Marjorie Rosamond Sauer on 12 July 1958.

Brunner had an uneasy relationship with British new wave writers, who often considered him too American in his settings and themes. He attempted to shift to a more mainstream readership in the early 1980s, without success. Before his death, most of his books had fallen out of print. Brunner accused publishers of a conspiracy against him, although he was difficult to deal with (his wife had handled his publishing relations before she died).[2]

Brunner's health began to decline in the 1980s and worsened with the death of his wife in 1986. He remarried, to Li Yi Tan, on 27 September 1991. He died of a heart attack in Glasgow on 25 August 1995, while attending the World Science Fiction Convention there.[3]

Literary works

At first writing conventional space opera, Brunner later began to experiment with the novel form. His 1968 novel Stand on Zanzibar exploits the fragmented organizational style John Dos Passos invented for his USA trilogy, but updates it in terms of the theory of media popularised by Marshall McLuhan.

The Jagged Orbit (1969) is set in a United States dominated by weapons proliferation and interracial violence, and has 100 numbered chapters varying in length from a single syllable to several pages in length. The Sheep Look Up (1972) depicts ecological catastrophe in America. Brunner is credited with coining the term "worm" and predicting the emergence of computer viruses[3] in his 1975 novel The Shockwave Rider, in which he used the term to describe software which reproduces itself across a computer network. Together with Stand on Zanzibar, these novels have been called the "Club of Rome Quartet", named after the Club of Rome whose 1972 report The Limits to Growth warned of the dire effects of overpopulation.[4]

Brunner's pen names include K. H. Brunner, Gill Hunt, John Loxmith, Trevor Staines, Ellis Quick, Henry Crosstrees Jr., and Keith Woodcott.[1]

In addition to his fiction, Brunner wrote poetry and many unpaid articles in a variety of publications, particularly fanzines, but also 13 letters to the New Scientist and an article about the educational relevance of science fiction in Physics Education.[5] Brunner was an active member of the organisation Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and wrote the words to "The H-Bomb's Thunder", which was sung on the Aldermaston Marches. He was a linguist, translator,[further explanation needed] and Guest of Honour at the first European Science Fiction Convention Eurocon-1 in Trieste in 1972.[1]

Film and TV

John Brunner wrote the screenplay for the 1967 science fiction film The Terrornauts by Amicus Productions.

Two of his short stories, "Some Lapse of Time" and "The Last Lonely Man", were adapted as TV plays in the BBC science fiction series Out of the Unknown, in series 1 (1965) and series 3 (1969) respectively.


File:Two complete science adventure books 1953sum n9.jpg
Brunner's short novel "The Wanton of Argus" was originally published in Two Complete Science-Adventure Books in 1953, before appearing in book form as The Space-Time Juggler
File:Fantastic universe 195803.jpg
Brunner's novelette "Rendezvous With Destiny" was cover-featured on the March 1958 issue of Fantastic Universe

Science-fiction and fantasy novels


Max Curfew Series[6]






  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Tuck, Donald H. (1974). The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Chicago: Advent. pp. 70–72. ISBN 0-911682-20-1.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Obituary of John Brunner". Daily Telegraph. 25 September 1995. p. 23.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Bisson, Simon (13 July 2012). "Science fiction: Why it's a must read for IT pros". ZDnet. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 29 March 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Physics Education (1971) volume 6 pages 389–391 "The educational relevance of science fiction" by John Brunner
  6. Spy Guys and Gals, Max Curfew
  7. 7.0 7.1 Thomas D. Clareson, ed. (1978), Voices for the Future: Essays on Major Science Fiction Writers, Volume 2, Popular Press
  8. Black Gate, The Great Steamboat Race
  9. "The John Brunner Archive". University of Liverpool Library, Special Collections and Archives. Retrieved 24 January 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Лаборатория Фантастики". Fantlab. Retrieved 24 January 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links