Source: The Daily Telegraph, London
Publication Date: September 25, 1995
Region: United Kingdom
Obituary of John Brunner
John Brunner, the British science fiction writer who
has died aged 60, foresaw the emergence of computer viruses many years
before they appeared. As well as writing more than 80 novels and
collections of short stories Brunner was a noted critic of bogus science,
and lambasted the writings of such authors as Erich von Daniken, T Lobsang
Rampa, and L Ron Hubbard.
In a paper at the Institute of
Contemporary Arts in 1975 he declared that "the real universe has a
marvellous and unique quality, in as much as it, and only it, can take us
completely by surprise". He contrasted this with the predictable rantings
of those who peddled notions of little green men in flying saucers.
Brunner had Left-wing views on
national defence, and worked with the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. In
1957 he joined the National Council for the Abolition of Nuclear Tests.
With his first wife, Marjorie, and Bertrand Russell's former wife Dora
Black, he travelled widely promoting CND. Brunner wrote the CND's marching
song, which began: "Don't you hear the H-bomb's thunder/ Echo like the
crack of doom?"
This anti-technological attitude contrasted with the
spirit of his novels, many of which concerned starships that might not
have gone far without H-bombs to propel them. One of the best-known of
these was Brunner's Interstellar Empire series, published in the 1970s,
about the predicament of mankind during the twilight of a galactic empire.
Another series in the same vein, the Zarathustra Refugee
Planets, concerned 3,000 giant spaceships which evacuate a planet
threatened when its sun goes nova and becomes violently unstable. Seven
centuries later interstellar police are still searching the galaxy for
these scattered ships whose inhabitants are believed to have gone
The Squares of the City (1965) was
a study in mathematical psychology in which two ruthless politicians
manipulate people in a real-life chess match. Brunner's more pessimistic
stories included The Sheep Look Up (1972), a depressing look forward to
the horrors of pollution; and The Shockwave Rider (1975), in which
computers spread viruses and other evils. In this he was to prove wrong
those experts who at the time dismissed the possibility of electronic
Brunner received the Hugo award,
the British Science Fiction award and the French Prix Apollo.
John Killian Houston Brunner was
born at Preston Crowmarsh, Oxfordshire, in 1934 and educated at
Cheltenham. He wrote his first novel at the age of 17 under the pseudonym
Gill Hunt. His writings tended to be intellectual rather than popular, and
even at the peak of his career he sometimes found it difficult to get his
books published. This was not helped by his acrimonious disputes with
He was twice married.
Source: Sun-Sentinel, Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Publication Date: September 05, 1995
J. BRUNNER, 60, AUTHOR OF STAND ON ZANZIBAR
John Brunner, the science fiction author who turned his
attention to contemporary social issues in novels like Stand on Zanzibar,
is dead at 60. Mr. Brunner died Aug. 25 of a heart attack while attending
a science-fiction convention in Glasgow, Scotland.
A prolific writer, Mr. Brunner attracted attention outside his native
England for his experimentation with story form and in 1969 drew great
attention to his writing with a fragmented narrative that treated the
potential nightmare of overpopulation in Stand on Zanzibar.
Other novels included The Squares of the City, a 1969 novel about the
dehumanizing effect of computers, based on an actual chess game played in
1892; and, The Days of March, drawn from his experiences as an