Stand on Zanzibar

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The Best of The Millions: 2017

As the year winds down, it's a great opportunity for readers to catch up on some of the most-read pieces from The Millions during the year. We’ll divide the most popular posts on The Millions into two categories, beginning with the 20 most popular pieces published on the site in 2017. 1. Our pair of Most Anticipated posts were popular among readers looking for something new to read. We now do monthly fiction and poetry previews as well. Our 2017 book preview is coming soon. 2. Dragons Are for White Kids with Money: On the Friction of Geekdom and Race: Daniel Jose Ruiz wrote "You’d think that when I found geekdom, I’d be welcomed in with open arms, but my ethnic identifiers have often caused friction." His exploration spurred a great deal of conversation on and off the site. 3. A Bookseller's Elegy: In a politically charged year, Douglas Koziol wrote about his struggle to sell books that go against what he believes. 4. Against Readability: Ben Roth wondered, why are books so frequently bestowed with the faintest of praise? "Given the tenor of our times, it is perhaps readable books that we need least." 5. I feel a project coming on: Our own Hannah Gersen gave us ten (10!) ways to organize our bookshelves. I'm trying to move beyond "in piles, all over the place." 6. Staring into the Soundless Dark: On the Trouble Lurking in Poets’ Bedrooms: Andrew Kay writes "Whatever the nature of their sleep hang-ups, their poems have furnished these writers with spaces in which to record their nocturnal trials." 7. Only partway done as I compile this list, our star-studded Year in Reading has been a big hit across the internet. 8. At the Firing Squad: The Radical Works of a Young Dostoevsky: "At 28, Fyodor Dostoevsky was about to die," begins Matthew James Seidel's riveting account of Dostoevsky's emergence as a great writer. 9. Have you found yourself dabbling in "crossover" lit. Do you ever peek your eyes over top that collection of short stories and spy lustily at your neighbor's sci-fi? Ian Simpson provided the genre-curious with a guide to breaking out of the literary rut. 10. The book vs. ebook debate is surely long over, no? They will co-exist forever. James McWilliams is therefore free to rhapsodize about being comforted, ensconced and tempted by (physical) books. 11. This was a treat: Catherine Baab-Muguira investigated how much Edgar Allan Poe earned from his writing. Was his haul commensurate with his contributions to the canon? Also note: "You never enter the same Poe whirlpool twice." 12. We were thrilled to exclusively announce the Best Translated Book Awards this year. The longlists piqued many readers' interest. 13. Everyone loves a good deep dive into smart TV. See: Gilmore Girls: The End of Good Faith by Kevin Frazier. 14. "The Education of Henry Adams is an extraordinary book, maddening, alternately fascinating and tedious, just as often mordantly and unexpectedly funny, one that seems both ragingly pertinent to and impossibly distant from our own time." - Michael Lindgren on Henry Adams. 15. The economics of the literary world can be frustrating and opaque. M.R. Branwen cleared up some lingering questions, including the biggest of all: "Why Literary Journals Don’t Pay." 16. Brevity Is the Soul of It: In Praise of Short Books by Kyle Chayka: What it says on the tin. 17. The Afterlife of F. Scott Fitzgerald: Joe Gioia delivers a fascinating theory of Fitzgerald's posthumous rise to fame, which may have been orchestrated by the author himself. 18. Our most popular interview of the year: Steve Paulson sat down with Teju Cole. 19. Our readers were excited to learn that Colson Whitehead's The Underground Railroad had taken home the Pulitzer Prize. 20. Our own Nick Ripatrazone proposed a rule: "Don’t Talk About Your Book Until It’s Published." Next we'll look at a number of older pieces that Millions readers return to again and again. This list of top “evergreens” comprises pieces that went up before 2017 but continued to find new readers. 1. Dickens’s Best Novel? Six Experts Share Their Opinions: Our own Kevin Hartnett polled the experts to discover the best on offer from the prolific 19th century master. 2. Tolstoy or Dostoevsky? 8 Experts on Who’s Greater: Readers also returned to Kevin Hartnett's Russian lit throwdown, for which he asked eight scholars and avid lay readers to present their cases for Tolstoy or Dostoevsky as the king of Russian literature. 3. How To Introduce an Author: We've all seen them -- awkward, long-winded, irrelevant. Bad author introductions mar readings every day across the land. For five years now, would be emcees have been turning to Janet Potter's guide on how to not screw up the reading before it even starts. 4. Shakespeare’s Greatest Play? 5 Experts Share Their Opinions: Yet another of Hartnett's roundtables asked five experts to name the greatest of Shakespeare's plays. 5. Readers of Laurent Binet's HHhH have been turning up to read the story of the section he excised from the novel as well as the missing pages themselves, which we published exclusively. 6. Our own Nick Ripatrazone wrote, "Lent is the most literary season of the liturgical year. The Lenten narrative is marked by violence, suffering, anticipation, and finally, joy. Here is a literary reader for Lent: 40 stories, poems, essays, and books for the 40 days of this season." Many readers followed along and we republished it in 2017; bookmark this for 2018. 7. Pansexual Free-for-All: My Time As A Writer of Kindle Erotica: It's a brave new world for writers on the make. Matthew Morgan tried his hand at the weird, wild world of self-published erotica and in the process introduced us to "shape-shifter sex creatures that could be anything from dolphins to bears to whales" and other oddities. 8. The Weird 1969 New Wave Sci-Fi Novel that Correctly Predicted the Current Day: Ted Gioia profiled John Brunner's uncanny novel Stand on Zanzibar, which included, way back in 1969, a President Obomi and visionary ideas like satellite TV and the mainstreaming of the gay community. 9. Way back in 2010, our own Edan Lepucki counted the ways in which Jane Eyre's Mr. Rochester is a creep. There are seven ways, and they remain compelling. 10. The World's Longest Novel: Ben Dooley's long-ago profile of this work of record-breaking performance art continues to fascinate.

In the Dark (of Space)

Originally, the film 2001: A Space Odyssey included more narration by co-writer Arthur C. Clarke, whose short story "The Sentinel" was the basis for Stanley Kubrick's script. At the last minute, Kubrick decided to cut them out, which led to Clarke leaving the US premiere halfway through. In a piece for The New Statesman an old friend of Clarke's explores his side of the story. You could also read Ted Gioia on a weirdly predictive '60s sci-fi novel.

The Best of The Millions: 2015

As the year winds down, it's a great opportunity for readers to catch up on some of the most notable pieces from The Millions during the year. To start, we’ll divide the most popular posts on The Millions into two categories, beginning with the 20 most popular pieces published on the site in 2015: 1. Our pair of Most Anticipated posts were popular among readers looking for something new to read. Our 2016 book preview is coming soon. 2. Our star-studded Year in Reading was a big hit across the internet. 3. Our own Nick Ripatrazone wrote, "Lent is the most literary season of the liturgical year. The Lenten narrative is marked by violence, suffering, anticipation, and finally, joy. Here is a literary reader for Lent: 40 stories, poems, essays, and books for the 40 days of this season." Many readers followed along; bookmark this for 2016. 4. It's hard enough to write a book, but then they expect you to come up with a title. Our own Janet Potter came up with a sure-fire, never-fail strategy to title your next masterpiece and the one after that too. 5. Pansexual Free-for-All: My Time As A Writer of Kindle Erotica: It's a brave new world for writers on the make. Matthew Morgan tried his hand in the weird, wild world of self-published erotica and in the process introduced us to "shape-shifter sex creatures that could be anything from dolphins to bears to whales" and other oddities. 6. The Art of the Chapter: Jonathan Russell Clark authored a series of essays for us exploring each element that makes up a book from the epigraph to the final sentence. His piece on chapters dove deep into the choices authors make in how they divide up their books. 7. Scenes From Our Unproduced Screenplay: ‘Strunk & White: Grammar Police’: "It’s 'whom,' motherfucker." Juliana Gray and Erica Dawson penned a screenplay for grammar lovers. 8. Get to Work: On the Best Advice Writers Ever Received: An illuminating round-up from Sarah Anne Johnson. "I recently spoke with a range of authors who shared the best piece of writing advice they ever received. Some answers were brief and memorizable, some were longer and drew me into the author’s world and creative process." 9. The Audacity of Prose: Booker Prize shortlister Chigozie Obioma penned a forceful and convincing defense of the idea that when it comes to writing, "more is more." 10. To Fall in Love with a Reader, Do This: From our own Hannah Gersen, "Several months ago, The New York Times published an essay about a 36-question interview devised to make strangers fall in love. The questions presented here are designed with a more modest goal: to have an interesting conversation about books." 11. The Writer I Was: Six Authors Look Back on Their First Novels: Meredith Turits invited six authors to look back on their first novels, and they gave us a delightful mixture of nostalgia, awe and confusion. 12. How Will I Live? Fame, Money, Day Jobs, and Fiction Writing.: Gina Fattore wondered if the wrong "day job" can erase the career of a would-be successful novelist before it even starts. 13. It’s Not You, It’s Us: Apartment Hunting in Brooklyn: In maybe the funniest piece we ran all year, David Staller tries to find an affordable apartment in Brooklyn without getting murdered, or worse. 14. The Admiral in the Library: The Millions Interviews James Stavridis: The Millions ran dozens of interviews with leading literary lights in 2015. Who would have guessed that our most popular sit-down was to be with a remarkably well read and introspective retired admiral. Marcia DeSanctis was our intrepid interviewer for this fascinating conversation. 15. Father’s Day Books for Dads Who Actually Read: Our own Michael Bourne guides you past the neckties to find the book that will delight your literary pop. 16. Dispatches From the Content Factory: On the Rise and Fall of the New Creative Class: All those tech unicorns need writers - sometimes a lot of them. Irene Keliher gave us a chilling firsthand account of the tech economy's creative underclass. 17. The Joy of Crewnecks: Marie Kondo’s ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up’: Marie Kondo's call to clear out your closets became something of a cultural phenomenon this year. Janet Potter clued us in early. 18. The Millions 2015 Gift Guide for Readers, Writers and the People Who Love Them: I bet you had no idea that a squirrel in underpants is the perfect gift for the literary critic in your life. 19: Judging Books by Their Covers 2015: US Vs. Netherlands: Our own Claire Cameron pointed out some very cool book covers happening in the Netherlands. 20: A Future for Books Online: Tumblr’s Reblog Book Club: Our own Elizabeth Minkel introduced us to a vibrant community of readers congregating on tumblr. There are also a number of older pieces that Millions readers return to again and again. This list of top “evergreens” comprises pieces that went up before 2015 but continued to find new readers. 1. The Starting Six: On the Remarkable Glory Days of Iowa Girls Basketball: Lawrence Tabak's piece on the basketball variant that was once an Iowa obsession. 2. Read Me! Please!: Book Titles Rewritten to Get More Clicks: Ah clickbait, those snippets of twisted English pumped full of hyperbole and lacking in specificity, a concoction designed to wring maximum clicks from readers. Our own Janet Potter and Nick Moran pondered how some literary classics might have employed this same strategy. The results are hilarious... and terrifying. 3. Dickens’s Best Novel? Six Experts Share Their Opinions: Our own Kevin Hartnett polled the experts to discover the best on offer from the prolific 19th century master. 4. The Weird 1969 New Wave Sci-Fi Novel that Correctly Predicted the Current Day: Ted Gioia profiled John Brunner's uncanny novel Stand on Zanzibar, which included, way back in 1969, a President Obomi and visionary ideas like satellite TV and the mainstreaming of gay lifestyles. 5. Tolstoy or Dostoevsky? 8 Experts on Who’s Greater: Readers also returned to Kevin Hartnett's Russian lit throwdown, for which he asked eight scholars and avid lay readers to present their cases for Tolstoy or Dostoevsky as the king of Russian literature. 6. Shakespeare’s Greatest Play? 5 Experts Share Their Opinions: Yet another of Hartnett's roundtables asked five experts to name the greatest of Shakespeare's plays. 7. 55 Thoughts for English Teachers: "All of a sudden, I have been teaching public school English for a decade." Our own Nick Ripatrazone with some powerful reflections on teaching high school English. 8. We Cast The Goldfinch Movie so Hollywood Doesn’t Have To: Word of a film adaptation gave us all the excuse we needed to keep talking about Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch. Our own Janet Potter and Edan Lepucki saved everyone a lot of trouble and went ahead and put together a cast for the movie. 9. A Year in Reading 2014: 2014’s series stayed popular in 2015. 10. How To Introduce an Author: We've all seen them - awkward, long-winded, irrelevant - bad author introductions mar readings every day in this great country of ours. For three years now, would be emcees have been turning to Janet Potter's guide on how to not screw up the reading before it even starts. Where did all these readers come from? Google (and Facebook and Twitter and Tumblr and Reddit) sent quite a few of course, but many Millions readers came from other sites too. These were the top 10 sites to send us traffic in 2015: 1. Flavorwire 2. MetaFilter 3. The Paris Review 4. Go Fug Yourself 5. LitHub 6. Complete Review 7. 3QuarksDaily 8. The Rumpus 9. Electric Literature 10. Longreads

The Best of The Millions: 2014

The Millions is going to be very quiet this week, a great opportunity for readers to catch up on some of the most notable pieces from the site during the year. To start, we’ll divide the most popular posts on The Millions into two categories, beginning with the 20 most popular pieces published on the site in 2014: 1. Sam Anderson and David Rees decided, for science, to do a deep dive on Dan Brown's thriller Inferno. The result was Dumbest Thing Ever: Scribbling in the Margins of Dan Brown’s Inferno and some of the funniest marginalia you'll ever read. 2. Oh, The Favorites You’ll Give: Literary Twitter’s Best Tweets: Many readers are well aware of the many charms that literary Twitter has to offer. We looked at the most "popular" tweets of some of the most well-known literary personalities on Twitter. 3. Style Sheet: A Conversation with My Copyeditor: Our own Edan Lepucki's made waves this year with her bestselling novel California, and as the book hit shelves, she took the opportunity to show us how the sausage is made. Among several behind-the-scenes interviews, Edan's visit with her copyeditor proved to be the most fascinating for our readers. 4. Read Me! Please!: Book Titles Rewritten to Get More Clicks: 2014 was the year of clickbait, snippets of twisted English pumped full of hyperbole and lacking in specificity, a concoction designed to wring maximum clicks from readers. Our own Janet Potter and Nick Moran pondered how some literary classics might have employed this same strategy. The results are hilarious... and terrifying. 5. 28 Books You Should Read If You Want To: Leery of proliferating lists exhorting us to read these 100 books (or those 100 completely different books) before we die, Janet Potter concocted her own reading list, one that feels more true to how we find the books that shape our lives. It begins: "You should read the book that you hear two booksellers arguing about at the registers while you’re browsing in a bookstore." 6. Our pair of Most Anticipated posts were popular among readers looking for something new to read. Our 2015 book preview is coming soon. 7. Commercial Grammar: It's easy to shrug off bad grammar in a logorrheic age, but Fiona Maazel outlined the danger of letting our language be manhandled by marketers. 8. 55 Thoughts for English Teachers: "All of a sudden, I have been teaching public school English for a decade." Our own Nick Ripatrazone with some powerful reflections on teaching high school English. 9. Italo Calvino’s Science Fiction Masterpiece: Calvino is beloved for his unique brand of literary fiction, but Ted Gioia argued persuasively that more attention should be paid to Calvino's "science fiction masterpiece" Cosmicomics. 10. Our star-studded Year in Reading was a big hit across the internet. 11. Only at The Millions could a review -- albeit an undeniably persuasive one -- of a 1,200-page work of literary criticism be one of the most popular pieces of the year. Jonathan Russell Clark painted a compelling picture of Michael Schmidt’s mammoth The Novel: A Biography 12. The Common Core Vs. Books: When Teachers Are Unable to Foster a Love of Reading in Students: The debate over Common Core standards raged across the U.S. in 2014. Alex Kalamaroff urged readers to reflect on what these standards might mean for the next generation of readers. 13. Shakespeare’s Greatest Play? 5 Experts Share Their Opinions: For the Latest in his series of roundtables, our own Kevin Hartnett asked five experts to name the greatest of Shakespeare's plays. 14. There Are Two Kinds of Novelists…: Let's be honest. Our own Matt Seidel is right. When you boil it down, there are really only two kinds of novelists... 15. We Cast The Goldfinch Movie so Hollywood Doesn’t Have To: Word of a film adaptation gave us all the excuse we needed to keep talking about Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch. Our own Janet Potter and Edan Lepucki saved everyone a lot of trouble and went ahead and put together a cast for the movie. 16. Judging Books by Their Covers 2014: U.S. Vs. U.K.: This unscientific look at book covers had readers taking sides in a trans-Atlantic design debate. 17: Thug: A Life of Caravaggio in Sixty-Nine Paragraphs: Pimp, brawler, Old Master. Stephen Akey introduced us to the epic life of Caravaggio. 18. Here Come the Americans: The 2014 Booker Prize Longlist: Readers love playing along during the annual literary prize season, but the addition of Americans to this year's Booker Prize was cause for heightened curiosity (and consternation). 19: How to be James Joyce, or the Habits of Great Writers: It's tempting to think that by copying the habits of the greats, you can become one. Elizabeth Winkler looked at some books about how history's greatest writers wrote and found habits as widely varied as the books they produced. 20: Cooking with Hemingway: Maybe it's easier then to simply eat like the greats? Stephanie Bernhard tried cooking like Hemingway and came away sated, if sometimes perplexed. There are also a number of older pieces that Millions readers return to again and again. This list of top “evergreens” comprises pieces that went up before 2014 but continued to find new readers. 1. The Weird 1969 New Wave Sci-Fi Novel that Correctly Predicted the Current Day: Ted Gioia profiled John Brunner's uncanny novel Stand on Zanzibar, which included, way back in 1969, a President Obomi and visionary ideas like satellite TV and the mainstreaming of gay lifestyles. 2. Dickens’s Best Novel? Six Experts Share Their Opinions: Kevin Hartnett polled the experts to discover the best on offer from the prolific 19th century master. 3. The Ultimate List: 25 Gifts That Writers Will Actually Use: For the picky writers in your life, Hannah Gerson delivered an array of ideas that will keep the creative juices flowing. 4. The Greatest American Novel? 9 Experts Share Their Opinions: Kevin Hartnett convened a panel of experts to offer their answers on a high-stakes literary question, What is the Great American Novel? The answers he received are thought-provoking, enlightening, and, of course, controversial. 5. The Best of the Millennium (So Far): Our late-2009 series invited a distinguished panel of writers and thinkers to nominate the best books of the decade. The ensuing list stoked controversy and interest that has lingered. The write-ups of the "winner" and runners-up have also remained popular. We also invited our readers to compile a "best of the decade" list. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the readers' list seemed to receive a warmer reception. 6. Tolstoy or Dostoevsky? 8 Experts on Who’s Greater: Readers also returned to Kevin Hartnett's Russian lit throwdown, for which he asked eight scholars and avid lay readers to present their cases for Tolstoy or Dostoevsky as the king of Russian literature. 7. A Year in Reading 2013: 2013’s series stayed popular in 2014. 8. Hard to Pronounce Literary Names Redux: the Definitive Edition: Seven years on, our “definitive” literary pronunciation guide is still a favorite at The Millions. There must be a lot of people name-dropping Goethe out there. 9. Ask the Writing Teacher: The MFA Debate: Writers pondering "To MFA or not to MFA" keep finding Edan Lepucki's thoughtful advice from her popular Ask the Writing Teacher column. 10. How Many Novelists are at Work in America? At the end of 2013, Dominic Smith pondered a scary question. The answer? More than you think. Where did all these readers come from? Google (and Facebook and Twitter and Tumblr and Reddit) sent quite a few of course, but many Millions readers came from other sites too. These were the top 10 sites to send us traffic in 2014: 1. Flavorwire 2. Arts & Letters Daily 3. MetaFilter 4. The Paris Review 5. BookRiot 6. Longform.org 7. The Hairpin 8. The Rumpus 9. NPR 10. New York Times

The Future Is Now

Back in 2013, Ted Gioia wrote a piece for The Millions about an old sci-fi novel that correctly predicted the future. Since then, he’s embarked on an ambitious project that expands on his interest in sci-fi, exploring how the most radical sci-fi writers of the sixties paved the way for much of modern fiction. As he puts it, “I focus on this era in the history of sci-fi because it laid the groundwork for one of the most important developments in current-day fiction."

The Best of The Millions: 2013

The Millions is going to be very quiet this week, a great opportunity for readers to catch up on some of the most notable pieces from the site during the year. To start, we’ll divide the most popular posts on The Millions into two categories, beginning with the 20 most popular pieces published on the site in 2013: 1. Our pair of Most Anticipated posts were popular among readers looking for something new to read. Our 2014 book preview is coming soon. 2. The Weird 1969 New Wave Sci-Fi Novel that Correctly Predicted the Current Day: Ted Gioia profiled John Brunner's uncanny novel Stand on Zanzibar, which included, way back in 1969, a President Obomi and visionary ideas like satellite TV and the mainstreaming of gay lifestyles. 3. The Greatest American Novel? 9 Experts Share Their Opinions: Kevin Hartnett convened a panel of experts to offer their answers on a high-stakes literary question, What is the Great American Novel? The answers he received are thought-provoking, enlightening, and, of course, controversial. 4. Judging Books by Their Covers 2013: U.S. Vs. U.K.: This unscientific look at book covers had readers taking sides in a trans-Atlantic design debate. 5. Modern Life is Rubbish: Tao Lin’s Taipei: Perhaps no book polarized readers in 2013 like Lin's Taipei. Lydia Kiesling wasn't a fan. Her review -- which opens, "When I began to read Taipei on my morning commute, I wondered if I had been lobotomized in the night" -- reverberated across the literary landscape like few reviews published in 2013. 6. Judging Luhrmann’s Gatsby: Five English Scholars Weigh In: For literary types, Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby was the film event of the year, and while reviews were mixed, a panel of literature professors convened by Kevin Hartnett was, perhaps surprisingly, charmed by Luhrmann's effort. 7. 5 Series You Probably Missed as a Kid (But Should Read as an Adult): Noting the joy of coming to a transporting literary experience with no preconceived notions, Celeste Ng alerted readers to five YA series that she believes will have grown-up readers turning pages well past bedtime. 8. Amazon Announces Purchase of English™: Book behemoth Amazon continued its conquest of the planet in 2013, so the early April announcement -- as relayed by Michael Bourne -- that Bezos and company had acquired the entirety of the English language didn't come as a complete surprise. 9. Our star-studded Year in Reading was a big hit across the internet. 10. The Ultimate List: 25 Gifts That Writers Will Actually Use: For the picky writers in your life, Hannah Gerson delivered an array of ideas that will keep the creative juices flowing. 11. So That If I Died It Mattered: Poet Jon Sands's powerful piece had readers calling their moms to say "I love you." Here's just a tiny bit of this remarkable essay: "When asked to explain my choices, I’ve said, 'Art is how you explain what it feels like to be alive in the 21st century. I am an emotional historian.' But that’s really my answer to, 'Why should we all make art?' My why is more personal." 12. Ten Books to Read Now That HBO’s Girls Is Back: Much loved and much fretted about, Girls remained a flash point in 2013, and Claire Miye Stanford did a great job highlighting the literary progenitors and contemporaries of the girls of Girls. 13. Tumblr Index: Your Guide to Artistic and Literary Tumblrs, Part III: Nick Moran continued in his tireless effort to introduce us to the rich array of literary Tumblrs. 14. A Breaking Bad (and Beyond) Reading List: No television show was more talked about in 2013 than Breaking Bad. Lauren Eggert-Crowe offered up a great list of books to get readers through their post-finale withdrawal. 15. Too Many Heavens: On Travelogues to the Great Beyond: "Heaven and back" memoirs have been publishing gold in recent years. Rhys Southan binged on heaven travelogues and found that the great beyond is in the eye of the beholder. 16. My Happy, Hopeful News: Novelist Emma Straub's deeply personal essay about birth, life and hope struck a chord. 17. Call Me Twitterer: Literary Twitter’s First Tweets: Twitter has become an unlikely playground for many literary luminaries, but their first steps on that platform were awkward more often than not. 18. My New Year’s Resolution: Read Fewer Books: Michael Bourne's unlikely resolution invited us to slow down and savor what we read. 19. The Problem With Summer Reading: It's the scourge of students, the bane of parents. High school teacher Carolyn Ross explains why compulsory summer reading is all wrong. 20. A Forgotten Bestseller: The Saga of John Williams’s Stoner: The little book that could, Stoner, continued to win over new readers here and abroad in 2013. Claire Cameron dug up the unlikely story behind the publishing sensation. There are also a number of older pieces that Millions readers return to again and again. This list of top “evergreens” comprises pieces that went up before 2013 but continued to find new readers. 1. A Beginner’s Guide to Alice Munro: Readers cheered when the Nobel committee named Alice Munro our newest literary laureate. Ben Dolnick's 2012 guide proved invaluable for readers looking to get acquainted, or re-acquainted, with her work. 2. Dickens’s Best Novel? Six Experts Share Their Opinions: Kevin Hartnett polled the experts to discover the best on offer from the prolific 19th century master. 3. Tolstoy or Dostoevsky? 8 Experts on Who’s Greater: Readers also returned to Kevin Hartnett's Russian lit throwdown, for which he asked eight scholars and avid lay readers to present their cases for Tolstoy or Dostoevsky as the king of Russian literature. 4. Hard to Pronounce Literary Names Redux: the Definitive Edition: Seven years on, our “definitive” literary pronunciation guide is still a favorite at The Millions. There must be a lot of people name-dropping Goethe out there. 5. Crime Pays: Jo Nesbø Talks about Killing Harry Hole and the Best Job in the World: The Scandinavian crime novel remains a favorite genre, and Robert Birnbaum's illuminating interview with one of its foremost practitioners attracted new readers in 2013. 6. A Year in Reading 2012: 2012’s series stayed popular in 2013. 7. The Best of the Millennium (So Far): Our late-2009 series invited a distinguished panel of writers and thinkers to nominate the best books of the decade. The ensuing list stoked controversy and interest that has lingered. The write-ups of the "winner" and runners-up have also remained popular. We also invited our readers to compile a "best of the decade" list. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the readers' list seemed to receive a warmer reception. 8. Confessions of a Book Pirate: Our interview with someone actually "pirating" ebooks put a face on a nebulous trend and generated huge interest among readers, the publishing industry, and the media. 9. Dashboard? More Like Bookshelf: Your Guide to Literary Tumblrs: The initial installment (and the second installment) of Nick Moran's list remained popular with readers looking to get acquainted with literary Tumblr. 10. Ask the Writing Teacher: The MFA Debate: Writers pondering "To MFA or not to MFA" keep finding Edan Lepucki's thoughtful advice from her popular Ask the Writing Teacher column. Where did all these readers come from? Google (and Facebook and Twitter and Tumblr and Reddit) sent quite a few of course, but many Millions readers came from other sites too. These were the top 10 sites to send us traffic in 2013: 1. Flavorwire 2. io9 3. HuffPo 4. Arts & Letters Daily 5. The Paris Review 6. The Daily Beast 7. The Rumpus 8. Andrew Sullivan 9. The New Yorker 10. MetaFilter

The Millions Top Ten: September 2013

We spend plenty of time here on The Millions telling all of you what we’ve been reading, but we are also quite interested in hearing about what you’ve been reading. By looking at our Amazon stats, we can see what books Millions readers have been buying, and we decided it would be fun to use those stats to find out what books have been most popular with our readers in recent months. Below you’ll find our Millions Top Ten list for September. This Month Last Month Title On List 1. 2. The Pioneer Detectives 3 months 2. 1. Taipei 4 months 3. 7. Fox 8 3 months 4. 5. The Orphan Master's Son 4 months 5. - Bleeding Edge 1 month 6. 10. Night Film 2 months 7. 8. Visitation Street 3 months 8. 9. The Interestings 3 months 9. - MaddAddam 1 month 10. - The Lowland 1 month This month our second ebook original The Pioneer Detectives moves into the top spot as the book continues to garner very positive reviews from readers. We hope you'll pick it up if you haven't already. Meanwhile, our list sees a big shake up as three books graduate to our Hall of Fame: Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk: Ben Fountain's book won the 2012 National Book Critics Circle Award. Fountain appeared in our Year in Reading, and Edan Lepucki interviewed him in these pages last June. Stand on Zanzibar: Ted Gioia penned a very popular piece about the remarkably prescient predictions contained within John Brunner’s book and readers ran to check it out. The Middlesteins: Author Jami Attenberg made an appearance in our Year in Reading in December. These graduates make room for three heavy-hitting debuts, all of which appeared in our big second-half preview: Bleeding Edge by Thomas Pynchon, MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood (don't miss Atwood's appearance in our Year in Reading; we haven't quite tracked down Pynchon yet for this), and The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri. Near Misses: Vampires in the Lemon Grove, The Flamethrowers, Life After Life, They Don't Dance Much and Telex from Cuba. See Also: Last month's list.

The Millions Top Ten: August 2013

We spend plenty of time here on The Millions telling all of you what we’ve been reading, but we are also quite interested in hearing about what you’ve been reading. By looking at our Amazon stats, we can see what books Millions readers have been buying, and we decided it would be fun to use those stats to find out what books have been most popular with our readers in recent months. Below you’ll find our Millions Top Ten list for August. This Month Last Month Title On List 1. 1. Taipei 3 months 2. 9. The Pioneer Detectives 2 months 3. 5. Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk 6 months 4. 2. Stand on Zanzibar 6 months 5. 4. The Orphan Master's Son 4 months 6. 3. The Middlesteins 6 months 7. 10. Fox 8 2 months 8. 8. Visitation Street 2 months 9. 6. The Interestings 2 months 10. - Night Film 1 month Tao Lin's Taipei remains in our top spot. (For more on the book's success in our Top Ten, take a look at my commentary on June's list.) Meanwhile, our Millions Original The Pioneer Detectives by Konstantin Kakaes surges into the second spot and continues to win rave reviews from readers. Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain was also a mover, landing in the third spot as it nears graduation to our illustrious Hall of Fame. Our one debut this month is Marisha Pessl's anticipated sophomore effort Night Film. Our own Bill Morris called the book a "stirring second act" but commenters have voiced strong disagreement. Pessl bumps Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell from the Top Ten (at least for now). Other Near Misses: They Don't Dance Much, Speedboat, Wonder Boys and My Struggle: Book 1. See Also: Last month's list.

The Millions Top Ten: July 2013

We spend plenty of time here on The Millions telling all of you what we’ve been reading, but we are also quite interested in hearing about what you’ve been reading. By looking at our Amazon stats, we can see what books Millions readers have been buying, and we decided it would be fun to use those stats to find out what books have been most popular with our readers in recent months. Below you’ll find our Millions Top Ten list for July. This Month Last Month Title On List 1. 3. Taipei 2 months 2. 4. Stand on Zanzibar 5 months 3. 5. The Middlesteins 5 months 4. 7. The Orphan Master's Son 3 months 5. 8. Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk 5 months 6. - The Interestings 1 month 7. 9. Vampires in the Lemon Grove 4 months 8. - Visitation Street 1 month 9. - The Pioneer Detectives 1 month 10. - Fox 8 1 month   Big changes on our list this month as four titles graduate to our illustrious Hall of Fame. Let's run through new Hall of Famers quickly: Epic Fail: Bad Art, Viral Fame, and the History of the Worst Thing Ever: As many of our readers are already aware, staff writer Mark O'Connell's shorter-format ebook was The Millions' first foray into ebook publishing. We have been thrilled by the great reader response. And, if you haven't had a chance to check it out yet, why not mark its graduation to the Hall of Fame by checking out this special, little book (for only $1.99!) Tenth of December: 2013 opened with the book world agog over George Saunders' newest collection. He famously graced the cover of the New York Times Magazine under the banner "Greatest Human Ever in the History of Ever" (or something like that) and the book figured very prominently in our first-half preview. Unsurprisingly, all the hype helped drive a lot of sales. It also led our own Elizabeth Minkel to reflect on Saunders and the question of greatness in a thoughtful essay. Building Stories: Chris Ware has reached the point in his career (legions of fans, museum shows) where he can do whatever he wants. And what he wanted to do was produce a "book" the likes of which we hadn't seen before, a box of scattered narratives to be delved into any which way the reader wanted, all shot through with Ware's signature style and melancholy. Ware appeared in our Year in Reading last year with an unlikely selection. Mark O'Connell called Building Stories "a rare gift." Arcadia: Lauren Groff is another Millions favorite, though it took a bit longer for her book, first released in March 2012, to make our list. Our own Edan Lepucki interviewed Groff soon after the book's release, and Groff later participated in our Year in Reading, discussing her "year of savage, brilliant, and vastly underrated female writers." That leaves room, then, for four debuts on this month's list: The Interestings: Though Meg Wolitzer is already a well-known, bestselling author, her big novel seems to be on the slow burn trajectory to breakout status, with the word-of-mouth wave (at least in the part of the world that I frequent), building month by month. That word of mouth was perhaps helped along the way by Edan Lepucki's rollicking review, in which, among other things, she posited what it means for a "big literary book" to be written by someone other than a "big literary man." Visitation Street: Ivy Pochoda's new thriller featured prominently in our latest preview and carries the imprimatur of Dennis Lehane. That seems to have been enough to land the book on our list. The Pioneer Detectives: As one Millions Original graduates from our list, another arrives. The Pioneer Detectives, which debuted in the second half of July, is an ambitious work of page-turning reportage, the kind of journalism we all crave but that can often be hard to find. Filled with brilliant insights into how scientific discoveries are made and expertly edited by our own Garth Hallberg, The Pioneer Detectives is a bargain at $2.99. We hope you'll pick it up. Fox 8: And as one George Saunders work graduates from our list, another arrives. This one is an uncollected story, sold as an e-single. Meanwhile, Tao Lin's Taipei easily slides into our top spot. For more on the book's unlikely success in our Top Ten, don't miss my commentary for last month's list. Near Misses: They Don't Dance Much, Speedboat, My Struggle: Book 1, The Flamethrowers and Life After Life. See Also: Last month's list.

The Millions Top Ten: June 2013

We spend plenty of time here on The Millions telling all of you what we’ve been reading, but we are also quite interested in hearing about what you’ve been reading. By looking at our Amazon stats, we can see what books Millions readers have been buying, and we decided it would be fun to use those stats to find out what books have been most popular with our readers in recent months. Below you’ll find our Millions Top Ten list for June. This Month Last Month Title On List 1. 1. Epic Fail: Bad Art, Viral Fame, and the History of the Worst Thing Ever 6 months 2. 2. Tenth of December 6 months 3. - Taipei 1 month 4. 4. Stand on Zanzibar 4 months 5. 5. The Middlesteins 4 months 6. 6. Building Stories 6 months 7. 9. The Orphan Master's Son 2 months 8. 7. Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk 4 months 9. 8. Vampires in the Lemon Grove 3 months 10. 10. Arcadia 6 months   We had one debut on our list this month, and it may come as a surprise for readers who have been following the site. Our own Lydia Kiesling read Tao Lin's Taipei and came away viscerally turned off by a book that has received quite a lot of attention both for its attempt to forge a new style and for the aura of its author, who has an army of followers and is, as New York once called him, "a savant of self-promotion." Despite Lydia's misgivings, the book has been on balance reviewed positively, including in the Times. Still, Lydia's review - negative as it was - was utterly compelling (Gawker thought so too), and because of that, as I watched the sales of Taipei pile up last month, I was not completely surprised. After all, the last target of a stirring and controversial pan (don't miss the angry comments) at The Millions was Janet Potter's fiery takedown of Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy, and two of those three of those books now sit in comfortable retirement in our Hall of Fame. In the case of Taipei, the lion's share of credit of course goes to Lin for writing a book that readers are evidently very curious to read, but I think it is also true that a well crafted, properly supported, and strongly opinionated review like Lydia's can have the odd effect of compelling the reader to see what all the fuss is about. In fact, this phenomenon has been studied and a recent paper showed that, "For books by relatively unknown (new) authors, however, negative publicity has the opposite effect, increasing sales by 45%." (I think in the context of this study, it is fair to call Lin "relatively unknown." While Lin may be well-known among Millions readers, he is not a household name outside of certain households in Brooklyn, and when readers flocked to read the review from Gawker and other sites that linked to it, they may have been compelled to check the book out for themselves.) As we have known for a while at The Millions, to cover a book at all is to confer upon it that we believe the book is important, and whether you believe the book is "good" or "bad," Taipei was certainly worthy of our coverage. Otherwise, June was another quiet month for our list with the top two positions unchanged, including Millions ebook Epic Fail: Bad Art, Viral Fame, and the History of the Worst Thing Ever at number one, while An Arrangement of Light, Nicole Krauss's ebook-only short story graduates to our Hall of Fame. Next month, things will get interesting on our list as we may see as many as four books graduate to the Hall of Fame, opening up plenty of room for newcomers. Near Misses: Fox 8, The Interestings, All That Is, The Round House, and The Flamethrowers. See Also: Last month's list.

The Millions Top Ten: May 2013

We spend plenty of time here on The Millions telling all of you what we’ve been reading, but we are also quite interested in hearing about what you’ve been reading. By looking at our Amazon stats, we can see what books Millions readers have been buying, and we decided it would be fun to use those stats to find out what books have been most popular with our readers in recent months. Below you’ll find our Millions Top Ten list for May. This Month Last Month Title On List 1. 1. Epic Fail: Bad Art, Viral Fame, and the History of the Worst Thing Ever 5 months 2. 2. Tenth of December 5 months 3. 3. An Arrangement of Light 6 months 4. 5. Stand on Zanzibar 3 months 5. 4. The Middlesteins 3 months 6. 6. Building Stories 5 months 7. 7. Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk 3 months 8. 10. Vampires in the Lemon Grove 2 months 9. - The Orphan Master's Son 1 month 10. 8. Arcadia 5 months   May was quiet for our list, with the top three positions unchanged, including Millions ebook Epic Fail: Bad Art, Viral Fame, and the History of the Worst Thing Ever at number one. Our one debut, an number eight, is Adam Johnson's much lauded The Orphan Master's Son, recent recipient of both the Pulitzer and the Rooster. Johnson's book pushes the David Foster Wallace essay collection Both Flesh and Not off the list. Other Near Misses: Fox 8, The Round House, All That Is, and Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief. See Also: Last month's list.

The Millions Top Ten: April 2013

We spend plenty of time here on The Millions telling all of you what we’ve been reading, but we are also quite interested in hearing about what you’ve been reading. By looking at our Amazon stats, we can see what books Millions readers have been buying, and we decided it would be fun to use those stats to find out what books have been most popular with our readers in recent months. Below you’ll find our Millions Top Ten list for April. This Month Last Month Title On List 1. 1. Epic Fail: Bad Art, Viral Fame, and the History of the Worst Thing Ever 4 months 2. 2. Tenth of December 4 months 3. 3. An Arrangement of Light 5 months 4. 4. The Middlesteins 2 month 5. 7. Stand on Zanzibar 2 months 6. 5. Building Stories 4 months 7. 8. Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk 2 months 8. 9. Arcadia 4 months 9. 10. Both Flesh and Not 5 months 10. - Vampires in the Lemon Grove 1 month   In September 2012, we interviewed Sadie Stein, one of the Paris Review editors behind Object Lessons: The Paris Review Presents the Art of the Short Story, a book that seems tailor-made to appeal to Millions readers. In it, a handful of accomplished short story writers -- Ann Beattie, Jeffrey Eugenides, Joy Williams, and so on -- were asked to pick a favorite story from the journal’s archive, then write a brief introduction explaining how the story spoke to them. After a six-month run, the book has now graduated to our Hall of Fame. Otherwise, our list doesn't see a whole lot of movement, with the top four positions unchanged, including Millions ebook Epic Fail: Bad Art, Viral Fame, and the History of the Worst Thing Ever at number one. Karen Russell's Vampires in the Lemon Grove is our one debut this month. We've interviewed Russell twice, in 2011 and again early this year. Vampires was also featured in our big 2013 book preview. Near Misses: The Round House, The Orphan Master's Son, Fox 8, Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief, and Dear Life. See Also: Last month's list.

The Millions Top Ten: March 2013

We spend plenty of time here on The Millions telling all of you what we’ve been reading, but we are also quite interested in hearing about what you’ve been reading. By looking at our Amazon stats, we can see what books Millions readers have been buying, and we decided it would be fun to use those stats to find out what books have been most popular with our readers in recent months. Below you’ll find our Millions Top Ten list for March. This Month Last Month Title On List 1. 1. Epic Fail: Bad Art, Viral Fame, and the History of the Worst Thing Ever 3 months 2. 3. Tenth of December 3 months 3. 4. An Arrangement of Light 4 months 4. - The Middlesteins 1 month 5. 5. Building Stories 3 months 6. 6. Object Lessons: The Paris Review Presents the Art of the Short Story 6 months 7. - Stand on Zanzibar 1 month 8. - Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk 1 month 9. 8. Arcadia 3 months 10. 7. Both Flesh and Not 4 months   Last fall saw the arrival of three hotly anticpated titles from a trio of the most popular literary writers working today. Now those three titles are ending their run in our Top Ten by graduating to our Hall of Fame: This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Díaz, NW by Zadie Smith, and Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon. Those graduations made room for three debuts. Jami Attenberg's The Middlesteins pops up at number four. Attenberg made an appearance in our Year in Reading in December. The most popular piece on The Millions last month, by a wide margin, was Ted Gioia's unearthing of John Brunner's Stand on Zanzibar and the remarkably prescient predictions contained within. The essay sent readers running to check out the book. Finally, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain completed its long, stead ascent onto our list. Fountain also appeared in our Year in Reading, and Edan Lepucki interviewed him in these pages last June. Our first ebook original, Epic Fail: Bad Art, Viral Fame, and the History of the Worst Thing Ever by staff writer Mark O'Connell, stayed atop our list and continues to win praise from readers and critics. An exerpt is available here and you can learn more about the book here. Near Misses: The Round House, Vampires in the Lemon Grove, Dear Life, Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief, and Sweet Tooth. See Also: Last month's list.

The Weird 1969 New Wave Sci-Fi Novel that Correctly Predicted the Current Day

Stand on Zanzibar is that rarity among science fiction novels — it really made accurate predictions about the future. The book, published in 1969, is set in the year 2010, and this allows us to make a point-by-point comparison, and marvel at novelist John Brunner’s uncanny ability to anticipate the shape of the world to come.  Indeed, his vision of the year 2010 even includes a popular leader named President Obomi — face it, Nate Silver himself couldn’t have done that back in 1969! Let me list some of the other correct predictions in Brunner’s book: (1) Random acts of violence by crazy individuals, often taking place at schools, plague society in Stand on Zanzibar. (2) The other major source of instability and violence comes from terrorists, who are now a major threat to U.S. interests, and even manage to attack buildings within the United States. (3) Prices have increased sixfold between 1960 and 2010 because of inflation. (The actual increase in U.S. prices during that period was sevenfold, but Brunner was close.) (4) The most powerful U.S. rival is no longer the Soviet Union, but China. However, much of the competition between the U.S. and Asia is played out in economics, trade, and technology instead of overt warfare. (5) Europeans have formed a union of nations to improve their economic prospects and influence on world affairs. In international issues, Britain tends to side with the U.S., but other countries in Europe are often critical of U.S. initiatives. (6) Africa still trails far behind the rest of the world in economic development, and Israel remains the epicenter of tensions in the Middle East. (7) Although some people still get married, many in the younger generation now prefer short-term hookups without long-term commitment. (8) Gay and bisexual lifestyles have gone mainstream, and pharmaceuticals to improve sexual performance are widely used (and even advertised in the media). (9) Many decades of affirmative action have brought blacks into positions of power, but racial tensions still simmer throughout society. (10) Motor vehicles increasingly run on electric fuel cells. Honda (primarily known as a motorcycle manufacturers when Brunner wrote his book) is a major supplier, along with General Motors. (11) Yet Detroit has not prospered, and is almost a ghost town because of all the shuttered factories. However. a new kind of music — with an uncanny resemblance to the actual Detroit techno movement of the 1990s — has sprung up in the city. (12) TV news channels have now gone global via satellite. (13) TiVo-type systems allow people to view TV programs according to their own schedule. (14) Inflight entertainment systems on planes now include video programs and news accessible on individual screens at each seat. (15) People rely on avatars to represent themselves on video screens — Brunner calls these images, which either can look like you or take on another appearance you select — “Mr. and Mrs. Everywhere.” (16) Computer documents are generated with laser printers. (17) A social and political backlash has marginalized tobacco, but marijuana has been decriminalized. Other science fiction books have occasionally made successful predictions, from Jules Verne’s Around the Moon (1865), which eerily anticipated many details of the Apollo program, to William Gibson’s Neuromancer (1984) with its descriptions of cyberspace and hackers. But Brunner’s work stands out as the most uncanny anticipation of what would actually change — and what would stay the same — in the decades following its publication. Certainly, there are many details, large and small, that Brunner got wrong. But even when the particulars don’t ring true, the overarching theme of Stand on Zanzibar, which is the hidden cost of our obsession with human perfectibility, is just as relevant today as when Brunner wrote his novel. In this book, each of the major characters is on a mission to improve the human race, and in ways that are all-too-familiar to us today. Sometimes this preoccupation manifests itself in legislation and regulation; politics — both national and global — increasingly manifests itself as a competition between different schemes for human improvement in Stand on Zanzibar. Certainly that attitude shows no sign of going out of style in the current day. Even minor characters in Stand on Zanzibar distinguish themselves by their zeal for upgrading the species, whether through writing books filled with advice and indictments, or business investment in impoverished regions, or implementing ambitious software programs that improve the efficiency and quality of life, or just good, old psychological manipulation. These too are still part of our everyday life. But the most popular — and controversial — method of human improvement in the fictional world of 2010 presented by Brunner draws on biotechnology and the potential for tinkering with our DNA. A few days before I wrote this essay, I ran across an article about a Harvard professor who proposes placing Stone Age genes in a human embryo, then implanting it in an “adventurous woman” who would serve as surrogate mother for the the resulting Neanderthal baby. This scenario sounds like something lifted straight from the pages of Stand on Zanzibar. In Brunner’s novel, a prominent professor named Sugaiguntung is working on a comparable line of research, and hopes to create superhumans by drawing on his experiences manipulating the DNA of orangutans. Indeed, the sci-fi story sounds more plausible than the news story. The plot is deliberately fractured and presented in fragments by Brunner, who modeled his work on John Dos Passos’s similarly structured (or rather unstructured) U.S.A. Trilogy. Like Dos Passos, he interjects headlines, bits of news stories, song lyrics, self-contained background interludes, and other cultural bric-à-brac into his narrative. But unlike Dos Passos, Brunner finds ways of pulling the different threads together into extravagant new shapes — most notably in the final pages, when a novel that seems too disparate to cohere surprises readers by the elegance with which all the pieces come together. And though there are many things to admire in this prickly, unconventional book, perhaps the most impressive feat is our author’s ability to maintain tight control with a clear sense of purpose and direction even when the narrative appears the most anarchic and chaotic. Put another way, what originally comes across as a free-spirited 1960s novel, long on attitude but short on clarity, turns out to have more in common with those artful new millennium novels, such as Cloud Atlas, A Visit from the Goon Squad, or Gods Without Men, in which all the storylines converge, the colorful subplots fitting together into a brilliant and unexpected mosaic. Two diverging plot lines dominate the novel. Norman House is an African-American who has joined the senior management of GT, a multinational corporation akin to General Electric. To advance his career and staunch his growing alienation, House signs on to an ambitious project in Africa that promises both to make bundles of money and also improve the quality of life for the citizens of a desperately poor Third World nation. At almost the same moment, House’s roommate Donald Hogan embarks on an even more challenging project — one that requires him to operate as a spy in a hostile Asian country, loosely based on Indonesia, where amazing breakthroughs in genetic research have been announced. These two plot lines will eventually come together, but Brunner takes his time in this big, discursive book, and much of the appeal from Stand on Zanzibar comes from the subplots and minor characters. A bohemian author named Chad C. Mulligan provides both insight and comic relief in equal doses, and is such a persuasive figure that he deserves to star in a novel of his own. Guinivere Steel, the hard-edged leader of a boutique chain, is another compelling figure who only gets a bit part. Her specialty is throwing extravagant society parties in which the entertainment is built around her humiliation of the guests, especially those she doesn’t want to invite to her next soirée. And, staying true to a time-honored sci-fi tradition, Brunner includes one top-notch digital character, the computer Shalmaneser, which is to the GT Corp what that chess-playing electronic brain Deep Blue is to IBM. As I look back at the remarkable burst of experimentation in science fiction during the 1960s, led primarily by the younger New Wave authors, I am frequently disappointed by how few of them hold up nowadays. Too often, bold techniques that promised to open up new terrain to SF during the 1960s and 1970s ended up as stylistic dead ends by the time we got to the 1980s and 1990s. But Brunner, older than most of the other New Wave authors and in some ways the least likely to deliver a breakthrough novel — he had been churning out conventional genre books, sometimes a half-dozen or more in a single year, for almost two decades when he published Stand on Zanzibar — raised the ante further in these pages and won on his big bet. And he did so with a risky gambit, in which both form and content were stretched to their limits. That he managed to get so many predictions right along the way is to his credit, but hardly the only reason to read this one-of-a-kind novel.
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