Stand on Zanzibar


Stock cue SOUND: Presenting SCANALYZER, Engrelay Satelserve’s unique thrice-per-day study of the big big scene, the INdepth INdependent INmediate INterface between you and your world!’

– John Brunner, Stand on Zanzibar

Stand on Zanzibar (1968) was written by John Brunner

It shares the theme of overpopulation with Make Room! Make Room! by Harry Harrison.


The Hipcrime Vocab by fictional sociologist Chad C. Mulligan

Brunner’s novel includes much ‘futuristic’ slang, including ‘bleeder’, ’sheeting’, ‘whatinole’, ’shiggy’, ‘codder’, ‘muckers’, and ‘prodgies’

‘Bleeder’ refers to those carrying the  gene for anaemia; in a world where population is strictly controled those carrying genetic disorders are a despised minority (see my essay on The Seven Words You Can Never Say in Science Fiction).




In contrast to the mucker-prone West, the developing nation Beninia is peaceful; in fact there has been no murder committed there for 15 years. This peacefulness is reflected linguistically:

     ‘Ask him if you can express the idea of losing your temper in Shinka. You can’t. You can only use the word which means ”insane”.’
     ‘I’m telling you. […] I don’t speak the language well myself, but I can get along. Facts are: you can say ‘annoyed’ or even ‘exasperated’, but both those words came originally from roots meaning ‘creditor’. Someone you get angry with owes you an apology in the same way you’re owed money or a cow. You can say ‘crazy’ and put one of two modifiers on the front of it – either the root for ‘amusing’ or the root for ‘tears’. In the latter case, you’re talking about someone who’s hopelessly out of his mind, sick, to be tended and cleaned up after. In the former, you’re inviting people to laugh at someone who’s lost his temper, but will return to normal sooner or later.’
     ‘They regard anger as being literal insanity?’
     ‘They don’t regard it as being important enough to have a seperate word to label it, that’s all I can say.’

– John Brunner, Stand on Zanzibar (p.413)




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