Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,

July Books 3) The Jagged Orbit, by John Brunner

Mother Superior couldn't be drearier! Life is opressive and lonely and dun! Little Miss Celia envied Ophelia - Hamlet ignored her and then there was none!
This won the second BSFA Best Novel Award in 1970 (after the same author's Stand on Zanzibar the previous year). It is set in 2014, mainly in and around New York, with a background of racial conflict, proliferation of privately owned weapons, and mass media which presents news as entertainment; there was a particularly good paragraph predicting spam, which unfortunately I failed to mark and couldn't track down again. The story also involves a young woman who has visions of the future when in a drug-induced trance, which is less noticeably a feature of today's society. As with Brunner's other books, it is interspersed with news items giving a wider context, though here a lot of them are apparently from British news coverage of the racial tension in the USA in the late 1960s.

While I liked the intensity and indeed accuracy of the setting, I found the basic plot rather less engaging, and the characters not awfully sympathetic or memorable. It's not recorded what else was up for the 1970 BSFA award, but The Left Hand of Darkness won both Hugo and Nebula (The Jagged Orbit was nominated for the latter).
Tags: bookblog 2013, sf: bsfa award, writer: john brunner

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