John Brunner (1934-1995) was a British science fiction writer usually associated with the New Wave Science Fiction
movement. His best-known novels include Stand on Zanzibar
(which won a Hugo Award
), The Shockwave Rider
(a forerunner of Cyberpunk
that predicted many aspects of the internet), The Sheep Look Up
, Jagged Orbit
, and The Squares of the City
. Also notable is The Traveller in Black
(later further expanded as The Compleat Traveller in Black
), a collection of short stories.
Works by John Brunner that have their own trope pages include:
Other works by John Brunner provide examples of:
- Aesoptinum: The novel The Stone That Never Came Down centers around an artificial, self-replicating protein (today, we'd call it a prion) that eliminates selective inattention - the brain has to make connections between pieces of information that it previously ignored. In addition to an intelligence boost, this bestows automatic empathy, since those infected can no longer disregard the genuine pain that others feel.
- Bathe Her and Bring Her to Me: In the Traveller in Black novella "The Wager Lost by Winning", the rather unsympathetic protagonist is bathed before being claimed by Lord Fellian.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: A recurring theme in the Traveller in Black stories; those who wish carelessly and selfishly get their comeuppance, while those who wish unselfishly (whose number, in the entire series, can be counted on one hand) are rewarded.
- Bizarre Alien Senses: The extinct aliens in Total Eclipse were able to sense electric fields. A minor plot point is the protagonist reasoning that the aliens must have lived in constant terror of thunderstorms. He is therefore able to deduce that a bizarre bellows-like gizmo the archaeologists found must have been a device for predicting the weather.
- The Chessmaster: The chess-motif-laden novel The Squares of the City appropriately has one as the villain.
- Chess Motifs: All over the place in The Squares of the City.
- Fake Memories: In the Traveller in Black novella "Imprint of Chaos", an evil magician takes a seat on the Ruling Council of a city, the better to cause the citizens to make a choice that will increase Chaos in the area. His plan includes implanting Fake Memories that he has always been a member of the Council himself in the rest of the Council members.
- Fiction 500: The central characters of "The Totally Rich" would put anybody on the Fortune 500 in the shade. They wouldn't appear on any such list themselves; part of what it means to be totally rich is that, in a world of paparazzi and celebrity profiles, they can afford true privacy — how rich are they? They're so rich that you've never heard of them.
- For Science!: The motivation of one of the villains in The Squares of the City; it's all about getting to try out his techniques in real-world conditions, and never mind about fiddly ethical considerations.
- Human Chess: In The Squares in the City, the leaders of the city play it.
- I Have Many Names: The Traveller in Black is described more than once as "having many names, but only one nature".
- Literary Allusion Title: "The hungry sheep look up, and are not fed" ("Lycidas", John Milton)
- The Magic Goes Away: The mission of the Traveller in Black is to make this happen.
- Mind Over Manners: Played with in Telepathist. Telepaths are prey to human failings like everyone else, but the ability to truly know what other people feel drives them to help others, as they can feel other people's pain.
- Order Versus Chaos: The overarching conflict of the "Traveller in Black" stories; the Traveller himself is an agent of Order.
- Pun-Based Title: "The Squares of the City" has chess as a strong theme throughout.
- Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory: Discussed in Times Without Number, in the context of an international treaty agreeing that the signatories will not use time travel to undermine the history of one another. A character points out that, since ripple-effect-proof memory isn't a thing in this setting, the treaty is essentially worthless: if somebody breaks it, there's no way to prove they changed anything, because all the historical evidence will reflect the new timeline as if it always existed.
- Rubber-Band History: Times Without Number is a collection of short stories set in an alternate history where the Spanish Armada conquered England and the resultant European superpower went on to invent time travel. In the final story, an extremist travels back in time to sabotage the Armada; despite the hero's efforts, he succeeds, creating the history we're familiar with.
- Scarecrow Solution: Used to frighten off a god (it wasn't a very smart god) in one of the Traveller in Black stories.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: "The Totally Rich"
- Squishy Wizard: In The Telepathist, Howson's telepathic power is second-to-none, but he is afflicted with haemophilia and scoliosis, and never went through puberty, because the region of the brain that controls the growth of the body was overwhelmed by the area that governs telepathic ability.
- Subliminal Seduction: Used to manipulate the population in The Squares of the City.
- Unfazed Everyman: In the first Traveller in Black story, a 20th-century Englishman is summoned to the magical past in which the stories are set, and reacts to every strange thing he encounters with calm rationality. (It's suggested that he was specifically chosen for that attribute, it being in notably short supply in that place at that time.)
- Telepathy: Explored in The Telepathist.
- Walking the Earth: The title character of The Traveller in Black