John Kilian Houston Brunner (24 September 1934 — 26 August 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:
- The Crucible of Time
- The Shockwave Rider
- The Squares of the City
- Stand on Zanzibar
- The Traveller in Black
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.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: "Galactic Consumer Reports No. 1: Automatic Twin-Tube Wishing Machines" is all about this trope. The devices are actually twin tube because a prototype device had produced a creature that killed the creator, so a second tube was introduced as a limiter. The story is all about the device not quite managing, but it's still stated to be better than the cheaper one-tube variants - it's mentioned that a five year old kid took over his homeworld with one. In contrast, the worst we get from a twin-tuber is "merely" a couple thousand people blown up because some loser's Get-Rich-Quick Scheme involved wishing for too much uranium-235 at once.
- 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.
- Broken Pedestal: In "Galactic Consumer Reports No. 1: Inexpensive Time Machines", the titular devices have restrictions on what eras one can travel. As the report states, one might think it's out of fear that history will be changed, but in reality, a Time Police from the 11th millennium handles the matter far better than any built-in safeguards can. It's a question of avoiding this trope, so a Jew, for example, can set his machine to avoid accidentally seeing what really happened on Mount Sinai.
- Comedic Spanking: "Galactic Consumer Reports No. 2: Automatic Twin-Tube Wishing Machines" states that during the machine tests, one kid produced a spanking machine which almost killed his parents.
- Distant Reaction Shot: A non-comedic example occurs at the end of The Sheep Look Up, with people in Ireland smelling the smoke as (evidently) all of America burns.
- Downer Ending: The Sheep Look Up has possibly one of the darkest endings in any literary Science Fiction novel written at the time. In short: Austin Train dies in a terrorist bombing but not before his words (and the rapidly collapsing biosphere) encourage widespread civil unrest and revolution against the essentially fascist US of the Novel's fictional setting. Most of the main cast ends up dead and the whole novel ends with a few people in *Ireland* seeing the smoke from the American apocalypse drifting over their heads. America is effectively dead but judging by how the Mediterranean sea is completely sterilized from pollution and Southeast Asia has completely desertified due to American imperialism in the region it looks like the rest of the world is not far behind
- 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.
- Gaia's Lament: The Sheep Look Up. America is on the brink of mass famine due to widespread pollution that has become so bad that an entire generation of children are growing up with birth defects. The Oceans are dead and sterile. It is briefly mentioned that the Mekong delta is simply *gone*, the entire area completely unihabitable due to US chemical weapons used in the (then ongoing at time of writing) Vietnam War. People must wear breathmasks at all times when walking around outside in most of the world due to the air pollution, and "real" food is sold at a premium for not having been contaminated. This is just the *setting*, the rest of the novel is a series of From Bad to Worse
- Literary Allusion Title: "The hungry sheep look up, and are not fed" ("Lycidas", John Milton)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Telepathy: Explored in The Telepathist.