JKB - The John Brunner Archive - 1946-2008

Both Brunner's Science Fiction and non-Science Fiction works are represented in the collection. The fiction element consists of four hundred and seven typescripts of John Brunner's works. Ninety Seven of these are novels, novellas and collections of short stories (83 published, 14 unpublished). Thir...

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Main Creator: Brunner, John Killian Houston
Other Creators: Dick, Philip
Archive level description: Sub-fonds
Physical Description:125 boxes
Summary:Both Brunner's Science Fiction and non-Science Fiction works are represented in the collection. The fiction element consists of four hundred and seven typescripts of John Brunner's works. Ninety Seven of these are novels, novellas and collections of short stories (83 published, 14 unpublished). Thirty five are outlines/synopses for novels. The remaining 261 are short stories (153 of which are published, 108 unpublished). In addition to these are numerous collections of poetry and songs (some of which appear to have been published in a regular magazine column); TV, Film and radio work (some of which are adaptations of his own short stories); translations by John Brunner and 14 of Brunner's science fiction awards. The non-fiction element consists of two hundred and sixty-seven typescripts, thirty seven of these are Brunner's speeches and non-fiction radio and TV broadcasts, and two hundred and thirty typescripts are articles, reviews and fanzines (including fanzine articles and some work connected to writing workshops that Brunner led). In addition there are ninety-four crosswords, various cyphers and quiz questions and notes and proposals compiled by Brunner for anthologies of other authors' work. Brunner also kept many newspaper articles, reviews and credentials mentioning his work; one hundred and forty seven of these are in the collection alongside forty-four journals also containing his work (Links are provided within the hand-list when there is both a publication and a typescript of the same work in the collection). There is also a small collection of business papers, made up of 14 items concerning publication details of some of Brunner's novels and letters relating to the folk music societies that he was involved with.
Reference Number:JKB
Access Conditions:Access is open to bona fide researchers. Access to some items is restricted.

The collection is arranged between 4 main elements:

  • JKB-1 Fiction which includes
    • Novels, Collected Short Stories, Novels and Novellas
    • Short Stories
    • Poetry and Songs
    • Television Film and Radio Work
    • Translations
    • Jokes
    • Awards
  • JKB-2 Non-Fiction which includes
    • Speeches and Broadcasts
    • Articles, Reviews and Fanzines
    • Miscellaneous
    • Crosswords Cyphers and Quizzes
    • Anthologies
  • JKB-3 Clippings and Typescripts, which includes
    • Clippings and Typescripts
    • Publications
  • JKB-4 Business Papers,which includes
    • Status Reports and Letters
    • Societies

[Note: Many items are not dated and are therefore listed in alphabetical order. Where dates are apparent, items are listed in date order.]

Related Material:

Obituaries from The Guardian and The Independent are located in the folders of news material, kept in the Science Fiction stacks.

Foundation: the international review of science fiction, number 69, Spring 1997, is dedicated to the memory of John Brunner.

Access Restrictions:Reproduction and licensing rules available on request.
Bibliography:[Book] Bleiler, E L. 1985. Science Fiction Writers: Critical Studies of the Major Authors from the Early Nineteenth Century to the Present Day.
[Book] Clute, John & Nicholls, Peter. 1993. The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.
[Book] DeBolt, Joseph. 1975. he Happening Worlds of John Brunner: Critical Explorations in Science Fiction.
[Book] Watson, Noelle & Schellinger, Paul E. 1991. Twentieth Century Science Fiction Writers.
Biographical/Administrative Information:

John Kilian Houston Brunner was born in Oxfordshire, England on September 24th 1934, the great-grandson of the founder of the large chemical company Brunner-Mond Ltd. He started writing SF at an early age, receiving a rejection from British Astounding aged thirteen, as the publication did not buy original material. Brunner's first paperback novel, Galactic Storm, written under the pseudonym Gill Hunt, was published when he was seventeen although later in his life he would not acknowledge it. He refused two offers of scholarships at Oxford and spent two unhappy years in the RAF before becoming a full-time freelance writer in 1958.

During the next six years Ace published twenty seven novels by John Brunner. These novels were primarily hard-SF and space operas. He was involved with the SF scene, regularly attending meetings of the London SF Circle at the Globe pub and exchanging ideas with Arthur C Clarke, William F Temple, Walter Gillings, E C Tubb and various American writers. Brunner and his first wife Marjorie became involved in the British nuclear disarmament movement and Brunner travelled extensively with CND caravans. It was whilst employed as a CND observer at the Moscow Peace Congress that he met the Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin. His later protests at the USSR's explosion of the 100 mega-ton bomb saw an end to invitations to the Russian Embassy.

Brunner and Marjorie also shared an active interest in the Folk music scene. In the late 1950's Brunner was London correspondent for a New York based folk music fanzine and briefly ran a science fiction and folk music fanzine himself. Later in life, Marjorie founded music festivals in the South West of England and after her death Brunner continued to sponsor them in her memory. Throughout his life Brunner composed folk music, often combining science fiction themes and folk tunes together. One of these compositions was the CND marching song, The H-Bomb's Thunder which was sung on the first Aldermaston march in 1959.

Brunner's output of written work was prolific. Amongst other written work, he produced a large amount of proposals for TV and film projects, with some early successes. In 1967 Brunner adapted a novel of Murray Leinster into the script for the film The Terrornauts and in 1969 Brunner contributed an episode to the critically acclaimed BBC2 television series Out of the Unknown, which was based on his story The Last Lonely Man. He also advised the plot of the now cult sci-fi musical film Tomorrow in 1969. However, despite working on film and TV projects with the producers Sandy Lieberson and Roberta Leigh, these successes were not continued.

Brunner's masterpiece Stand on Zanzibar , was published in 1968 and won a Hugo award in the same year. In 1970 it was awarded the British Science Fiction Award followed by the Prix Apollo for the French translation in 1973. Stand on Zanzibar signified a stylistic change for Brunner, shown by his use of dystopian themes and criticisms of society, continued in The Sheep Look Up and Jagged Orbit. He also created the character of Max Curfew and devoted a series of novels to him. Brunner spent 1970 publishing non-SF novels and poetry and ended the year by becoming one of the vice-presidents of the newly-founded Science Fiction Foundation. The Foundation was housed in the Department of Applied Philosophy in the North East London Polytechnic, with Arthur C Clarke as its patron and James Blish and Kenneth Bulmer ranking alongside Brunner. He wrote the first article to appear in Foundation, the Science Fiction Foundation's journal.

Brunner's run of success continued. The Jagged Orbit was nominated for the Nebula Award in the US and won the British Science Fiction Award in 1971. In 1972 he became Chairman of the British Science Fiction Association and also writer in residence at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. Another Nebula nomination followed in 1973 for The Sheep Look Up.

Financial troubles in the first half of the 1970's saw Brunner return to writing space operas, but they were not in the same vein as the earlier Ace publications. The Great Steamboat Race, a non SF novel intended to revive his career did not meet with the critical acclaim expected.

The last twenty or so years of Brunner's life were plagued by ill health and disputes with publishers. Despite this, his creative output remained as prolific as before. Brunner has often been described as a difficult man; this trait can be attributed to his perfectionism and passion for the subjects he wrote about and causes he believed in. Although he did not enjoy the same critical success in the latter part of his career as he had with Zanzibar, he continued to write S.F. and non-S.F. novels and poetry and contribute to magazines and newspapers.

John Brunner suffered a stroke in a Glasgow hotel whilst attending the 53rd World Science Fiction Convention. He died the following day, 25th August 1995. He is survived by his second wife Li Yi Tan Brunner, whom he married in 1991.