Best 1972 Adventures (6)

By: Joshua Glenn
October 10, 2017

One in a series of 10 posts identifying Josh Glenn’s favorite 1972 adventure novels. Happy 45th anniversary!

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John Brunner’s New Wave sci-fi adventure The Sheep Look Up.

Brunner wrote a lot of forgettable pot-boilers, and a couple of terrific books — this proto-cyberpunk eco-catastrophe is one of the latter. Raw materials are running out, and insects and micro-organisms have become resistant to efforts to eradicate them. Disaster could be averted if world governments and the wealthy were willing to make sacrifices; instead, the rich live obliviously in gated communities while the right-wing US administration, headed by an idiot president, is in thrall to corporations seeking only to maximize shareholder value. The media, meanwhile, focuses on entertainment and delivers fake news. Environmental and social-justice activists are dismissed as un-American hippies. (Yes, it’s almost too prescient.) We learn all of this through fractured vignettes about multiple characters, headlines, reports. As both government and corporate services break down, and as food is poisoned, rioting and civil unrest sweep the United States.

Fun fact: The novel’s title is a quotation from Milton’s “Lycidas.” “The hungry sheep look up, and are not fed,/But swollen with wind and the rank mist they draw,/Rot inwardly, and foul contagion spread…”

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Let me know if I’ve missed any 1972 adventures that you particularly admire. Also, please check out these additional lists. The 200 Greatest Adventure Novels of All Time. THE OUGHTS (1904–13): 1905 | 1906 | 1907 | 1908 | 1910 | 1911 | 1912 | 1913. THE TEENS (1914–23): 1915 | 1916 | 1917 | 1918 | 1920 | 1921 | 1922 | 1923. THE TWENTIES (1924–33): 1925 | 1926 | 1927 | 1928 | 1930 | 1931 | 1932 | 1933. THE THIRTIES (1934–43): 1935 | 1936 | 1937 | 1938 | 1940 | 1941 | 1942 | 1943. THE FORTIES (1944–53): 1945 | 1946 | 1947 | 1948 | 1950 | 1951 | 1952 | 1953. THE FIFTIES (1954–63): 1955 | 1956 | 1957 | 1958 | 1960 | 1961 | 1962 | 1963. THE SIXTIES (1964–73): 1964 | 1965 | 1966 | 1967 | 1968 | 1970 | 1971 | 1972 | 1973. THE SEVENTIES (1974–83): 1975 | 1976 | 1977 | 1978 | 1980 | 1981 | 1982 | 1983. The goal, eventually, is to publish a Top 10 Adventures list for every year of the 20th century.

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Adventure, Lit Lists

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