Jun 26

Joker's Wild!Click for larger image

Bibliomancer Comments: Philosophical question: Three people. Two bullets. Who does the Fool shoot?
Answer: He shoots the clown twice.

Published 1988

Actually, that cover IS a classical work of art!I would touch it without protective gloves.I've seen worse. Far, far, worse.Interesting, but I would still read it in public.Middlng: Neither awful nor awfully goodWould not like to be seen reading that!Awful... just awful...That belongs in a gold-lame picture frame!Gah... my eyes are burning! Feels so good!Good Show Sir! (Average: 8.06 out of 10)

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35 Responses to “The Best of John Brunner”

  1. THX 1138 Says:

    “Ay, take my wife – please! Don’t forget to tip yer waitress! Hey buddy – everyone’s a critic!”

  2. Francis Boyle Says:

    I’ve only ever read one John Brunner. And relentlessly depressing it was. So I suppose the candy colours and general foolery on display here might come in handy. On the other hand this cover is depressing enough in itself so maybe not.

  3. fred Says:

    So to extend the useless shoulder rest on his machine pistol he has to take a really big screwdriver, loosen the big screw, extend the rest and then retighten the screw. But if the rest is extendable it leaves no room for internal mechanisms in the pistol. What clown designed this?

  4. Lillie Awesome Says:

    “Sir? Excuse me, sir? I know you’re lost in a reverie right now, but there are children waiting to come down the bouncy slide, so could you please step aside? Thank you sir.”

  5. Raoul Says:

    The Punch and Judy show took an ugly turn when Punch found out Judy was two-timin’ him.

  6. B. Chiclitz Says:

    @fred—Good technical observations, though it probably doesn’t require much internal mechanism for the little flag with the word “Bang” on it to come shooting out of the barrel.

  7. JuanPaul Says:

    La commedia è finita!

  8. Bibliomancer Says:

    Assuming this fool-and-clown scene is actually in the book, I expect Barclay Shaw to be commenting shortly to tell us we’re doing this site all wrong.

  9. Tat Wood Says:

    Three people, two bullets: logically you can only shoot yourself in the head once but this is a John Brunner story so maybe the bra on the assassin’s head is a neural over-ride permitting literal overkill as an allegorical expression of mauvais foi..

  10. Alice Says:

    The jury refused to convict the fool when they found out the victim was a clown doing mime in an improv comedy club.

  11. B. Chiclitz Says:

    Be a clown, be a clown
    Get yourself on the cover
    Of a book by Brunner

    Don’t be down, be a clown
    Though GSS may mock
    The babes to you will flock

    Wear the painted face
    And the covers you will grace
    A college education I could never propose
    As long as you can sport that big red nose

    So be a clown, be a clown
    All the world loves a clown
    At least we love to shoot them down

    So be a clown!

    (apologies to Cole Porter)

  12. Francis Boyle Says:


    What you mean that circular thing on the side isn’t the control that allows you to, wait for it, “SET PHASERS TO FUN”. (I’m sure I didn’t just make that up.) Hey, maybe it’s a gun that “TURNS PEOPLE INTO CLOWNS”. (I think, I probably shouldn’t look at this cover again.

  13. Anna T. Says:

    To answer the question: the Fool should shoot the creepy-looking clown. Twice.

  14. Tag Wizard Says:

    @Anna T. – Great minds think alike. It seems Bibliomancer has already answered this ancient philosophical question.

  15. fred Says:

    If the clown in the back is singing Pagliacci while simultaneously balancing that marble on his nose I am impressed.

  16. Tom Noir Says:

    This circus has gotten tents!

  17. Bruce A Munro Says:

    The clown-jester war never ends.

  18. Tracy Says:

    Did anyone else notice the jester is wearing a sash that says POLICE? And holding a now-very-antiquated walkie talkie? What subtle or not-so-subtle comment is the artist making?

    And, the singing clown seems not to be wearing any pants!

  19. Raoul Says:

    @Tracy – In the future, mall security guards will still be police academy rejects.

  20. GSS ex-noob Says:

    The shrugging clown makes me think this title needs a question mark:
    “The Best of John Brunner?” or “The Best? of John Brunner”.

    Or possibly an emoticon:
    The Best of John Brunner ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    Agreed that this doesn’t fit at all with Brunner’s style. Was this another generic cover pressed into service?

    If jester is a good shot, he could take out the clown with one shot (that red gaping maw is a good target) and still have one left for himself. Or possibly one for clown, one for Smirky McSmug in the obligatory jumpsuit.

    (Isn’t “jumpsuit” a tag?)

  21. JuanPaul Says:

    Okay, the neon highlights under the author’s name, arching over the clown, almost look like text. Is the artist trying to tell us something?

  22. Innocent Bystander Says:

    This has got to be the most disturbing mix of the 1950s and 1980s I’ve ever seen. I think I need to go lie down now.

  23. Longtime_Lurker Says:

    [email protected]: to me they look like they spell “THE END”. I wonder was this a case of just grabbing whatever art was available?

  24. B. Chiclitz Says:

    @L_L—Very interesting observation, and perhaps quite apt, for we then have:
    “The Best of John Brunner. The End.”

    I think that about says it all.

  25. Hammy Says:

    Is that early-90s sitcom star Dave Coulier getting the girl? Hmmmm….

  26. Anna T. Says:

    @Tag Wizard: Ha! I hadn’t noticed that @Bibliomancer had already answered it that way. It’s still the right answer, though.

  27. Longtime_lurker Says:

    @BC: Yes. As Francis B said right at the start, not many laughs in the average Brunner story.

  28. B. Chiclitz Says:

    @L_L—True, although I have always thought “The Sheep Look Up” is one of the (unintentionally) funniest titles ever written, almost as funny as Bibliomancer’s Variation: “The Sheep Hook Up.”

  29. GSS ex-noob Says:

    Agreed that the highlights say “THE END”, which is undoubtedly the artist’s statement about how he was quitting art for something with fewer clowns.

    @TW: thanks for the tag addition!

  30. Longtime_lurker Says:

    Er, yes, thanks TW. I wasn’t sure for a while whether I’d made an embarrassing mistake.

  31. Tat Wood Says:

    I actually like Brunner, especially his early, funny ones. Once he started getting interviewed on BBC2 he took himself a lot more seriously, with predictable results.

  32. THX 1138 Says:

    The only Brunner I’ve read is The Sheep Look Up, which I thought was terrific, a harrowing wake up call to the planet about the devastation of the environment.

    So, er, that went well. Definitely up there with Godzilla vs the Smog Monster for creating social change.

  33. Tat Wood Says:

    @THX: but ‘The Shockwave Rider’ went viral…

  34. A.R.Yngve Says:

    Killer Klowns From Inner Space

  35. GSS ex-noob Says:

    @ARY: please accept this internet.

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