Update: Sci-fi about the social ramifications of overpopulation, a call for suggestions


I need reading suggestions.

After reading John Brunner’s Hugo winning masterpiece Stand on Zanzibar (1968) a few years back I became entranced by science fiction exploring social themes (intelligently) extrapolated from a future Earth condition of extreme overpopulation.  In the recent months I’ve read and reviewed a glut of similarly themed works of uneven quality.  Many of these works were inspired by Paul and Anne Ehrlich’s non-fiction The Population Bomb (1968) which warned of the mass starvation of humans in the 1970s and 1980s as a result of overpopulation.

The ones I’ve recently read and reviewed.

1.  Brian W. Aldiss’ Earthworks (1965), rating: 3.5/5 (Average)

Although a flawed novel, Aldiss’ future Earth is finely detailed and described.  The work suffers from a frustrating final message and a rather banal plot.  Recommended for the world alone (and those who can tolerate a jarring delivery — hallucinations, flashbacks, voiceover, etc)

2. J. G. Ballard’s High-Rise (1975), rating: 4.5/5 (Very Good)

A literarily sophisticated if mono-thematic take on the effects of living in close quarters — a spectacular and vivid depiction of the collapse (and rebirth?) of modern society.  Highly recommended.

3. T. J. Bass’ Half Past Human (1971), rating: 2.5/5 (Average)

As with Aldiss’ Earthworks the ideas are fascinating — humanity genetically modified for optimal reproduction — humanity organically mechanized.  However, the prose is downright atrocious — every sentence contains medical terminology.

4. Robert Silverberg’s The World Inside (1971), rating: 5/5 (Masterpiece)

One of my all time favorite works — trillions of humans living in gigantic urban monads (and one of the central characters is a historian!).  Highly recommended.  A dark, sublime, and thought-provoking vision…

*I’m currently trying to finish Joanna Russ’ And Chaos Died (1970) which indirectly concerns the theme — a review is forthcoming.


SO, if anyone knows of any other works exploring the effects of overpopulation please please please leave me a suggestion.  I’d GREATLY appreciate any and all suggestions!

9 thoughts on “Update: Sci-fi about the social ramifications of overpopulation, a call for suggestions

  1. Thanks! I remember your post but I didn’t know that that the undersea cities were directly related to overpopulation! Thanks again… I’ll definitely add it to my list. If anymore come to mind be sure to let me know.

  2. Harry Harrison’s MAKE ROOM! MAKE ROOM! It was later filmed as SOYLENT GREEN. The book and the movie differ somewhat.

  3. Yes, of course, I’d forgot about Harry Harrison’s famous novel! Thanks! I’ve seen the film but haven’t gotten around to reading the book. Is the book worthwhile? Is the social situation developed well?

  4. As I remember, the social situation developed well. Of course, your mileage may vary.

    I’m little ambivalent about saying yea or nay to this book. Other than BILL, THE GALACTIC HERO I haven’t gotten much pleasure out of Harrison’s writing. Then again, MAKE ROOM! seems to be considered something of semi-classic by smarter readers than myself.

    I wish I could offer you a more helpful opinion, but this is pretty much all I got on this book. 🙂

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