the biography of DAVID BRIN

the biography of DAVID BRIN, Ph.D.

Here are the categories for my biography:


David Brin is a scientist, speaker, technical consultant and world-known author. His novels have been New York Times Bestsellers, winning multiple Hugo, Nebula and other awards. At least a dozen have been translated into more than twenty languages.

His 1989 ecological thriller, Earth, foreshadowed global warming, cyberwarfare and near-future trends such as the World Wide Web. His 2012 novel Existence extends this type of daring, near future extrapolation by exploring bio-engineering, intelligence and how to maintain an open-creative civilization.

A 1998 movie, directed by Kevin Costner, was loosely based on The Postman.

Brin serves on advisory committees dealing with subjects as diverse as national defense and homeland security, astronomy and space exploration, SETI and nanotechnology, future/prediction and philanthropy. He has served since 2010 on the council of external advisers for NASA's Innovative and Advanced Concepts group (NIAC), which supports the most inventive and potentially ground-breaking new endeavors.

In 2013 David Brin helped to establish the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination at UCSD, where he was honored as a "distinguished alumnus" and where he was thereafter a Visiting Scholar in Residence. Other HONORS include the American Library Association's Obeler Freedom of Speech Award, the California Library Association's Zoia Horn Intellectual Freedom Award, The Potomac Institute's 2015 Navigator Award for public service, and the first annual National Endowment for the Humanities/Hannah Arendt Center Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Bard College. 2015.

His non-fiction book -- The Transparent Society: Will Technology Force Us to Choose Between Freedom and Privacy? -- deals with secrecy in the modern world. It won the Freedom of Speech Prize from the American Library Association.

As a public "scientist/futurist" David appears frequently on TV, including, most recently, on many episodes of "The Universe" and on the History Channel's best-watched show (ever) "Life After People." He also was a regular cast member on "The ArciTECHS." (For others, see "Media and Punditry.")

Brin's scientific work covers an eclectic range of topics, from astronautics, astronomy, and optics to alternative dispute resolution and the role of neoteny in human evolution. His Ph.D in Physics from UCSD - the University of California at San Diego (the lab of nobelist Hannes Alfven) - followed a masters in optics and an undergraduate degree in astrophysics from Caltech. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the California Space Institute and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. His patents directly confront some of the faults of old-fashioned screen-based interaction, aiming to improve the way human beings converse online.

David's novel Kiln People has been called a book of ideas disguised as a fast-moving and fun noir detective story, set in a future when new technology enables people to physically be in more than two places at once.

A hardcover graphic novel The Life Eaters explored alternate outcomes to WWII, winning nominations and high praise in the nation that most loves and respects the graphic novel.

David's science fictional Uplift Universe explores a future when humans genetically engineer higher animals like dolphins to become equal members of our civilization. He also recently tied up the loose ends left behind by the late Isaac Asimov. Foundation's Triumph brings to a grand finale Asimov's famed Foundation Universe.

As a speaker and on television, David Brin shares unique insights -- serious and humorous -- about ways that changing technology may affect our future lives. Brin lives in San Diego County with his wife, three children, and a hundred very demanding trees.

"The US Air Force ran a six month Delphi effort in which "Oracles" provided insight into potential futures for the USAF. The Oracles are tops in their fields, ranging from Hugo, Nebula, Campbell and Locus Award-winning science fiction writer and astrophysicist Dr. David Brin, who authored Earth, Foundation's Triumph, The Uplift War, and The Postman, to US Air Force Senior Mentor Lt Gen Mike Short, who led NATO's air campaign in the Kosovo and Serbia without single NATO casualty in combat. Many of the Oracles command a high fee for their expertise, but all worked on this project pro bono out of a sense of patriotism, academic curiosity, professional interest, friendship or some combination of the above." -- Julian Chesnutt (Department of Defense) and Timothy Mack (World Future Society)

For more about David Brin as a speaker or consultant or creativity facilitator -- including more glowing testimonials -- go to the Speaker page.

For more about David Brin's many appearances on science, nature or public policy shows, or other media, go to the Media page.


1950: Born - Glendale, California.
1973: Bachelor of Science - Caltech (astrophysics).
1973-1977: Research Engineer - Hughes Aircraft Research Labs (semiconductors/CCDs).
1975-1977: Masters in Electrical Engineering from UCSD (optics).
1980-1981: Managing editor - Journal of the Laboratory of Comparative Human Cognition (UCSD)
1981: Doctor of Philosophy, University of California - San Diego - UCSD (space physics).
1982-1985: Teaching Physics & Writing @ San Diego State University. Technical consulting.
1982-1985: Associate/Post-Doctoral Fellow - California Space Institute, UCSD, La Jolla, CA.
1988-1990: Visiting Scholar: Center for Study of Evolution of Life, Jet Propulsion Lab, NASA NSCORT for Exobiology.
1990-: Keynote speaker and consultant for more than 100 government and corporate groups. Member, board of advisors of several corporations and nonprofit institutions. Cast member, writer, participant in popular science television and radio shows. Author of fiction and nonfiction books, translated into more than 20 languages.
2010-: External adviser for NASA's Innovative and Advanced Concepts group (NIAC).
2013-: Co-founder: Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination.
2013-: Visiting Scholar in Residence, UCSD.
2015 (autumn): Visiting Scholar in Residence at Bard College.

Novels and Collections

Sundiver, First fiction sale, Bantam Books 1980 (now in 16th printing).
Startide Rising, Bantam 1983. WINNER: Nebula, Hugo, and Locus Awards for best novel (in 35th Printing.)
The Practice Effect, Bantam 1984. (10th printing.)
The Postman, Bantam (hc), 1985. NOMINEE: 1986 Nebula & Hugo Awards; WINNER: Locus & John W. Campbell Awards. American Library Assoc. "best" for young adults. Kevin Costner film 1997.
Heart of the Comet, Bantam hc (with Gregory Benford), 1986.
The River of Time, (collection) Dark Harvest (hc), 1986, Bantam 1987.
The Uplift War, Bantam 1987. NY Times Bestseller, Winner HUGO and LOCUS Awards 1988. Nebula nominee.
Earth, Bantam Spectra (hc), 1990. NOMINEE 1991 Hugo award for best novel (runner-up). NY Times Bestseller.
Glory Season, Bantam Spectra (hc), 1993. NOMINEE 1994 Hugo award for best novel.
Otherness, Bantam Spectra 1994. Story-essay collection. WINNER: LOCUS Award for Best collection, 1995.
Brightness Reef, Bantam Spectra 1995. NOMINEE 1996 Hugo award for best novel.
Infinity's Shore, Bantam Spectra 1996. Premio Italia: Best International Novel 2001.
Heaven's Reach, Bantam Spectra 1998.
Foundation's Triumph, (final book in Asimov 'foundation' series) Harper-Collins 1999.
Kiln People, Tor Books (hc) 2002. NOMINEE: Hugo Award (2nd place), Arthur C. Clarke Award (2nd place), John W. Campbell Memorial Award (2nd place)
Contacting Aliens: Illustrated Guide to David Brin's Uplift Universe, with Kevin Lenagh, Bantam 2002.
The Life Eaters, DC Comics Hardcover 2004.
Sky Horizon, Subterranean Press 2007. WINNER: Hal Clement Award for best science fiction novel for young adult readers, 2008.
Through Stranger Eyes, (collection) Nimble Press (Western Hemisphere) and Altair Australia (Eastern Hemisphere) 2008.
Existence, Tor Books 2012.
Chasing Shadows, (anthology of fiction and papers about the coming transparent world) Tor Books 2015.

Non-Fiction Books

The Transparent Society: Will Technology Force Us to Choose Between Freedom and Privacy?, 1998. Perseus Books. Winner: Obeler Freedom of Speech award, McGannon Communication Policy Research Award.

Extraterrestrial Civilization, edited by Thomas B.H. Kuiper and (Glen) David Brin, American Association of Physics Teachers, 1989.

Pathological Altruism, ed. Barbara Oakley et al. Oxford U. Press, 2012.

Changing Minds: Arguments on Contemporary and Enduring Issues. Jon Ford and Marjorie Ford, Penguin Academics Series, 2009. Chapter on the future of surveillance.

Editor, Star Wars on Trial, 2006. Benbella Books.

Editor, King Kong is Back!, 2005. Benbella Books.

Adaptations to Other Media

Film version of novel, The Postman, directed by Kevin Costner, Warner Brothers' Studios, December 1997.
Scenario for an episode of the television show Seven Days ... "Clouds". Sold in 2001.
Scripted and directed 90 page (hc) graphic novel "Forgiveness" for DC Comics, 2001.
Scripted and directed 90 page (hc) graphic novel "The Life Eaters" for DC Comics, 2003.
Audio productions of The Postman, Sundiver, The Uplift War, "The Loom of Thessaly," "The Crystal Spheres," "Toujours Voir," "Those Eyes," and "Temptation."
Film script of novel Startide Rising commissioned by Paramount Pictures.
Film script of novel Kiln People commissioned by Paramount Pictures.
Film Script of "Detritus Affected" commissioned by Sandbar Pictures.

Media and Punditry

"Explorations, station" and "NASA's Unexplained Files" (2013 through 2015)
Numerous interviews on Space, Science and information/privacy issues for BBC World Service and NPR (2000 through 2015)
The Prophets of Science Fiction" - SCI (2012)
"Alien Encounters" - SCI (2012)
Larry King Show (with Michio Kaku & Dan Ayckroyd) re "are aliens a threat?" (2010)
"First Apocalypse: What Really Killed the Dinosaurs?" - History Channel (2009)
"The Universe" (several episodes) History Channel winter/spring (2008)
"Life After People" (2008) (highest rated show ever on the History Channel)
"Beyond Belief: Enlightenment 2.0" Science Network (2007)
"The ArchiTECHS" - History Channel (2006) (to purchase a copy of the program, visit the online store)
We, the Writer - Directed by Michael Gregory (1996)
Cosmic Thoughts - directed by Mark Young (2003)
"Monster of the Milky Way" - NOVA (PBS) (2006)
Televised panel on Internet Ethics for Teens, ITV & EthiCal (2006)
"Surfing the Internet: Who's Watching? Who's Censoring?" University of San Diego Center for Ethics in Science & Technology - KPBS radio (2006) (downloadable)
History Channel: ArchiTechs (Principal Cast member)
CBS Sunday Morning
Tactical to Practical (History Channel)
Modern Marvels (History Channel)
Voice of America Live
Fast Forward
"Beyond Human" (PBS)
Closer to Truth
Life on the Internet
"Prisoners of Gravity"
Future Quest BBC Tomorrow's World
BBC's "Hyperspace" (hosted by Sam Neill)
Beyond the Galaxy
"Science of the Impossible"
And numerous morning shows and talk radio appearances

Public Speaking and Consultation

Keynote speaker at more than 100 gatherings, conferences, corporate retreats and other gatherings. (See speaking engagements for details.) Clients include:

Top level corporate talks at Google, Microsoft, Procter & Gamble, LaBatt Corporation, Imation, Swissnex, FiRe - Future in Review Conference (yearly since 2001), Qualcomm, SAP, TTI/Vanguard, Service Industry Association, Zimmer Gunsul Frasca, SAIC.

Defense-related consultations for the U.S. Air Force, CIA, National Reconnaissance Office, Defense Threat Reduction Agency, Sandia National Laboratory, "Out of the Box" Pentagon-Potomac Institute Brainstorm, Five Highlands Group conferences, Strong Angel III, Los Alamos Labs, Defense Information Systems Agency, U.S. Navy.

Information age issues: Government Communications/Info Officers' Summit '98, Library & Information Technology Association, American Library Association, Danish IT Security Council, University of Michigan School of Information Science, Woodrow Wilson Center, IPv6 Conference, MIT Media Lab, Harvard University Law School, ACM Computer Human Interface Conference, Zurich Privacy/Security Symposium, Global Privacy Summit.

Scientific Trends: US Academy of Engineering, International Conference on Complex Systems, American Association for Clinical Chemistry, NASA Conference on Exobiology, American Astronomical Society, Southern California Academy of Science, Oregon Psychological Society, Skeptic Society, Biocom, Planetary Society, Supercomputing and Petaflops Conferences, TED-MED, Future of Medicine Conference, Space Development Conference, Rutgers University, California Institute of Technology, UCSD, and numerous scientific conferences.

Future Social/Political Trends: Privacy Briefing for Congressional Staff, Progressive Policy Institute, Border Research & Technology Center, United Nations Association, World Bank International Conference on Credit Reporting, Bar Association Conference on Alternative Dispute Resolution.

Education-Related: Society of Science Educators, Library of Congress Speaker Series, MENSA Regional Gathering, UCSD Foundation, Project Inkwell.

Literary Matters: American Library Association, Saroyan Conference, Santa Barbara Writers' Conference, "1984: Orwell & Our Future" - U.Chicago Law School, and numerous literary or genre conventions.

Inventions and Patents

"Interactive communication between a plurality of users." USPTO: 7,124,372 -- October 17, 2006. (126 claims) Adapting for use online a number of characteristics of real world conversation, including the ability to participate in, perceive, control, glean subtleties and prioritize attention online.

Shorter Fiction Works

Novellas and Novelettes:

"Thor Meets Captain America" Fantasy & Sc.Fiction,'86. (2nd Place - 1987 Hugo Award)
"The Loom of Thessaly" ISAAC ASIMOV'S SF MAGAZINE (IASFM) 11/81.
"Genji" - in Murusaki, Bantam Books 1992
"The Postman" IASFM 11/82. (2nd Place-1983 Hugo Award. Brazil SFAward)
"Cyclops" IASFM 3/84. (2nd Place -- 1985 Hugo Award)
"A Stage of Memory," Fantasy & Sc.Fiction, 1986.
"Piecework" - INTERZONE, Jan. 1990.
"Dr. Pak's Preschool" - Cheap Street special ed., 1988. Fantasy & Sc.Fiction, 1989.
"Lungfish" - Published in The River of Time.
"Life in the Extrme" - POPULAR SCIENCE MAGAZINE Special Edition, 8/98.
"Stones of Significance" - 1/2000 Analog. Voted Best Novelette of 2000 by readers.
"Sky Light" - All Star Zeppelin Stories 2005.

Short Stories:

"Coexistence" IASFM May 1982. (Retitled "River of Time").
"Tank Farm Dynamo" ANALOG November 1983.
"Fourth Vocation of George Gustaf" IASFM Anthology, 1984.
"The Warm Space" Far Frontiers, Baen Books 1/85.
"The Crystal Spheres" ANALOG January 1984. WINNER -- HUGO AWARD best SF Short Story 1985.
"Bubbles" in The Universe, 1987.
"Ice Pilot" PROJECT SOLAR SAIL, 1990.
"Shhh" - AMAZING STORIES, 1988.
"The Giving Plague" - INTERZONE, 1987. 2nd Place, 1989 Hugo Award for best short story.)
"What Continues, and What Fails...", INTERZONE 1991, Full Spectrum IV, 1993 (Bantam Books)
"Detritus Affected" - F&SF 1993
"NatuLife" - F&SF
"Other Side of the Hill" - S.F. Age, 1994
"An Ever-Reddening Glow" - Analog, 1996
"Fortitude" - Science Fiction Age, 1996
"Paris Conquers All" - Fantasy and Science Fiction, 1989 (with Gregory Benford)
"Reality Check" - NATURE (science journal) 16/March 2000
"MedicineCabinet 3.5"
"Aficionado" - Popular Science Magazine special edition 1998
"The Diplomacy Guild" - Isaac's Universe 1990
"An Ever-Reddening Glow" - Analog 1996
"Fortitude" - Science Fiction Age 1996
"The Other Side of the Hill" - SF Age 1994
"I Could Have Done Better" - Indy Magazine 2002 (with Gregory Benford)
"Mars Opposition" - Analog 2005
"Vacuum Collision" - WIRED Magazine 2006
"Shoresteading" - Jim Baen's Universe 2008

Popular Science Articles and Publications

"Professionalization vs. The Age of Amateurs."
"Is Privacy Finished?" Salon Magazine.
"Altruism - Is It Universal Among Intelligent Species?" Lifeboat Foundation.
"Shall we shout into the Cosmos?" Lifeboat Foundation.
"The Great Silence: The Controversy Concerning Extraterrestrial Life." Q. J. Royal Astron. Society 1983.
"The Deadly Thing at 2.4 Kiloparsecs." ANALOG 1984.
"How Dangerous is the Galaxy?" ANALOG June 1985.
"Forget Warp Drive. Can Science Give us the Stars for Real?," interview in Science Fiction Age, March 1995.
"Xenology: The New Science of Asking Who's Out There." ANALOG 1983.

Political, Literary and Social Commentary

Invited reviewer for the Los Angeles Times Book Review, the Times (London), the New Scientist (London), the San Diego Union etc. Books reviewed include: Collapse by Jared Diamond, No Place to Hide by Robert O'Harrow, The Progress Paradox by Gregg Easterbrook, River of Shadows by Rebecca Solnit, plus many others, fiction and nonfiction.

"Harnessing Conflict and Competitiveness for Society's Benefit" - lead article in the American Bar Association's Journal on Dispute Resolution (Ohio State University), v.15, N.3, pp 597-618, Aug. 2000.

"Beleaguered Professionals vs. Disempowered Citizens - Foundation for the Future 2003.

"An Incautious and Heretical Appraisal of J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings" - Salon Magazine (cover). Dec 2002.

"Star Wars despots vs. Star Trek populists" - nostalgic fantasy vs belief in progress - Salon Magazine (cover). 1999.

"Zero Sum Elections and the Electoral College" - Liberty Magazine, 5(6) July 1992.

"The Threat of Aristocracy" - political commentary in Liberty Magazine, May 1994.

"Of Elves and Aliens" - OMNI Magazine, June 1994.

"The Internet as a Commons" - Information Technology & Libraries, 14(4) Dec. 1995.

"Privacy is History--Get Over It" - Interview in WIRED Magazine, February 1996.

"Avoiding Fatal Errors: The Future of Civilization and the Internet" - INTERNET LIFE MAGAZINE, DEC 1999.

"Tomorrow's World: The Odd Way We Design Our Destiny" - Netscape/ALO iPlanet Magazine, early 2000.

"Probing the Near Future" - Netscape/ALO iPlanet Magazine, early 2000.

"Can Human Beings Achieve Immortality?" - Netscape/ALO iPlanet Magazine, early 2000.

"Proxy Power: a couch potato's guide to saving the world" - Amazon Shorts 2005.

"The New Philanthropy: Horizons of Perception" - Philanthropy Roundtable.

Contributor to Eaton Conferences on science fiction as a literary genre.

Games and Other Diversions

TRIBES. A game about life & reproduction 50,000 years ago. Steve Jackson Games. 1998.

GURPS Uplift. Legendary role-playing supplement.

Kiln Wars. Game version of Kiln People, reserved from Paramount film contract.

ECCO THE DOLPHIN. Created scenario for advanced version of popular computer game. 1998 Dreamcast.

The Exorarium. Simulates the origin and evolution of life, in order to teach topics ranging from astronomy to biology and climatology to sociology.

Scientific and Academic Papers

Complete listing available on request. Topics include:

"Self-Addiction and Self-Righteousness," in Pathological Altruism, ed: Oakley, Knafo, Madhavan and Wilson, Oxford U. Press (2012)

Evolution of Cometary Nuclei as Influenced by a Dust Component. Doctoral Dissertation for the University of California, San Diego March 1981

astronautics (NASA-funded studies with California Space Institute, regarding robotics & space station design.)

optics & theory of polarized light (e.g. APPLIED OPTICS Vol.18, 2990-2991, 1979.)

nature & activity of comets Doctoral Dissertation, plus papers in ASTROPHYSICAL JOURNAL.

astronomical and philosophical questions posed by SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) -- major review in Quarterly Journal of Royal Astronomical Society, fall1983, v.24, pp.283-309.) plus many others.

"Neoteny and Two-Way Sexual Selection in Human Evolution: Paleo-Anthropological Speculation." (J. of Social and Evolutionary Systems, vol.18(3) pp.257-276, January 1996.)

"Disputation Arenas: Harnessing Conflict and Competition for Society's Benefit," American Bar Association Journal on Dispute Resolution (Ohio State University), V.15, N.3, pp 597-618, August 2000.

"Singularities & Nightmares: the Range of Our Futures," in Nanotechnology Perceptions: A Review of Ultraprecision Engineering and Nanotechnology, Vol.2, N.1, March 2006.

For access to abstracts or whole documents please visit my ResearchGate Site.

Honors and Offices

2105 Potomac Institute Navigator Award for pioneering explorations of possible paths into the future
2015 The first annual National Endowment for the Humanities/Hannah Arendt Center Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Bard College
2013 The Zoia Horn Intellectual Freedom Award of the California Library Association
UCSD Distinguished Alumnus
Member of the External Council for NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program (2011- )
Advisory Board of Planetary Society, 1997-, Opion Corp., Blastoff! Corp., Center for Responsible Nanotechnology
Guest of Honor, World Science Fiction Convention, Yokohama Japan 2007
Nominee for John W. Campbell award for best new author of 1982
Nominee/Winner of "Hugo" International Science Fiction Achievement Award (^=winner, *=2nd Place)
      Novel Category - 1984^, 1986*, 1988^, 1991*, 1993, 1996, 2002*
      Novella Category - 1984* & 1985*
      Novelette Category - 1987*
      Short Story Category - 1985^ & 1989
Nominee/Winner of Nebula Award, Novel Category - 1984^, 1986 & 1988
Winner of Locus & John W. Campbell awards for best novel, 1986. Locus for best novel, 1988. Best single author collection, 1995
Secretary: Science Fiction Writers of America, 1982-84
Freedom of Speech Award of the American Library Association, McGannon Communication Policy Research Award for Transparent Society


Center for Responsible Nanotechnology, Lifeboat Foundation, Foresight Institute, Philanthropy Forum, Prediction Markets Forum, Speculation Speakers (co-founder), Strategic News Service, Future in Review.

Personal Information

Married to Dr. Cheryl Ann Brigham. Three children, Benjamin (1992), Ariana (1994), Terren (1996).

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Contact David Brin by email.