DAVID BRIN's novels and books reviewed

selected reviews of DAVID BRIN novels & books

The Postman

"I quite enjoyed this novel and found it uplifting in the message of a regular man who had greatness thrust upon him and came to realize that he had to take responsibility. The movie, starring Kevin Costner, is also good but diverges a good bit from the book, especially in the second half. As is often the case, the book is better." -- Amazon.com customer review

"One of my favorites from the Science Fiction genre. It is amazing (and frightening) how in many ways it parallels our current political/societal discourse. Society in The Postman is in shambles and is polarized to the extreme. There are two types of people in this novel: 1.) Those who survive at any cost, who haughtily mock and murder those innocents that cross their path (perhaps in a subconscious play of survival of the fittest i.e. survive or die becomes kill or be killed) and 2.) Those who struggle onward attempting to hold onto the shreds of community, society, and decency that survives the fallout.
         "Our modern day struggles may not be born of a disaster of epic proportions, but more than ever do I see these two conflicting archetypes emerging in our own society as it becomes increasingly polarized. The harsh survivalists... the counter to the Musketeers 'All for one. One for all' bent on their own self-interest and independence versus the weak who gather as beacons of community and the champions of mans responsibility towards their fellow man. On which side do you lay? Which side will survive the struggle in the end?" -- Goodreads community review

Earth

"Earth raises a lot of issues about the environment, the supposed superiority of humankind, the interconnectedness of all living things, the individual's right to privacy, and much more. Lots of food for thought and a fantastic book for discussion (I read this for a book discussion group, and I can't wait to hear what everyone else has to say about it). I haven't read anything else by David Brin, but after reading Earth, I definitely want to." -- Amazon.com customer review

"Weaving an epic of complex dimensions, Brin (Startide Rising) plaits initially divergent story lines, all set in the year 2038, into an outstandingly satisfying novel. At the center is a type of mystery: after a failed murder attempt, a group of people try to save the victim, recover the murder weapon, identify the guilty party and fend off other assassins, all the while being led through n + 1 plot twists -- each with a sense of overhanging doom, because the intended victim is Gaea, Earth herself. The struggle to save the planet gives Brin the occasion to recap recent global events: a world war fought to wrest all caches of secret information from the grip of an elite few; a series of ecological disasters brought about by environmental abuse; and the effects of a universal interactive data network on beginning to turn the world into a true global village. Fully dimensional and engaging characters with plausible motivations bring drama to these scenarios. Brin's exciting prose style will probably make this a Hugo nominee, and will certainly keep readers turning pages. " -- Publishers Weekly

"Brin is a physicist of note who has been a NASA consultant, and he knows how to turn the abstractions of particle physics into high adventure without resorting to the time-saving but unconvincing tricks of Star Trek-style space operas. He excels at the essential craft of the page-turner, which is to devise an elegantly knotted plot that yields a richly variegated succession of high-impact adventures undergone by an array of believably heroic characters. Overall, Earth resembles Herman Wouk's The Winds of War, except that the history Brin is dramatizing, though also on a similar global scale, is of his own imagining" -- Thomas M. Disch, EW.com

"This book is a treasure. It drastically changed my worldview and made me come to see the urgency of some of the issues facing our generation. One of Brin's concepts has actually become a major piece of my belief system. Besides all of this serious stuff... this is a damn fun book to read that you will not put down until you are finished!" -- Goodreads community review

Existence

"Science fiction fans were finally given what they crave: Real science explained and possible science dreamed, all wrapped up in an excellent story. After reading it, you feel like you've done an A-level and experienced a cultural event. Daring yet plausible, challenging yet rewarding, it raised the bar for grown-up alien contact sci-fi." -- The Sun (UK) Best of 2012

"Set mostly in the mid-twenty-first century (though the plot extends for several decades), Existence is, among other things, a veritable encyclopedia of SF concepts and subgenres. An inventive alien-contact story lies at the heart of the novel, while much of its science-fictional technology derives from the legacy of cyberpunk but moves beyond most cyberpunk to contemplate the potential of a genuinely posthuman future. Along the way, Brin also injects elements of political intrigue, space opera, media satire, class warfare, and post-disaster (economic, environmental, and nuclear) recovery efforts." -- Los Angeles Review of Books

"Existence is a book that makes you think deeply about both the future and life's most important issues. I found it fascinating and I could not put it down." -- Temple Grandin, author of Thinking in Pictures

"If you are among those who have complained that there is insufficient hard science fiction, imagining a future that is a realistic extrapolation based on what we now think are genuine possibilities and genuine constraints, David Brin's novel Existence may be what you have been longing for." -- Patheos

"So, if you like thinking about Big Ideas in novel form, buy Existence. And, if you would like to retain the Fair Information Principles in a near future of surveillance in public, consider Brin more carefully when you imagine how life will and should be in the coming decades." -- Peter Swire, Concurring Opinions

"I would consider Existence to be a triumphant, epic Science Fiction novel on many levels. It stayed with me after I set it aside for the day, continues to simmer in my mind now that I've finished reading it, and has opened up a gateway to Brin's novels I'd wanted to enter for a while. Brin achieved an excellent gestalt of character, big ideas, and narrative energy. Existence is my top SF novel of 2012 and I recommend it without hesitation." -- Rob H. Bedford at SFFWorld.com

"But admirers of this type of novel -- and I'm one -- can take renewed hope with the appearance of David Brin's Existence. It's an overt claimant to the [Stand on] Zanzibar throne, and a worthy one, Version 2.0 of his similar performance in 1990's Earth." -- Paul Di Filippo, in BarnesandNobleReview.com

"Science fiction is as much a literature of the moment as it is of the future. This book, then, is both a warning and an encouragement: a novel that engages with the world we're building and tries to show us a way to become a mature civilisation rather than a raggle-taggle band of individuals. Technology has libertarian roots, but in the end we build the tools that construct a civil society. In Existence Brin shows us the world our technology is building, and then poses one of the biggest questions: what is it all for?" -- ZD Net

"Some books make grand claims in their titles that seem impossible to satisfy — but David Brin's Existence is completely justified. The award-winning futurist (his other novels include Earth and The Postman) is interested in nothing less than humanity's past, present and future in his complex new novel.... Whodunits are a sure thing in publishing — just about everyone loves a good mystery — but Brin's multifaceted novel proves that another question resonates just as powerfully with most people: Are we alone in the universe?" -- Los Angeles Times

"(Existence is) all about the chaos and passion of adolescence — the designs we make for our lives when we're young, before unforeseeable events send us spinning into strange new orbits.... It also proposes that the best way to confront these answers is deeply human: to be creative, diverse, compromising, curious. That to reach Heaven — or something like it — requires that we look beyond ourselves, beyond humanity (all six species of it), and into the universe beyond." -- io9

"Featuring memorable characters and masterly storytelling, Brin's latest novel provides food for thought and entertainment. Fans of Vernor Vinge and Arthur C. Clarke, as well as Brin's own sizable fan base, will enjoy this multidimensional story." -- Library Journal starred review

"Brin's thoughtful, multilayered story explores a first contact scenario where every twist reveals greater peril. His longtime fans will especially appreciate that this story could be read as a prequel to 1983's Startide Rising, while those not familiar with his work will find it an impressive introduction to one of SF's major talents." -- Publisher's Weekly starred pick of the week

"Brin's narrative navigates the globe as his large cast of characters deals with the prospect of what the aliens have to offer. There are shocks to come, including the existence of competing artifacts (these aliens are a contentious lot), as well as the disturbing possibility that it may all be a hoax." -- Metroactive

"Ultimately, the book is a call to explore and delight in not only the beauty and the diversity of the entire universe, but especially our own home planet and all that reside here." -- The Emporia Gazette

"Brin tackles a plethora of cutting-edge concepts — such as the Fermi paradox, the ascent of artificial intelligence, and the evolution of technologically enhanced humanity — with the skill of a visionary futurologist, and while his extended cast of characters is set up to articulate ideas, they come to life as distinct individuals. If he does resort to long info-dumps, it's necessary in order to convey the depth and breadth of his startling future. Existence is Brin's first novel in 10 years, and it's been well worth the wait." -- The Guardian

"In Existence, David Brin takes on one of the fundamental themes in science fiction--and what is also one of the fundamental questions humanity faces in this century. Since Brin is both a great storyteller and one of the most imaginative writers around, Existence is not to be missed." -- Vernor Vinge, bestselling author of Fire Upon the Deep and The Children of the Sky

"Take a world soaked in near-future strangeness and complexity... Add a beautiful alien artifact that turns out to be the spearpoint of a very dangerous, very ancient invasion... Hotwire with wisdom and wonder... Existence is as urgent and as relevant as anything by Stross or Doctorow, but with the cosmic vision of Bear or Benford. Brin is back." -- Stephen Baxter, bestselling author of Ark and The Time Ships

Kiln People

"Brin deftly explores the issues of identity, privacy and work in a world where everyone is supported with a living wage and has ready access to duplication technology. The book features the author's usual style, with a lighter touch and punnish humor abounding amid the hard SF speculation. The duplication of the "ditective" makes for a challenging twist on the standard private eye narrative, allowing Morris to simultaneously lead the reader through three separate (and interacting) plot lines." -- Publisher's Weekly

"More than any writer I know, David Brin can take scary, important problems and turn them sideways, revealing wonderful opportunities. This talent shows strongly in Kiln People, a novel which is deep and insightful and often hilarious, all at the same time." --Vernor Vinge

"This is a fun novel, rich with ideas, that examines on a very human level the ramifications and side effects of our ambitions and the things we take for granted. It's also a hard-boiled murder mystery with levels of physics and metaphysics that work your brain. But for me, as always, it's David Brin's characters that really pull me into the story and keep me up until three in the morning." -- The Barnes and Noble Review

"Be careful what you wish for: being two places at once may create as many problems as it solves. David Brin unflinchingly serves up a giddy, thoughtful, and darkly comic future." -- Wil McCarthy

"I was struck by the ease with which Brin switched perspectives from one Ditto to the other, all originally from the same user. How their thoughts after initially waking into this world were all the same, and how they grew into their own personalities by the end of their life span. Each time a ditto expired... well, you're a little saddened by it, and a bit surprised by how haphazardly they are treated by both their users and by other 'real people'.
         "That thought is the major 'meat' of this novel.
         "Anyway, I enjoyed 'Kiln People'. Another book that shall remain on my shelf for years to come." -- Chris Mullins, Amazon.com reviews

Sundiver

"David Brin writes science fiction the way it should be written -- with imagination, heroic characters, and the triumph of all that is good in the human spirit. Sundiver is a prime example of how good Brin's books can be." -- Amazon.com customer review

"The central concept in Sundiver is an interesting and clever one: all intelligent races in the galaxy have been uplifted to sentience by a parent race, although humanity is the exception to this as it appears they haven't. What they have done though is uplift two of Earth's other animals to sentience, the Dolphin and Chimpanzee, and in doing so have become a parent race themselves. With this done before they were discovered by the other races of the galaxy, humanity have been given a status that some within the galactic society believe they are not worthy of." -- Walker of Worlds

"... I dig it because I'm into books on animal intelligence, transhuman SF, etc... and it's a great spin on the evolution/creation debate. Sundiver is actually a murder mystery... complete with a 'parlor reveal' scene. There also is an interesting political argument about psychological profiling, surveillance and citizenship (if we can prove some people are biologically/psychological sociopath/violent/whatever... what do we do about it, if we can't fix them?)" -- Goodreads community review

Startide Rising

"... Brin leaves the reader thinking, 'What a great story. Tell me another!' Startide Rising is Brin's best work, worthy of every award it has received. Read it, and you will be delighted and satisfied. But be warned: you will then want to read everything else he has written." -- Amazon.com customer review

"Guys, this is why I read Science Fiction. I'm a sucker for a big, thick novel with big ideas and cool galaxy spanning concepts. This book had it in spades. It's not an easy read, and it's certainly not for everyone, but it really hit all the right notes for me. It's why I consider it an Elitist Classic." -- Elitist Classics review

"The idea of Uplift, in which intelligence is not evolved but handed down from a patron species to a client species by genetic engineering, is nothing less than brilliant: it's a concept that introduces a galactic society that is diverse, believable, and, as we come to realize, fraught with danger for us human outsiders, and one that dramatizes heady philosophical questions about the universe." -- Goodreads community review

"An intense ride of a book -- the battle overhead, the intense interpersonal conflicts down on the planet. Brin once again brings the weird alien mysteries that I love -- what exactly are the drill trees and metal mounds? He still hasn't answered 'did humanity have a patron?' and added the new one of 'who is Herbie and what is up with the derelict fleet?'" -- Goodreads community review

The Uplift War

"The idea behind this series is imaginative and far reaching, and if The Uplift War is typical of what to expect in this series, I will soon be purchasing more of David Brin's work." -- Amazon.com customer review

"This time the events that are occurring in Startide Rising have caused some hostile species to move directly against humanity and their children sentients the dolphins and chimpanzees. A colony world is conquered and the governors son goes into hiding with the daughter of the ambassador of one of the few friendly alien species. They join forces with the few remaining free chimpanzees and start a guerrilla war to take back the world (don't look at me, it's Brin's pun)." -- Das Übernerd

"I read this book for my book club, and it led to one of the best discussions we've ever had. David Brin is the Jackson Pollock of science-fiction, he just grabs a bunch of science-y ideas, mixes them all up, and splatters them all over his pages." -- Goodreads community review

Brightness Reef

"Brin is a fantastic author, who has created a dense, complex futureverse with generally amusing alien races and uplifted Earth races, who amuse even during the most dramatic events. The crux of the story is how does mankind carve out an autonomous existence in the face of alien races with much more advanced technology? Who assists them and what odds do they overcome to succeed?" -- Amazon.com customer review

"Briefly, the main premise of the 'Uplift' universe is that all sapient races were 'uplifted' to intelligence by genetic modifications performed by an older 'Patron' race, in a genealogical sequence stretching back millions of years to the fabled Progenitors. Galactic society is a complex web of alliances, mainly based on the ties of Patron races to their 'Clients' (who are bound to patrons for a period of 'indenture' after their uplift). The alliances seem to differ on such issues as permissible degrees of genetic alteration of clients (some Patrons unethically modify their clients for excessive servility, for instance), proper length of indenture periods, and degree of respect (or worship) for the (long-disappeared) Progenitors. One of the main economic forces in this Universe is the struggle for rights to new potential clients (pre-sapient races). I think this set-up is one of the most original and interesting SF ideas of recent times, in particular with regard to establishing a (somewhat) believable Multi-Race Galactic society." -- SFF.net

"While the narrative does not so much conclude as simply stop in midstream, it describes a universe that's immensely appealing, leaving readers hungry for more of this exciting, epic adventure." -- Publishers Weekly

"The traeki fascinate me. Brin is very talented at coming up with unique species that are not merely humanoid stand-ins, and the traeki are a great example. Apparently they are the same as the Jophur, antagonists in previous books, but they are peaceful. Each individual traeki body is made up of 'rings' that have different skill sets and traits; the rings together form a sort of group-mind that acts based upon consensus. So a single traeki can swap out rings and become a slightly different person in the process. Asx is the traeki sage, and his perspectives are little more than pithy ruminations upon the current action. Yet even in such brevity, glimpses into the traeki mind was still cool." -- Goodreads community review

Infinity's Shore

"The writing (and presentation) is clean, and the story moves along at a quick pace. The aliens initially seem anthropomorphic, but subtly shift in ones perception into truly alien characters. The only comparable work regarding complex interstellar alien conflict is the excellent Chanur series by C.J. Cherryh. In my opinion, with the exception of The Uplift War, this series is better.
         "Many hard science fiction books, with the exception of those by Greg Bear and Gregory Benford, fail to connect the cosmic happenings to a believable personal level. This work, and this book, succeed in that endeavor. If you want exciting, thought provoking, and moving hard science fiction with characters you care about, then you should buy this book." -- Amazon.com customer review

"Once again, Brin has created a successful mix of social speculation and hard SF that puts him in the honorable company of such authors as Charles Sheffield and Gregory Benford. Undeniably, this is demanding SF; but just as undeniably, it is superior SF as well." -- Publishers Weekly

"I suppose you could call this book 'apocalyptic' in the sense that the Sacred Scrolls of the Jijoan sooners have always predicted a 'Judgement Day' from above. Now it's come, and everything is going to hell, because you know what? When starships descend from on high, suddenly all those sacred stanzas just don't quite prepare you for the sheer pants-soiling, hoof-tripping, wheel-blocking, claw-catching terror of the moment." -- Goodreads community review

Heaven's Reach

"Heaven's Reach is, by far, the most wildly inventive of the six Uplift novels. Ideas that would fill up other novels, or entire trilogies, rocket past the reader at a rate of knots: the Fractal World (a fresh spin on the Dyson Sphere idea), a cluster of space habitats circling a white dwarf so fast that time slows down, memetic entities, hydrogen-based lifeforms and many more concepts are on display here, Brin unleashing them with fiendish glee. The Uplift universe has already been established as a colourful, epic setting packed with thousands of sentient races and lots of cool ideas, but Heaven's Reach brings it up to the next level and does so in a readable, gripping manner." -- Amazon.com customer review

"Take it from me, the book is jam-packed with incidents like no other since Dan Simmon's first two Hyperion books. Brin makes sure the reader arrives at the end breathless and more than a little emotionally burnt out. Satisfaction is there, too, that Heaven's Reach supplies a good closure to the main story of Streaker, though there are enough loose ends to fill a third trilogy of books, if Brin so wishes." -- Infinity Plus

"An excellent ending to a challenging series. Leaves things open for more stories if Brin ever wanted to revisit all these years later. The concepts are mind-blowing while still grounding much of the story in characterization even when -- or, perhaps, especially -- dealing with interspecies relations. Enjoyed the ride!" -- Goodreads community review

Foundation's Triumph

"While I will generally never read additional novels not by the original writer, I decided to give these a shot because I also had read Benford, Bear, and Brin (Brin being one of my favorite authors). They are very well done and give a satisfaction to those who felt left hanging by many loose ends in the Foundation series. Brin's novel I feel was the best of the three." -- Amazon.com customer review

"While Benford and Bear introduced many concepts which were foreign to Asimov's universe, David Brin has provided a worthy successor to Asimov's works in the form of Foundation's Triumph. What Brin seems to have done, is gone back and re-read the 14 novels and myriad short stories Asimov wrote, along with the related novels written by Roger MacBride Allen, Gregory Benford and Greg Bear. While reading, Brin seems to have compiled a list of all the incompatibilities and questions which occurred in the books. With master-craftsman skill, Brin has managed to write a relatively short novel which addresses all of these issues and provides reasonable explanations for nearly all of them.
         "In fact, while knowledge of Asimov's books is essential for reading and understanding Foundation's Triumph, the reader does not necessarily have to be familiar with the earlier books in the Second Foundation trilogy to enjoy Brin's novel. Certainly, some of the events which occurred in Foundation's Fear and Foundation and Chaos form the background to Foundation's Triumph, but their importance can be gleaned from the context Brin includes." -- SFsite.com review

"Yes, the repeated casual allusions to Asimov's work are wonderful. The ability to fit things in with Asimov's world is wonderful. But most wonderful of all is that Brin has managed to write a story which develops the Foundation in a direction consistent with the way Asimov worked himself when he wrote and overcome some of the problems that the Good Doctor's later Foundation books introduced.
         "And like any good writer, Brin has left the door open for sequels. In particular, what will happen after the end of Foundation and Earth, when Daneel finds himself suddenly confronted with people from his own past? And there's the story of how Gaia fails to develop yet to write.
         "I should point out that Brin even integrates Asimov's other fiction in a fashion consistent with the way the Good Doctor did it: old stories, even legends, handed down and possibly distorted over the age but stumbled across (or cherished) by our heroes." -- Asimovreviews.net

Glory Season

"Brin's handling of this material is cool and rational. While he criticizes some of the weaknesses of Stratos life, he also makes as good a case for its viability and benefits as might any feminist." -- Publishers Weekly

"The colonists of Stratos are genetically modified so that both genders have "rutting" seasons, much like other mammals. However, these seasons are offset from each other, so that whenever one side is interested, the other could care less. This causes procreation to be much more a matter of barter and economics than love, impulse, etc. Also, the women are capable of conceiving normally or of bearing a child that is a clone of themselves.
         "From these premises, Brin builds a fascinating culture -- one that is conservative and enduring.
         "Set against this backdrop is a familiar storyline, of a smart young innocent setting out on her own, witnessing things that were meant to remain secret, and getting swept up in the midst of intrigue and adventure. Given the low tech level of Stratos, the story often feels like a standard adventure set in pre-industrial times. However, the depth of the setting, and the differences in attitude and philosophy of the characters, keeps the whole thing feeling novel and interesting." -- Amazon.com customer review

"David Brin relentlessly develops this big idea, to see exactly where it takes him. He follows it through the sciences, to see where it takes him: biology, sociology, psychology, and more. By pursuing this idea so relentlessly, he constructs a society that is very alien to our own (uncomfortably so, in cases) but yet is still very recognizable." -- Goodreads community review

Heart of the Comet

"A literary conjunction of two of the brightest stars in the science-fiction firmament. In Heart of the Comet, we have it all, the techno-props and accurate physics and biology of John W. Campbell, the heroic battles with outrageous monsters of Robert E. Howard, the insights into seething human perversity of J.G. Ballard and Thomas M. Disch, the characterizational depth of Theodore Sturgeon, all of it wrapped in a scientifically plausible and entertaining package that should not be missed. Heart of the Comet should be on everyone's award ballot." -- Los Angeles Times

"A magnificent effort . . . their story gets better, and better, and better." -- Locus

"Tremendously imaginative . . . a breathtaking effort from two of science fiction's brightest stars." -- The San Diego Union

The Practice Effect

"Gee, not every SF book has to be a deep exploration of the limits of the genre. Sometimes you just like to kick back and enjoy yourself. This is exactly what this book is, and it's a great read, fast and fun at the same time, while still throwing up some interesting concepts." -- Amazon.com customer review

"David Brin's The Practice Effect is the reason I began reading everything I could find by this author. Brin has taken a single premise (what if one of the laws of thermodynamics were repealed?), and woven it into a clever tale of a world of practical magic.... Further, the central concept of the novel makes explicit the crucial difference between creators and users." -- blogcritics.org

"It started off feeling a lot like John Carter from A Princess of Mars meets A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. By the end I added a good dose of the movie Speed to the mix. That pretty much sums it up. Except for one thing that made it exceptional -- the practice effect. I love when an author comes up with a really original idea that would deeply influence how things turned out in the world and follows it through. It turned a really basic and frequently used idea, that of the modern man or scientist who finds himself in a society that has little or no technology, and turned it into something interesting." -- Goodreads community review