David Brin's best-selling novels include The Postman (filmed in 1997) plus explorations of our near-future in Earth and Existence. His award-winning novels and short stories explore vividly speculative ideas through a hard-science lens. His nonfiction book, The Transparent Society, won the American Library Association's Freedom of Speech Award for exploring 21st Century concerns about security, secrecy, accountability and privacy.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Brin has taken a single premise (what if one of the laws of thermodynamics were repealed?), and woven it into a clever tale of a world of practical magic....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.
Heh, this book was pleasantly ridiculous. It had such a weird premise that everything that happened was almost a surprise. And I just had to laugh every time they go into a trance and practice up some primitive thing into something crazy, like an airplane.
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.
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.
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.
Brin's canny sensitivity about the complexities of human nature transcends gender barriers in a novel that is not so much about "women's issues" as the necessity for change and variability. As in Earth ( LJ 4/15/90), the author demonstrates his ability to empathize with all his characters. This complex and gripping tale belongs in most libraries.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
David Brin's science fiction 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. They range from bold and prophetic explorations of our near-future to Brin's Uplift series, envisioning galactic issues of sapience and destiny (and star-faring dolphins!). Learn More
Short stories and novellas have different rhythms and artistic flavor, and Brin's short stories and novellas, several of which earned Hugo and other awards, exploit that difference to explore a wider range of real and vividly speculative ideas. Many have been selected for anthologies and reprints, and most have been published in anthology form. Learn More
Since 2004, David Brin has maintained a blog about science, technology, science fiction, books, and the future — themes his science fiction and nonfiction writings continue to explore. Learn More
Who could've predicted that social media — indeed, all of our online society — would play such an important role in the 21st Century — restoring the voices of advisors and influencers! Lively and intelligent comments spill over onto Brin's social media pages. Learn More
David Brin's Ph.D in Physics from 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. Every science show that depicts a comet now portrays the model developed in Brin's PhD research. Learn More
Brin's non-fiction book, The Transparent Society: Will Technology Force Us to Choose Between Freedom and Privacy?, continues to receive acclaim for its accuracy in predicting 21st Century concerns about online security, secrecy, accountability and privacy. Learn More
Brin speaks plausibly and entertainingly about trends in technology and society to audiences willing to confront the challenges that our rambunctious civilization will face in the decades ahead. He also talks about the field of science fiction, especially in relation to his own novels and stories. To date he has presented at more than 200 meetings, conferences, corporate retreats and other gatherings.Learn More
Brin advises corporations and governmental and private defense- and security-related agencies about information-age issues, scientific trends, future social and political trends, and education. Urban Developer Magazine named him one of four World's Best Futurists, and he was appraised as "#1 influencer" in Onalytica's Top 100 report of Artificial Intelligence influencers, brands & publications. Past consultations include Google, Microsoft, Procter & Gamble, and many others. Learn More
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