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.
Let's try something ambitious — a bigger, broader reading compilation. This column is divided according to unique interest-categories, beginning with...
These novels and shorter works inspire the reader to imagine the dreadful-but-avoidable dangers that may lurk down the road ahead. A few of these books even attained the most powerful status any work of fiction can achieve: they changed the future by alerting millions, who then vowed that the bad things should never happen.
These tales offer something almost as important as warnings... a tantalyzing glimpse at (guardedly and tentatively) better tomorrows. (It's actually much harder to do than issue dire warnings!)
Some tales simply rock readers back with wondrous stories that also broaden their perspective... from strange cultures to alternate social systems to unusual ways of thinking.
Take us someplace new. Boggle us with possibilities grounded in the strange-real universe of science!
Just because there's magic and wizards and kings and such... doesn't mean it has to be lobotomizing. There really are exceptions!
Or... what if things were different?
Just go along for the ride.
Extra points if it seems plausible that this might-have-been really might have been. And even more points if the reader goes, "That world seems more plausible than this one I'm living in!"
Here the biggest test is whether you can offer a new or surprising logical twist. Bring on them paradoxes!
The hardest thing of all to do well. Dare to try this most-difficult type!
Forget science, logic and other superficialities. Just love it. The words... the words...
Hey, it's a kind of time travel!
SF authors often disclaim any intent to foretell the future. We explore it, test possibilities, perform gedankenexperiments, even warn or entice. But predict it? Well, at times we do try... and even keep score! Brin fans maintain a wiki tracking hits and misses from my most predictive near-term book to date Earth. Here are some looks-ahead that have been impressively on-target.
International contributions to this genre are undeniable.
Science fiction opens young minds readers to the exciting possibilities of the future. Here are David Brin's recommendations of science fiction and fantasy novels for children.
What books can we give our teens and young adults that don't mire them in a swamp of vampires, domineering wizards or nostalgia for feudalism? Here are just a few of Brin's favorites.
Here are some of David Brin's favorite nonfiction books. Read for a grounding in the science behind his science fiction and nonfiction.
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 cited as one of the top 10 writers the AI elite follow. Past consultations include Google, Microsoft, Procter & Gamble, and many others. Learn More
Do not enter if you want a standard "Party" line! Contrary Brin's community pokes at too-rigid orthodoxies, proposing ideas and topics that fascinate and infuriate.
"Brin slathers a sober and hard-edged landscape at one turn, and in the next pinpoints with pixel clarity the humanity all jumbled up in the epic action. There are no mutant cockroaches or other absurdities. We are in the Oregon mountains, crawling through bracken, or hiding in the snowdrifts because a sniper has pinned us down. On every page we see the dirty, lined, broken faces of hardscrabble existence, but we also see them light up at the simple gesture of receiving a piece of mail from a long-lost loved one. And we see mythopoesis right in our faces."
— SF Site Reviews
"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
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 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
Ray Bradbury was the last living member of a "BACH" quartet — writers who transformed science fiction from a pulp magazine ghetto into a genre for hardcover bestsellers. Isaac Asimov, Arthur Clarke and Robert Heinlein helped shatter barriers for the rest of us, establishing the legitimacy of literature that explores possible or plausible tomorrows. But it was Bradbury who made clear to everyone that science fiction can be an art form combining boldness and broad horizons with sheer, unadulterated beauty.
Jack Willaimson was no Yankee trader, but he might have been. His life is one long tale of hoodwinking fate, of turning adversity into advantage, and above all, changing the world through the sheer magic of his perceptions. By seeing the universe in a new way — and conveying his vision through science fiction — Williamson helped break the old spell that held human beings enthralled for so long. The tradition of static sameness. The old fear of innovation.