DAVID BRIN's recommendations for science fiction that teaches and inspires

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.

Science fiction provides learning opportunities for enquiring minds of all ages. Here are David Brin's recommendations for teachers, parents, and students, followed by advice and inspiration for adults who love science fiction.

book club discussion pdf pages

  • The Postman
  • Existence
  • Earth
  • The Tinkerers
  • classroom study guide

  • The Postman
  • a small trove of advice for aspiring writers

    A person is behooved to help pass success on to those who follow. So, after writing the same answers, over and over, to many letters David Brin receives from would-be writers, he put it all together here.

    He then recorded a short video of writing advice, and compiled a page of writing advice gathered from this site and others.

    two pivotal years of pessimism and optimism

    Our greatest works of science fiction do not attempt to predict a future as much as motivate us to prevent their scenarios from coming true — an aim that George Orwell achieved with fantastic success in Nineteen Eighty-Four. Likewise, the epochal film 2001: A Space Odyssey debunks a modern cliché — the absurd and easily disproved complaint that human wisdom hasn't kept pace with our technology.

    for adults who love to teach

    teaching science fiction

    science fiction can teach science

    Let science fiction illustrate a scientific principle before, during, and after a science lesson! Science fiction can be used to teach science and motivate discussions and writing prompts about using new ideas and inventions to improve how people live. Here are stories, articles, and resources which can be used by parents or teachers to illustrate science with science fiction.

    strength by resources

    resources to teach science

    At Scoop.It Brin has compiled articles and websites which illuminate how science can be taught in the classroom (or at home) in interesting and fun ways.

    science fiction invades the classroom

    pinning hopes on sci-fi

    David Brin's started a Pinterest page collecting online resources for teachers and parents to use to teach science fiction in the classroom, and another for book recommendations for YA readers.

    science fiction films

    films that get the science right

    Movies can captivate kids' attention — and they can be used to illustrate basic science concepts in the real world. From Apollo 13 to The Right Stuff, from Lorenzo's Oil to Awakenings, from Contact to Gattaca, historical and science fiction films can be used to pique student's interest — and entertain.

    Also: Here are some science-based lesson plans for teachers, using popular movies and other film resources to illustrate science.

    the inside scoop on teaching science

    classroom resources

    Here's Brin's compilation of articles and websites of online resources for teachers and parents interested in teaching science fiction (in a classroom and elsewhere). Pleanty of answers for students learning any branch of science!

    reading science

    motivate students to read

    Consider the ages from twelve to fifteen, when a person's sense of wonder can bloom or wither, starved by ennui or seared by fashionable cynicism. For many adults (especially those in STEAM fields), it was an inspiring teacher, parent, or other role model that helped cast our minds far beyond oppressive peers or perceived limitations. Here's a short list of ways to help teachers, librarians and others find literary Science Fiction where ideas foster debate about present-day situations and consequences, encouraging readers to engage in truly exploratory adventures of the mind.

    for adults who love to learn

    prevent and prepare for the future

    self-preventing prophecies

    Science fiction can be like the stick that a wary traveler pokes into the ground ahead of him, to see where snakes and quicksand may lie. The degree to which we escaped the destiny portrayed in George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty Four, for example, may be owed in part to the way his chilling tale affected millions, who then girded themselves to fight "Big Brother" to their last breath. Since then, many other dystopian novels rocked the public's conscience or awareness and generated their own calls and alarms to prevent their nightmares.

    learning from science

    asking questions about science fiction

    Any science fiction fan knows the genre generates more questions than it answers. How is Science Fiction defined? What's the difference between Science Fiction and Fantasy? David Brin has compiled some of the more interesting answers to these questions and more.

    Frodo reading

    learning from pop culture

    Grab the popcorn! From Star Wars to Star Trek, from Brin's The Postman to Arthur C. Clarke's 2001 and Frank Miller's 300, here's a compilation of David's unusual and frequently amusing articles on movies and TV shows.

    Brin's bookshelf

    what to read

    Naturally David Brin recommends his books and shorter fiction. But he finds these books inspiring and well worth recommending to readers of all ages. From classics to the newest releases, science fiction offers fiction to enthrall every reader.

    The Postman

    the end of the world is a best-seller!

    War? Environmental collapse? Natural disasters? Fictional doomsday scenarios make popular books, films and television series. (Brin even wrote one!) Looking back from the very near future of 2035, Brin imagines many versions of our civilization's end — and invite you to imagine your own!

    a brief intro to science fiction author DAVID BRIN

    To learn more, visit his books page, or see his "about me" page or detailed biography.

    DAVID BRIN author


    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

    shorter fiction

    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

    Contrary Brin blog

    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

    social media influencer

    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 scientist


    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

    transparency expert

    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

    speaker & consultant

    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

    future/tech advisor

    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

    other points of departure

    visit other pages on this website

    pages about DAVID BRIN

  • latest news and activities
  • information about DAVID BRIN
  • public speaking and consulting & popular topics
  • speaking/consulting references and testimonials & a list of past appearances
  • print and podcast interviews
  • video interviews and talks
  • Brin's presskit and complete biography
  • traditional media and social media
  • Brin quotes and frequently asked questions
  • pages about BRIN's science fiction

  • Brin's novels and books
  • Brin's short stories and novellas
  • all about Brin's uplift universe
  • a selection of book reviews
  • Brin's special-order books for sale
  • Brin's advice for new writers
  • Brin reviews sci fi films — including The Postman
  • a compilation of great sf books to read
  • recommended sf films
  • science fiction that teaches
  • BRIN's nonfiction explorations

  • privacy, security, accountability and transparency
  • designing and crafting our amazing 21st Century
  • predicting and projecting our near and far future
  • leading and following our politics and economy
  • keeping track of changes in science and technology
  • scanning our sky for habitable (inhabited?) worlds
  • Contacting BRIN

    All the Ways in the World to Reach David Brin

    an ornery, contrary BLOG, and other insightful wormholes!

    Do not enter if you want a standard "Party" line! Contrary Brin's incendiary posts on science, sci-fi and politics and its engaged, opinionated community poke at too-rigid orthodoxies, proposing ideas and topics that fascinate — and infuriate. See for yourself, and if you like — subscribe for more.

    Questions? Concerns? Email DAVID BRIN

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    endorsements and recommendations

    praise for Glory Season

    "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, the author demonstrates his ability to empathize with all his characters. This complex and gripping tale belongs in most libraries."
    — Library Journal

    praise for The Postman

    "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

    praise for Earth

    "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.... 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."
    — Thomas M. Disch, EW.com

    89.3 KPCC-FM

    "Thanks again for being part of our "kick-off" program for the KPCC Crawford Forum science series (broadcast on our NPR station). The audience loved it, and we all learned a lot — you certainly do have a lot of fans! We hope we can have you with us again at some time in the not too distant future."

    final thoughts ...

    ... for this page, at least ...

    what do we learn?

    DAVID BRIN quote

    "We are in a race to cross a very dangerous zone, between where we are and where our grandchildren may be. Will they know how to manage the planet? How to expand beyond the planet? How to stay calm? How to argue in a fair and decent way, bypassing politics? This isn't a vast utopia; it is just us, much more reasonable, having raised better grandchildren."
    David Brin

    DAVID BRIN quote