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David Brin

(1950- )
Dr. David Brin (Ph.D. in physics) is a scientist, public speaker and world-known author. His novels have been New York Times Bestsellers, winning multiple Hugo, Nebula and other awards. David’s non-fiction book — The Transparent Society: Will Technology Make Us Choose Between Freedom and Privacy? — deals with secrecy in the modern world. It won the Freedom of Speech Award from the American Library Association. A 1998 movie, directed by Kevin Costner, was loosely based on his post-apocalyptic novel, 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. As a public speaker, Brin shares unique insights — serious and humorous — about ways that changing technology may affect our future lives. He appears frequently on TV, including several episodes of “The Universe” and History Channel’s “Life After People.” He also was a regular cast member on “The ArciTECHS.” 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 technical patents directly confront some of the faults of old-fashioned screen-based interaction, aiming to improve the way human beings converse online. Brin lives in San Diego County with his wife and three children. Learn more at David Brin’s website.

Startide Rising: Sentient dolphins

Startide Rising by David Brin

I had never read a David Brin book before reading Startide Rising. Hearing his background was in math, physics, astronomy, etc., I went about buying one of his books with trepidation. Isaac Asimov, Vernor Vinge, Alastair Reynolds, and other popular science fiction authors may be good scientists, but they lack the touch and feel of an inborn writer and the style of their novels suffers. Though it’s prose is not glorious, Startide Rising was nevertheless a pleasant surprise.

A fun mix of hard SF and space opera, Startide Rising is a unique story that sets itself apart from derivative SF for its premise. A dolphin and human crew are hiding on a water planet, holed up in an attempt to escape a galaxy of species that want the relic ... Read More

The Postman: A powerful story about hope

The Postman by David Brin

Sixteen years after an apocalyptic event that nearly destroyed all human life on the earth, civilization consists only of small groups of suspicious people who have managed to band together for safety. These communities are spread out and preyed upon by roaming bandits or groups of “survivalists” who follow a despotic leader.

Gordon Krantz has been struggling to survive by himself in the Oregon wilderness. He’s been hoping to find a community where he can fit in, but when bandits steal all his clothes and gear, he has nothing to offer in return for shelter. He’s in danger of dying from hunger and exposure until he stumbles upon the corpse of a United States postal worker and dons the dead man’s uniform.

Then he begins his scam; he presents himself to various towns and convinces them that he represents a newly formed United States government. He says he has a message to bring them from their n... Read More

Existence: A big book that’s all too short — a must read

Existence by David Brin

Existence is David Brin’s first novel in some time and while I’ve long bemoaned his absence, it’s hard to complain about the time he takes if this is what he ends up with. Existence is a big novel, bursting with ideas and filled to the rim with characters and plot. If not all of them play out fully; well, I’ll take that flaw happily considering the pay off here.

The novel is set in the next century in a world changed by a host of events, many of which come to us merely as evocative names or merest snippets of reference: Awfulday, major climate change, a (relatively) minor eruption of the supervolcano in Yellowstone, rivers shifting courses, the “Soggy Decade,” the kudzu disaster, the Zheng Me disaster, and so on. So many disasters, in fact, both natural and manmade, have befallen humanity that one wonders just how the species ... Read More

Magazine Monday: Lightspeed Magazine, Issue 26, July 2012

Lightspeed Magazine is edited by the formidable John Joseph Adams, who has produced a long series of wonderful anthologies and is soon to launch a new horror magazine. One might be concerned that such a busy schedule would mean that something would get short shrift, but if that is the case, it certainly isn’t Issue 26 of Lightspeed.

About half of the content of this magazine, which is produced in electronic format only, consists of interviews, novel excerpts, an artist gallery and spotlight, and author spotlights. In addition, roughly half of the fiction offered is original; the rest is reprinted, though the choices are inspired. The novel excerpts are available only to those... Read More

The Oxford Book of Science Fiction Stories: Humane science fiction

The Oxford Book of Science Fiction Stories edited by Tom Shippey

I read Tom Shippey's other excellent collection, The Oxford Book of Fantasy Stories some time ago, so it was only a matter of time before I sought out this one. Like its stablemate, The Oxford Book of Science Fiction Stories consists of a chronological collection of stories from a variety of authors with an introduction by the editor. I was struck by the idea of "fabril" literature, which is discussed in the introduction: a form of literature in which the "smith" is central. Certainly, a great deal of early science fiction in particular involves a clever engineer solving some sort of problem, and I'm sure many careers in engineering and the sciences have been launched in this way. I'd say that there is some tendency, though, as the genre matures, for technology to become the problem and human factors the solutio... Read More

Old Venus: An over-long, narrowly-themed anthology

Old Venus by Gardner Dozois & George R.R. Martin

George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois’s themed anthologies are some of the most popular on the market these days. Soliciting the genre’s best-known mainstream writers, selecting highly familiar themes, and letting the length run to 500+ pages, RoguesWarriorsDangerous WomenSongs of the Dying EarthOld Mars, and others are among the bestselling a... Read More

More books by David Brin

David Brin The Practice Effect

The Practice Effect — (1984) Publisher: Dennis Nuel is a physicist who, during his research, develops a machine that allows him to explore alternate realities, each of which sport some very strange scientific properties.

Heart of the Comet David BrinThe Heart of the Comet — (1986) With Gregory Benford. Publisher: Prescient and scientifically accurate, Heart of the Comet is known as one of the great “hard sf” novels of the 1980s. First published in 1986, it tells the story of an ambitious manned mission to visit Halley’s Comet and alter its orbit, to mine it for resources. But all too soon, native cells — that might once have brought life to Earth — begin colonizing the colonists. As factions battle over the comet’s future… and that of Earth… only love, courage and ingenuity can avert disaster, and possibly spark a new human destiny.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsThe River of Time — (1986) Publisher: The River of Time brings together twelve of David Brin’s stories , including The Crystal Spheres, which won the Hugo Award for Best Science Fiction Short Story of the year. Here are powerful tales of heroism and humanity, playful excursions into realms of fancy, and profound meditations on time, memory, and our place in the universe. Who guides our fate? And can we ever hope to wrest control for ourselves? The Loom of Thessaly merges classical mythology with impudent modern spirit in a science fiction classic that speculates on the nature of reality. Thor Meets Captain America offers an alternate history exploring a chilling scenario behind the Holocaust. In this parallel world, the Nazis narrowly avoid defeat in World War II when they are championed by the gods of the Norse Pantheon. Read these and other speculations into the future of humanity in The River of Time.

David Brin EarthEarth — (1990) Publisher: The long-awaited new novel by the award-winning, bestselling author of Startide Rising and The Uplift War — an epic novel set fifty years from tomorrow, a carefully-reasoned, scientifically faithful tale of the fate of our world. “One hell of a novel… has what sci-fi readers want these days; intelligence, action, and an epic scale”. — Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine.

David Brin Glory Season science fiction book reviewsGlory Season — (1993) Publisher: Hugo and Nebula award-winning author David Brin is one of the most eloquent, imaginative voices in science fiction.  Now he returns with a new novel rich in texture, universal in theme, monumental in scope — pushing the genre to new heights. Young Maia is fast approaching a turning point in her life.  As a half-caste var, she must leave the clan home of her privileged half sisters and seek her fortune in the world.  With her twin sister, Leie, she searches the docks of Port Sanger for an apprenticeship aboard the vessels that sail the trade routes of the Stratoin oceans. On her far-reaching, perilous journey of discovery, Maia will endure hardship and hunger, imprisonment and loneliness, bloody battles with pirates and separation from her twin.  And along the way, she will meet a traveler who has come an unimaginable distance — and who threatens the delicate balance of the Stratoins’ carefully maintained, perfect society… Both exciting and insightful, Glory Season is a major novel, a transcendent saga of the human spirit.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsOtherness — (1994) Publisher: From multiple award-winning author David Brin comes this extraordinary collection of tales and essays of the near and distant future, as humans and aliens encounter the secrets of the cosmos–and of their own existence.  In “Dr. Pak’s Preschool” a woman discovers that her baby has been called upon to work while still in the womb.  In “NatuLife” a married couple finds their relationship threatened by the wonders of sex by simulation.  In “Sshhh… ” the arrival of benevolent aliens on Earth leads to frenzy, madness… and unimaginable joy.  In “Bubbles” a sentient starcraft reaches the limits of the universe — and dares to go beyond.  These are but a few of the challenging speculations in Otherness, from the pen of an author whose urgent and compelling imaginative fiction challenges us to wonder at the shape and the nature of the universe — as well as at its future.

David Brin Kiln PeopleKil’n People — (2001) Publisher: Al Morris is a private investigator. Actually, he’s lots of private investigators. For he lives in a world in which every person, every day, can be in any number of places at the same time. It’s the world of dittos. It is our world. Welcome to the future. In a business where information is the currency, Al’s dittos are loaded. And with a number of cases on the go at once, it is crucial that Al keeps track of what’s going on. What he doesn’t know is that he is about to be drawn into a plot that could throw this delicately balanced world into chaos. It seems that the technology has been developed for dittos to replicate themselves. It seems that real people may no longer be necessary. And, suddenly, it seems that mankind’s dream of immortality could turn into a nightmare.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsTomorrow Happens  — (2003) Publisher: An insightful, quicksilver romp through Brin’s own mind. In the 20 essays, short stories, and little wonders in this book, David will take you from the worlds of Galileo Galilei and Jules Verne, through thoughtful explorations of Orwell and Tolkien, and on into tomorrows that just may happen.

David Brin Sky HorizonSky Horizon — (2007) Publisher: “Some of the Math Club nerds have got a real live alien! They’re hiding it in a basement rec room.” High School junior Mark Bamford didn’t believe the silly rumor. For one thing, California homes don’t have basements. Besides. A stranded alien? Such a cliche. A movie rip-off. Couldn’t the math geeks think up a better hoax? Only… was it a hoax? What about all those black vans from the super-secret Cirrocco Corp cruising all over town, as if searching for something? Time to do some investigating of his own. Only, who could he turn to for help? The skateboarding “X” crowd? The varsity climbing team? When it it came right down to it, should he turn to the least likely ally of them all? Sky Horizon explores a possibility that has always fascinated, since the days of Homer — that of strangers from beyond — and gives it new shape under the deft hand of one of science fiction’s modern masters.


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