Books by David Brin

EXISTENCE by David Brin
Released: June 1, 2012

"A verbose, unwieldy, frustrating, nugget-strewn mess."
Huge, ambitious concoction from the author of Kiln People (2002, etc.) that tackles the question of why we haven't yet been contacted by aliens. Read full book review >
KILN PEOPLE by David Brin
Released: Jan. 1, 2001

"Intricate plotting, unflagging inventiveness, and a judicious sprinkling of puns and in-jokes: Brin keeps the pages feverishly turning and the tone light enough to evade the inherent irrationality of the premise."
Brin (Foundation's Triumph, 1999, etc.) gives the medieval fable of the golem a thoroughgoing, agreeably tongue-in-cheek revamp. Aeneas Polom invented the process whereby nanoclay is kiln-baked into pseudolife, then imprinted with a human's unique Soul Standing Wave. The resulting golem, or "ditto," has 24 hours to accomplish whatever tasks the original wishes; its memories can then be recovered. Now, Yosil Maharal, a big-shot researcher at Polom's Universal Kilns, has mysteriously disappeared. Gumshoe Albert Morris animates three dittos: two general-purpose grays, one green for dull errand-boy duties. The green, a poor copy, goes "frankie" or independent, preferring to visit the beach rather than do Albert's shopping. Arriving at UK HQ, one gray encounters a Yosil Maharal ditto that claims it's all a mistake—but refuses to be interrogated. Albert's gray follows the Yosil ditto when it sneaks off, only to get zapped. Gray # 2, meanwhile, comes to a sticky end; real Yosil turns up dead, having apparently driven off a cliff. Original Albert investigates, only to be shot at by a Polom ditto. Albert's zapped gray wakes, a captive of the Yosil ditto, and finally gains some inkling of what's going on: Yosil has discovered how to extend a ditto's lifespan, and how to transfer the animating principle from one ditto to another—and even permanently from original to ditto. The Yosil ditto is actually the original in a ditto body! Read full book review >
Released: May 1, 1999

Extending the late Isaac Asimov's original Foundation Trilogy, this Second has each entry tackled by a different author (previously Gregory Benford's Foundation's Fear, 1997, and Greg Bear's Foundation and Chaos, not seen). Brin's wrap-up volume comes from the author of Heaven's Reach (1998), etc. Hari Seldon, the father of psychohistory, is old and ready to die. The main narrative strand, among others too numerous to mention—Brin often seems to be pursuing complication as an end in itself—is a plot, inspired by robots following their prime directive, to kidnap Seldon, temporarily rejuvenate him, and send him 500 years into the future in order to safeguard the Seldon Plan, which will revive galactic civilization after the collapse of the present empire. Some of the characters involved with the various plots, schemes, struggles, and conspiracies, are: Lodovic Trema, a robot unconstrained by robotic laws, free to act and react as any human; Seldon's robot wife, Dors Venabili; and Horis Antic, one of planet Trantor's Grey Man bureaucracy, curious about certain odd mathematical correlations. The prime mover in all this is the wise 20,000-year-old robot, Daneel Olivaw, who plans to create Galaxia, a galactic integrated intelligence that will safeguard human survival forever. Among the problems facing Daneel are chaos viruses that drive entire planets to madness, cyborgs, wars among robots, elusive pirate captains, and cunning aristocrats. Nobody's what they seem, and everybody's plotting against everybody else. The jury's still out. Was this enterprise a wonderful idea, brimming with possibilities? Or was it merely a sterile retrospective rewrite? Still, readers of the first two volumes, and fans of Asimov's original yarns come to that, will want to explore. Read full book review >
HEAVEN'S REACH by David Brin
Released: June 8, 1998

Final installment—the individual entries (Brightness Reef, 1995; Infinity's Shore, 1996) aren't particularly intelligible in their own right—of Brin's vast yarn about planet Jijo and its six alien races, all illegal immigrants living in terror of a visitation from the rulers of the Five Galaxies. The general idea is that the galaxy's older and wiser species, or "patrons," like to "uplift" lesser races—that is, raise them into full sentience by providing extra brains, speech mechanisms, and suchlike. So, from Earth come not only humans but uplifted neo-chimps and neo-dolphins, too. Brin does provide a cast list and a glossary, whereas even for regulars a plot summary would have been much more useful. Since Brin wrote the charming and inspiring The Postman (1985), his novels have grown ever more impenetrable and overambitious; like the rest of the trilogy, this one's hard to get into, hard to follow, and difficult to care about. Read full book review >
Released: May 1, 1998

"Brin's writing is eclectic, wandering and fun. Some of what he says is, well, crackpot. But Brin is also no anarchistic dreamer, no 'cypher punk,' as he puts it. The transparent, unregulated future of freedom is only a possibility, a result of long processes of experimentation and gained wisdom."
Self-described crackpot and prolific science-fiction writer Brin (Infinity's Shore, 1996, etc.) ponders the technological threats to and possibilities for freedom in the not-too-distant future. Read full book review >
Released: Dec. 1, 1996

Book Two (Brightness Reef, 1995) of ``a new Uplift trilogy,'' so-called because both old and new trilogies describe how advanced Galactic races ``uplift'' younger, lesser races into full sentience and membership in the Galactic community. On planet Jijo, six sets of illegal immigrants—five different alien species, plus humans- -have overcome interspecies hostilities, successfully concealing their presence. Now, however, ships from the Five Galaxies—gene raiders, exterminators, busybodies, and what-all—threaten their isolationist idyll. Indistinguishable characters, wildly overcomplicated plotting, and cluttered backdrop: as before, a combination utterly unintelligible to newcomers, and a tough slog even for series fans. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 1995

The first (not self-contained) part of a projected far-future trilogy. Planet Jijo, once inhabited by the advanced alien Buyur, is now occupied by five alien species along with humans. Each race, hoping to find some elbow room in an increasingly crowded Five Galaxies, took up residence illegally; each race sank its spaceships in the oceans, then made elaborate plans to eradicate all traces of themselves once Galactic investigators show upas they eventually will. So the arrival of a spaceship throws the entire planet into turmoil, especially when the ship proves to contain not Galactics but humanswho are thought to be gene pirates in search of valuable DNA; as such, they will have every reason to leave no witnesses when they depart. Brin carries the action forward via a multiplicity of viewpoints: the alien, Asx, of the Commons, a multiracial council of elders; scholar Sara; the Stranger, a mysterious human found burned and brain-damaged; hunter Dwer; the rebellious Rety; the young alien, Alvin, and his party of would-be alien scientists; and the heretic, Lark, whose task is to establish liaison with the newcomers and learn their real purpose. Typical Brin (Glory Season, 1993, etc.): tremendously inventive, ambitious work undercut by excess verbiage, one- dimensional characters, and drably unevocative writing. Read full book review >
GLORY SEASON by David Brin
Released: May 17, 1993

Upheaval and strife in a far-future feminist utopia, thoughtfully set forth by the author of The Postman (1985), Earth (1990), etc. On planet Stratos, long isolated from the Human Phylum, women are dominant politically, numerically, and sexually; the most successful women clone themselves to create extended aristocratic families. Only in summer, when the male sexual response peaks, are natural conceptions permitted. Of these births, the boys—excluded from power—assume traditional male occupations like seafaring and piloting, while the girls—``vars''—must compete fiercely for the few openings available to non-clones. The system, stable for hundreds of years, is now threatened by renewed contact with the Human Phylum: ambassador Renna's arrival on Stratos is forcing the ruling families to new intrigues and evaluations, power struggles and realignments. Caught up in the general turmoil, young var Maia- -events are seen from her point of view—acquires survival skills in a hurry, discovering within herself unexpected talents for navigation and problem-solving. The exotic Renna, so unlike the native men, fascinates her. When both are kidnapped by the same revolutionaries, Maia learns from Renna that what she has been taught of history is largely false. Together, the two discover hidden machines and factories surviving from a time before the clones, when men and women fought side by side to repel alien invaders. Finally, Renna dies attempting to escape back to his orbiting ship, while a new and wiser Maia finds herself the object of intense scrutiny by Stratos's ruling clans. Tremendously hard-working, impressive in scope, and cleverly diagrammed, though patchy, dreadfully long-winded, and ultimately done in by characters that never swim into focus. Brin simply has overreached himself. Read full book review >