Here are vivid tales about possible tomorrows, from the keen eye and colorful pen of David Brin. Visit a chillingly plausible tomorrow, when prisoners may be sent to asteroidal gulags. Or experience an alien invasion like no other, confronting humanity with a stark and terrible choice. Also, might fantastically potent new beings emerge out of ourselves, as revealed in "Chrysalis"?
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In this collection of 21 stories, humans and aliens encounter the secrets of the cosmos and of their own existence. In "The Giving Plague," a scientist discovers a new strain of virus. In "Dr. Pak's Preschool" a woman learns that her baby must work while still in the womb. In "Sshhh..." the arrival of benevolent aliens leads to frenzy, madness — and unimaginable joy.
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Contains twelve of David Brin's finest stories, including "The Crystal Spheres", which won the Hugo Award for Best Science Fiction Short Story in 1985. 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?
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His squad double-timed alongside a towering, aromatic, ornamental hedge, toward the sound of helicopters and the painful brilliance of searchlights. Perspiration loosened his grip on the stock, forcing him to hold his weapon tighter. His heartbeat quickened as they neared the scene of action. And yet, Roland felt certain he wasn't scared to die. No, he was afraid of screwing up.
Excerpted from Earth, "A Need for Heroes" also appears in War Stories from the Future, or read A NEED FOR HEROES for free here.
In a universe filled with habitable worlds, why have we had no contact with extra-terrestrial intelligence? "The Crystal Spheres" offers a fantastic explanation for the Great Silence. Instead of being late-comers — might humanity have come upon the scene too early? This haunting tale (part of The River of Time) was voted one of the "most beautiful of the eighties." Available for purchase at Amazon's kindle (#AmazonCommissionsEarned), Smashwords, and Apple's iTunes.
Today's public imagination has been captured by the exploration of Mars. But once that desert planet had a rival for the imagination of science fiction readers and writers — back when the oceans of Venus, our sister world, stirred our spirits! Read "The Tumbledowns of Cleopatra Abyss," an adventure tale of a Venus that just-might-be.
Also included in Brin's anthology Insistence of Vision and Old Venus an anthology of stories about our "sister world," edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois.
In "Piecework," the most sophisticated "engineering" process on Earth is pregnancy among mammals — especially among humans. There is already talk of using goats and cattle to produce industrial products instead of milk, to bring to term organic machines, programmed in eggs and developed in the womb. Might poor women be induced to rent out their wombs for industrial "piecework"? Available for purchase at Apple's iTunes, Amazon's kindle (#AmazonCommissionsEarned), and Smashwords.
"Aficionado" (an excerpt from Existence) takes you on a wild rocket ride — the new sport of the super-rich in 2050. Hacker Sander is spoiled, temperamental and a champion rock-jock, expert at the game of Space War ... till a crash landing throws him into lethal peril. His sole hope? A tribe of strangely savvy sea creatures, with a secret need of their own.
Do you ever get that sense of déjà vu? How would you recognize if you were living in a computer simulation? Perhaps this isn't your first time. "Reality Check" (also included in Insistence of Vision) first appeared in the March 16, 2000, issue of the science journal Nature and was selected for the Year's Best SF 6 Anthology, edited by David G. Hartwell. It's available to read for free here, but if you prefer, download it for free at Smashwords or Amazon's kindle (#AmazonCommissionsEarned).
Who guides our fate? And can we ever hope to wrest control for ourselves? In this novella, "The Loom of Thessaly," classical mythology merges with impudent modern spirit into a science fiction legend that speculates upon the nature of reality. Available for purchase at Apple's iTunes, Amazon's kindle (#AmazonCommissionsEarned), and Smashwords.
"Stones of Significance" was written in response to a challenge: Is it possible to write a story that is set after the singularity when humans have effectively become gods? The creation of vastly superior new minds will have one of two consequences. Either humanity will be left in the dust ... or else we will find a way to go along with the ride! Available for purchase at Amazon's kindle (#AmazonCommissionsEarned), Smashwords, and Apple's iTunes.
A complete novella, "The Smartest Mob" offers a full adventure-excerpt from Existence. A news reporter finds herself aboard a passenger Zeppelin that might — perhaps — have been turned into a weapon of terror. No one will listen — not the government or the Zep company. No one, that is, except a semi-random band of amateurs, scattered around the globe.
How to endure the unendurable? "The Logs" is a tale of survival in the harshest of conditions... in an isolated asteroid work camp. Hear daughter Ari Brin read David's poignant short story in the latest Novum podcast. It was originally included in Shadows of the New Sun (stories inspired by the vision of Gene Wolfe), ed. by J.E. Mooney and Bill Fawcett.
"Temptation" (read chapter 1 for free here) first appeared in Robert Silverberg's anthology Far Horizons: All New Tales from the Greatest Worlds of Science Fiction, and is included in the newest story collection, Insistence of Vision. This work features the adventures of a female dolphin on Jijo who must escape from two of her own kind and then penetrate a deeply dangerous ancient secret. This novella answers several unresolved riddles left over from Heaven's Reach. "Temptation" is also available as an audio podcast.
Can a science fiction story alter the course of something ponderous, like the space program? Perhaps. "Tank Farm Dynamo" sure tried! What if we found the nerve, the spirit and daring to use every resource — including those that NASA simply threw away — using science and technology as the central problem-solvers... with a twist. Available for purchase at Amazon's kindle (#AmazonCommissionsEarned), Smashwords, and Apple's iTunes.
Another novella-excerpt from Existence tells the story of a brave Chinese man trying to make a life in the flooded boundaries of Shanghai, who stumbles upon a great and terrible discovery, in "Shoresteading" (read for free here).
"Shoresteading" is also included in Gateways, ed. by Elizabeth Anne Hull, a collection of science fiction stories inspired by SF great Frederik Pohl.
"The Giving Plague" (which appears in Otherness) plunges into our modern fear — even deeper than nuclear war — of a virus that might wreak ruin on us all or change us immeasurably. It's available to read for free here, but if you prefer, download it for free at Smashwords, iTunes, Barnes & Noble's nook,or Amazon's kindle (#AmazonCommissionsEarned).
"Those Eyes," (which appeared in Otherness and is available to read for free here), takes you on a ride through the notion of UFOs following the tough gaze of a radio talk show host who challenges the nasty, skulking 'visitors' to come into the open and face us, eye to eye! (For a more scientific and technical approach to this issue, look at my SETI page.)
In this humorous story set in the Uplift Universe, chimpanzees and dolphins are helping humans choose the next species for uplift when powerful alien starships arrive to wipe out all life on Earth. This comedy is available for purchase on Apple's iTunes, Amazon's kindle (#AmazonCommissionsEarned), and Smashwords.
"Thor Meets Captain America" (included in The River of Time) offers an alternate history exploring a chilling scenario: In this parallel world, the Nazis narrowly avoid defeat when they are championed by the gods of the Norse Pantheon. This story was later expanded into an award-winning graphic novel The Life Eaters, with artwork by Scott Hampton. "Thor Meets Captain America" is available for purchase at Amazon's kindle (#AmazonCommissionsEarned), Smashwords, and Apple's iTunes.
What if education could be extended into the womb? Will we get brilliant, well-balanced babies? Monsters? Or a frightening/hopeful combination of both? "Dr. Pak's Preschool" explores the bright and very dark possibilities when science meddles in the most intimate human act — bearing and delivering a child. Available for purchase on Apple's iTunes, Amazon's kindle (#AmazonCommissionsEarned), and Smashwords.
In "Bubbles," galaxies are not evenly distributed through expanding space. The "universe" is full of holes, emptiness, and Serena is stranded within that great emptiness. Will she spend eternity staring at unreachable galaxies strung at the fringes of monstrous cavities like flickers on the surface of a soap bubble?
The September 2011 issue Lightspeed Magazine (which originally published "Bubbles") also offers an audio recording of "Bubbles" read by science fiction great Harlan Ellison.
"Toujours Voir" is a specialty micro-story exactly 250 words long — which has been written in the logical artificial language "lojban" (then translated into English). It's an experiment in how complex an idea can be conveyed in the smallest number of words.
(In the mood for more micro-stories? In this Contrary Brin blog post David Brin published two new 250-word stories.)
"Genji" is included in Murasaki, ed. by Robert Silverberg; a shared-world anthology about what happens when ships bearing humans arrive in the Murasaki system.
The essay "Sousveillance" appears in Between Ape and Artilect: Conversations with Pioneers of Artificial General Intelligence and Other Transformative Technologies.
The story "Transition Generation" appeared in Hieroglyph: Stories and Visions for a Better Future, an anthology inspired by Neal Stephenson's 2011 article "Innovation Starvation." It also appears in Brin's newest anthology, Insistence of Vision.
"Sky Light" appears in All Star Zeppelin Adventure Stories, ed. by David Moles and Jay Lake; stirring science fiction adventure stories paying homage to 1940's pulp SF tales.
"Banner of the Angels" is included in Extreme Planets: A Science Fiction Anthology of Alien Worlds, ed. David Conyers and David Kernot.
"The Heavy Generation" appears in Starship Century: Toward the Grandest Horizon, ed. by Gregory and James Benford. This anthology of science fiction and fact was inspired by the DARPA/NASA One Hundred Year Starship program.
"Just a Hint" appears in Before They Were Giants, ed. by James L. Sutter. It collects the first published stories of fifteen award-winning science fiction authors.
"Eloquent Elephants Pine Away for the Moon's Crystal Forests" is included in Space Cadets, ed. by Mike Resnick; science fiction stories provoking memories of the Golden Age of Science Fiction. It also appears in Brin's newest anthology, Insistence of Vision.
Novum, a podcast broadcasting out of JAM Radio in Dundee, Scotland, recorded an audio version (read by daughter Ari Brin) of "The Logs." This story is part of Brin's newest collection Insistence of Vision.
A number of free audio versions of Brin's stories have appeared at Starship Sofa:
Interzone Online has republished a reading-podcast audiobook of "The Giving Plague." Clear and dramatic and fun.
When did America lose its knack for making things? Manufacturing is the root that all other projects sprout from... even the arts! The story "The Tinkerers" illuminates one community's response to that question. Thanks to the Metals Service Center Institute, it became a comic book that combines graphic art with a guided tour of history and tech, exploring how to win back the knack!
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
All the Ways in the World to Reach David Brin
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"Extrapolation of the highest and most subtle order."
— Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine
"David Brin excels at the essential craft of the page turning, 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."
— Entertainment Weekly
"This is one of my favourite short stories by any author, both for the unique concept of time as a true river with tributaries and currents, and for its tight execution. It made me stop and consider the linearity of time in an entirely new way."
— Amazon.com customer review
"Brin is a fervently iconoclastic writer who loves to pick up a really neat new idea and take it all the way to the logical limit."
In 2006, Wired Magazine asked a group of authors to write a six-word story for an article. I sent a batch, and they chose:
"Vacuum collision. Orbits diverge. Farewell, love." The rest?