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.
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."
I quite enjoyed this novel and found it uplifting in the message of a regular man who had greatness thrust upon him and came to realize that he had to take responsibility. The movie, starring Kevin Costner, is also good but diverges a good bit from the book, especially in the second half. As is often the case, the book is better.
One of my favorites from the Science Fiction genre. It is amazing (and frightening) how in many ways it parallels our current political/societal discourse. Society in The Postman is in shambles and is polarized to the extreme. There are two types of people in this novel: 1.) Those who survive at any cost, who haughtily mock and murder those innocents that cross their path (perhaps in a subconscious play of survival of the fittest i.e. survive or die becomes kill or be killed) and 2.) Those who struggle onward attempting to hold onto the shreds of community, society, and decency that survives the fallout.
Our modern day struggles may not be born of a disaster of epic proportions, but more than ever do I see these two conflicting archetypes emerging in our own society as it becomes increasingly polarized. The harsh survivalists... the counter to the Musketeers 'All for one. One for all' bent on their own self-interest and independence versus the weak who gather as beacons of community and the champions of mans responsibility towards their fellow man. On which side do you lay? Which side will survive the struggle in the end?
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 without resorting to the time-saving but unconvincing tricks of Star Trek-style space operas. 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.
Earth raises a lot of issues about the environment, the supposed superiority of humankind, the interconnectedness of all living things, the individual's right to privacy, and much more. Lots of food for thought and a fantastic book for discussion (I read this for a book discussion group, and I can't wait to hear what everyone else has to say about it). I haven't read anything else by David Brin, but after reading Earth, I definitely want to.
Weaving an epic of complex dimensions, Brin (Startide Rising) plaits initially divergent story lines, all set in the year 2038, into an outstandingly satisfying novel. At the center is a type of mystery: after a failed murder attempt, a group of people try to save the victim, recover the murder weapon, identify the guilty party and fend off other assassins, all the while being led through n + 1 plot twists — each with a sense of overhanging doom, because the intended victim is Gaea, Earth herself. 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.
The central concept in Sundiver is an interesting and clever one: all intelligent races in the galaxy have been uplifted to sentience by a parent race, although humanity is the exception to this as it appears they haven't. What they have done though is uplift two of Earth's other animals to sentience, the Dolphin and Chimpanzee, and in doing so have become a parent race themselves. With this done before they were discovered by the other races of the galaxy, humanity have been given a status that some within the galactic society believe they are not worthy of.
... I dig it because I'm into books on animal intelligence, transhuman SF, etc... and it's a great spin on the evolution/creation debate. Sundiver is actually a murder mystery... complete with a 'parlor reveal' scene. There also is an interesting political argument about psychological profiling, surveillance and citizenship (if we can prove some people are biologically/psychological sociopath/violent/whatever... what do we do about it, if we can't fix them?)
David Brin writes science fiction the way it should be written — with imagination, heroic characters, and the triumph of all that is good in the human spirit. Sundiver is a prime example of how good Brin's books can be.
The Uplift novels focus mainly on the incursion of Earth civilization into this vast structure. Humanity — echoes of the Golden Age of traditional twentieth-century American sf can be heard here — is the sole example in the galaxies of a "wolfling" species, i.e. one which is self-uplifting (or so humans believe); moreover, humanity has itself uplifted two species, the dolphins and the chimpanzees of Earth. The original Progenitors have long disappeared, and the intergalactic search for relics of their presence, along with the conflicts generated by humanity's asserted uniqueness, shapes much of the sequence, which Brin enlivens throughout with exceedingly clever depictions of a wide range of Alien species.
Brin leaves the reader thinking, 'What a great story. Tell me another!' Startide Rising is Brin's best work, worthy of every award it has received. Read it, and you will be delighted and satisfied. But be warned: you will then want to read everything else he has written.
The idea of Uplift, in which intelligence is not evolved but handed down from a patron species to a client species by genetic engineering, is nothing less than brilliant: it's a concept that introduces a galactic society that is diverse, believable, and, as we come to realize, fraught with danger for us human outsiders, and one that dramatizes heady philosophical questions about the universe.
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.
An intense ride of a book — the battle overhead, the intense interpersonal conflicts down on the planet. Brin once again brings the weird alien mysteries that I love — what exactly are the drill trees and metal mounds? He still hasn't answered 'did humanity have a patron?' and added the new one of 'who is Herbie and what is up with the derelict fleet?'
This time the events that are occurring in Startide Rising have caused some hostile species to move directly against humanity and their children sentients the dolphins and chimpanzees. A colony world is conquered and the governors son goes into hiding with the daughter of the ambassador of one of the few friendly alien species. They join forces with the few remaining free chimpanzees and start a guerrilla war to take back the world (don't look at me, it's Brin's pun).
I read this book for my book club, and it led to one of the best discussions we've ever had. David Brin is the Jackson Pollock of science-fiction, he just grabs a bunch of science-y ideas, mixes them all up, and splatters them all over his pages.
One thing I truly admire about the world Brin creates, is that he manages to portray the idea of not only a very ancient galactic civilization, and one with perhaps higher moral standards in part than your average 21st (or at the time of publication 20th), century humans, but also one which is distinctly dangerous. Even the more advanced and older alien races are not just godlike beings of infinite wisdom, anymore than the Gubru and similar nasties are simply scientific demons. Brin's gift for diversity and for showing paradoxically the human side of alien races is something extremely rare in science fiction authors.
The idea behind this series is imaginative and far reaching, and if The Uplift War is typical of what to expect in this series, I will soon be purchasing more of David Brin's work.
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
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