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Existence Paperback – 1 Nov 2012

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Product details

  • Paperback: 688 pages
  • Publisher: Orbit (1 Nov. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0356501736
  • ISBN-13: 978-0356501734
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 4.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (79 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 128,259 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

David Brin is a scientist, public speaker and world-known author. His 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.

David's latest novel - Existence - is set forty years ahead, in a near future when human survival seems to teeter along not just on one tightrope, but dozens, with as many hopeful trends and breakthroughs as dangers... a world we already see ahead. Only one day an astronaut snares a small, crystalline object from space. It appears to contain a message, even visitors within. Peeling back layer after layer of motives and secrets may offer opportunities, or deadly peril.

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's 1989 ecological thriller - Earth - foreshadowed global warming, cyberwarfare and near-future trends such as the World Wide Web. David's novel Kiln People has been called a book of ideas disguised as a fast-moving and fun noir detective story, set in a future when new technology enables people to physically be in more than two places at once. A hardcover graphic novel The Life Eaters explored alternate outcomes to WWII, winning nominations and high praise.

David's science fictional Uplift Universe explores a future when humans genetically engineer higher animals like dolphins to become equal members of our civilization. These include the award-winning Startide Rising, The Uplift War, Brightness Reef, Infinity's Shore and Heaven's Reach. He also recently tied up the loose ends left behind by the late Isaac Asimov: Foundation's Triumph brings to a grand finale Asimov's famed Foundation Universe.

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 Ph.D in Physics from UCSD - 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. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the California Space Institute. His technical patents directly confront some of the faults of old-fashioned screen-based interaction, aiming to improve the way human beings converse online.

Website: http://www.davidbrin.com/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/davidbrin1

Product Description


A masterpiece of rock-hard SF (SUN)

Cleverly argued and uncomfortably plausible (SUNDAY TELEGRAPH)

Brin tackles a plethora of cutting-edge concepts... with the skill of a visionary futurologist ... [conveying] the depth and breadth of his startling future. Existence is Brin's first novel in 10 years, and it's been well worth the wait (GUARDIAN)

Existence is bursting with ideas, including near-future tech, first contact with aliens, and the exploration of what it means to be human (io9.com)


An impressive introduction to one of SF's major talents (Publishers Weekly)

The seriously clever Brin has spent a lot of time thinking about big questions - and has devised a highly original yet plausible version of alien contact (BBC Sky at Night)

In Existence, David Brin takes on one of the fundamental themes in science fiction - and what is also one of the fundamental questions humanity faces in this century. Since Brin is both a great storyteller and one of the most imaginative writers around, Existence is not to be missed (Vernor Vinge)

Take a world soaked in near-future strangeness and complexity . . . Add a beautiful alien artifact that turns out to be the spearpoint of a very dangerous, very ancient invasion . . . Hotwire with wisdom and wonder . . . Existence is as urgent and as relevant as anything by Stross or Doctorow, but with the cosmic vision of Bear or Benford. Brin is back (Stephen Baxter)

Book Description

A groundbreaking, mind-blowingly ambitious new science fiction novel from the multiple award-winning classic author David Brin

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Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Kate TOP 500 REVIEWER on 4 July 2012
Format: Paperback
David Brin's Existence proved irresistible. It examines some of the biggest, most compelling themes. Is humanity alone in the universe, a mere freak of creation? If, on the other hand, there is intelligent life out there, why has it chosen to remain silent?

Brin's focus is on several characters in the near future, a time when space exploration has stalled but leaps in technology are fast and ambitious. Gerald is one of the few humans in space, gathering debris from the orbit of earth and flicking it into the planet's atmosphere for annihilation - he finds an Artefact, a non-human entity that communicates through him; Peng Xiang Bin lives on the margins of survival in Shanghai, a watery existence in the flooded ruins of devastated seaside mansions - he finds another artefact, which appears to be aware of the other found by Gerald. It doesn't like it; Hacker is a rich man who seeks thrills. He finds them in space, in self-funded rockets that peek into space before falling back to earth; Hamish is a famous film maker and writer, a celebrity, who works for a confederation that seeks to turn from the stars and heal the earth through the abolishment of democracy and the emergence of a more basic society run by a rich elite; Tor is a journalist who speaks for the flashmob. Seeking to report the truth about the Artefact, Tor finds herself in the unique position of seeing humanity from the other side.

This cast, as well as many others who come and go through the pages, slowly begin to circle around the space artefact, its opposing earth artefact, and show us the world that earth has become.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Kublai on 11 Aug. 2013
Format: Paperback
This novel has lots of interesting things to say about why aliens have not revealed themselves, and what the challenges are if a civilisation is to survive. But this is also the novel's big failing, because it tends to 'say' these things, rather than express them through the story. The characters generally all talk in the exact same scientific voice and are not so much characters as mouth pieces for Brin's points. It's what you would get if you took a series of essays and tried to convert them into dialogue. And every chapter is actually followed by an almost direct essay, supposedly from a future encyclopedia or expert.

Also Brin does't seem to understand how to use narrative within a novel. Some characters, who we've been following over hundreds of pages just disappear without any real conclusion. (SPOILERS!) What happened to Mae Ling, or to Hacker and his Dolphins - why did I read all about his story for it then to just vanish? Also, what about the glowing artifact that the dolphins discovered underwater? It just got completely forgotten about.

Having built up some tension at times, Brin just threw it away by not bothering to tell us the most exciting moment, completely ignoring the climaxes of several sections, and then telling us little bits in the following chapter in typical essay style. For example, the majority of the novel is about the two stones, one in the U.S and one in China. And just when the stones are about to be brought together to face each other - the point that the whole book has been moving towards - Brin stops his story and jumps forward twenty years. I mean... what was he thinking?! He's supposed to be a novelist.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By fjonny on 18 Nov. 2012
Format: Paperback
This could have been an interesting thoughtful book about the future and first contact with aliens, trouble was it's narrative was buried in a hotch potch of essays on related subjects that contributed very little to the story and made the book both irritating to read and in parts boring. Some of the material seemed to have been dumped into the book, having been written for other projects, and would have been better left out. Written in a more spare style this would have been a much better book. In spite of this I finished it and enjoyed reading some of it.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By D. J. Ketchin on 16 July 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
In 1982 David Brin published a paper on the Great Silence, the Drake Equation and Fermi's Paradox - the reason no signs of extraterrestrial civilisations have been found. Thirty years later he is revisiting this in a serious piece of SF. This weighty tome might claim to be his magnum opus. It is a serious piece of fiction somewhat less frothy than his Uplift series bearing more resemblance as it does to 'Earth' in style.

Are we alone? Where are the others? What is the mechanism for the 'Great Filter' preventing civilisations from filling the Galaxy. In existence Brin does not attempt to exploit these for cheap drama, the book is a liesurely tour through the various theories for the Great Silence. Along the way several solutions and pitfalls are examined.

Set in the near future , an Earth under pressure is exposed to an Alien probe bearing a mesage. The message is a promise, a trap and a solution. Can or will Humanity follow the path of prior civilisations or can we navigate our own way around the 'Great Filter'.

The book is a piece of thinking fiction proposing potential real physics solutions to the questions raisied in physics. Its not the most elegant piece of SF Ive read as its constrained by real universe physics and economics. It is a fantastic sleeper novel, though it requires some patience its worth the read.

This is a book for people interested in a hard look at our real universe. Its not a light and frothy , its thought provoking and very current. Not his most enjoyable piece , but a very worthwhile read.
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