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Kil'n People [Paperback]

David Brin
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

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Book Description

5 Dec 2002

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.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 624 pages
  • Publisher: Orbit; New edition edition (5 Dec 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1841491527
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841491523
  • Product Dimensions: 10.9 x 17.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 303,981 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.


Product Description


This is not just a can't-wait-for-time-to-read-it book, but is clearly in the much higher category of don't-dare-interrupt-my-reading ... Underneath the frenetic story of our hero trying in multiple forms to save the world, are some very real questions about the nature of identity, selfhood and the soul. (NEWBOOKS.MAG )

A slick, thoughtful novel that shows not only Brin's immense story telling skills, but also the diversity of his range and imagination, confirming his place at the top of contemporary SF (ENIGMA )

The Uplift series: 'Brin writes space opera with rare panache . . . multi-layered, tightly plotted and excellently written (SFX )

Exceptionally vivid, imaginative and multi-layered ...Brin's detective story unrolls itself with the intelligence and finesse of a Bach fugue, does a fine line in wry humour, and asks some pointed questions about the nature of consciousness and reality (FOCUS )

Book Description

In KIL'N PEOPLE, award-winning SF writer David Brin has imagined a new future for mankind, as thrilling as it is terrifying. Be warned! It may be our tomorrow.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent science fiction 10 Jan 2002
DAVID BRIN has always had a talent for inventing new twists to familiar science, and in Kiln People he's come up with a cracker.
Bursting with ideas, memorable characters and witty new slang, his novel propels us into a colourful and fully realised future. In it, the technique called "soulistics" makes it possible to imprint a copy of a human soul's "standing wave" into a specially prepared clay duplicate to produce short-lived autonomous copies of the original human. These "dittos" live for just 24 hours. Millions of people lead multiple lives and transfer memories back from their clay selves.
Albert Morris is a private detective who uses dits for his tedious assignments. His latest case begins as a simple ditnapping but soon turns into something far more profound as Albert comes up against not one but three evil geniuses using soulistics for their own ends. The plot makes frequent and knowing use of pulp fiction plot devices, but Brin explores the ramifications of copying human souls into disposable slave bodies. Fun to read and thought-provoking.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
As with many of David Brins works, this novel is set on a highly imaginitive and detailed future. The core concept is that people can make copies of themselves. These copies only last for 1 day and their thoughts and experiences can be 'inloaded' by the real person before the 'dittos' dissolve.
This is a lighthearted piece, but it also makes some interesting philosophical and metaphysical points re the nature of self.
The plot revolves around the investigative work of a private detective and this allows him to both explore and explain the world around him. There are a few plot devices..copies can't make copies; copies are not exact duplicates but can be enhanced or detracted from (for instance to make them more able to study or even to be more obedient)
There is a large touch of the Philip Jose Farmers about the novel though, particularly as the various plot threads come back together for the final denouemen. My main complaint being the levels of deux ex machinery, which I found a little hard to swallow.
In conclusion.
I noticed that one of the other reviewers mentions 'The Practice Effect' and I'd agree that they are similar works. Both start with an interesting premise, but have a relatively slight plot and neither quite live up to what I would regard as the mainstream SF works that DB has written (that is his The Uplift novels).
Worth reading, but not Mr Brins best work.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great, yet thin, idea that runs out of steam... 18 Oct 2004
By MrShev
The premise of this book is great - a society that creates clay avatars that can do your bidding, and in the case of the main character, private investigating. The puns come thick and fast and the there are loads of ideas, some of which are intriguing and downright prophetic...
...but, however great the idea is one feels that Mr Brin has hung the book on that idea and that alone, and although the idea is a strong one the characters and the plot are the puny friends who tag along and are not strong enough to stand up for themselves. I didn't really empathise with anyone nor care what happened to them. One thing that Star Wars taught us is that great science fiction, no matter how good the science is, needs to be great fiction as well.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dances with golems 9 Oct 2004
By Stephen A. Haines HALL OF FAME
In the Morris Dance, raffishly-clad men silently gyrate around a great circle. Their colourful costumes are in stark contrast with their stern expressions as they dance their ancient, arcane ritual. When the dance ends, it doesn't cease with definite closure. Slowly, the action winds down with various dancers casually leaving the circle until none remain. As you watch the performance, you discern no meaning, no purpose to the noiseless pirouettes. The dance is an empty achievement, devoid of intent or result.
It's not hard to believe David Brin was inspired by the Morris Dance in writing The Kiln People. Not only is the protagonist named Albert Morris, but the story rests on the "lives" of Morris' clones. These "dittos" weave and pirouette through meaningless encounters with others of their kind, equally colourful, equally empty of value. They are temporary projections of their "rigs" [o"rig"inal real humans], but not true clones. Their skin colours reflect their intended role - black for "focused study," grey for general use, green for cleaning toilets and so on. The dittos have the original humans' memories implanted in them. They are then sent off to accomplish assigned tasks within their 24 hour life span. A "salmon reflex" urges them to return "home" to the rig and upload memories of their day's activities.
For Morris' dittos these activities are often investigative. Albert Morris is a PI [private investigator] - the Sam Spade of the twenty-somethingth century. Like all such characters, he has led a life fraught with danger, but it's his clay golems who suffer the risks. Brin, like his predecessors, uses this story to step up the pace of Morris' investigative life. Inevitably, this means the clone buffer is somehow eroded and Morris must confront his antagonists directly.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Science finction at its best 13 Jan 2003
I doesn't get much better than this -- an outstanding book. Brin takes a complicated story with a bewildering array of characters and produces a highly readable and entertaining book. It's not at all difficult to read, which is quite an achievement. This is the first David Brin book I've read. I just placed an order with Amazon for two more -- it's great to find an author of this calibre who I haven't read before.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars This book grabbed me from the first paragraph, and I never lost...
The premise (short-lived clones who are able to merge back with the original) is interesting, the world-building is strong, the hero is flawed but sympathetic, and additional... Read more
Published 23 days ago by illegiblescribble
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant!
An extraordinary book. I like everything David Brin writes,but this is one of the best. A unique science fictional 'world' that allows a fast-moving plot and plenty of action,... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Liz H-L
5.0 out of 5 stars THE BEST BRIN EVER
Of all David's novels, this is my favourite. It's such a pity he has stopped writing.

Nine years old and still fresh, the plot is cunningly imaginative, the scenario... Read more
Published on 11 Sep 2011 by R. P. Griffiths
4.0 out of 5 stars Mind-blowingly fabulous idea, not so good implemetation
This is a science fiction novel set in the future. Mankind has discovered a way of manufacturing an exact clone of a living person, with all his character traits and memories. Read more
Published on 10 May 2010 by Printul Noptilor
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining
Perhaps the best way to encapsulate Brin's latest book is its own (UK edition) tagline: "A Future Thriller". Read more
Published on 22 Aug 2004 by N. Clarke
2.0 out of 5 stars Disapointing from Brin
Although a mildly diverting read, this book simply failed to impress due to the inclusion of too many disparate themes (ethics, cloning, nature of god, ludism, tech. Read more
Published on 12 Feb 2004 by D. M. Laventine
4.0 out of 5 stars Starts Great, Ends Terribly
Cloning is one of the classic themes of science fiction, raising all kinds of philosophical interesting questions about consciousness, ethics, morality, and the nature of reality... Read more
Published on 12 Sep 2003 by A. Ross
5.0 out of 5 stars Kil'n People
This is a well written, highly funny book that made me laugh out loud in places. The multiple dittos were cleverly written to portray the different fascets of society today, and... Read more
Published on 16 July 2003 by Vikki Harris
5.0 out of 5 stars Probably Brin's best book so far
I really, really like The Practice effect, but since reading Kil'n people I've had a hard time deciding which is better. Read more
Published on 15 Jun 2003 by "athaclena"
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