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The Practice Effect Hardcover – 1984


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Product details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Bantam Books (1984)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00005WOXL
  • Product Dimensions: 21.1 x 14 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,454,199 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

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 15 April 1998
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book was written, clearly, before David Brin had "practiced" his writing skills to full effect. Characters are very flat, especailly the clicheed and obvious antagonist. The premise is interesting and the first 25 pages strong, and while some concepts are addressed with a flair that would come to be known as distinctly David Brin, it is painfully obvious in this attempt that he was more scientist than author at this point in his career. In fact, it makes an interesting study to see how far someone can go, how great someone can improve if they just... you guessed it... practice.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 17 July 1998
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Dennis Nuel is a scientist who is looking for other realities. While he is brilliant, he isn't very politically minded, and he is taken off his project to find these other worlds. When he is given the chance to explore a new reality, on the condition that he fix the machine that takes him to it, he jumps at the opportunity. Once Dennis arrives, he begins to notice some very strange properties in the world around him.
The Practice Effect, is a good read. It's entertaining, and presents some interesting ideas about space, and time. Brin's characters are a little under-developed, and the plot is weak in places.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 2 July 1997
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I rate books by the bathroom. A good book is one I find myself taking into the bathroom without conscious thought, and the exceptional book causes me to forget to the bathroom even exists. The pinnacle is the book which so enraptures that I forget to eat, somewhat negating my normal rating system.

Only novels by David Brin and Robert Heinlein have had that ultimate effect on me.

If your only exposure to David Brin is Startide Rising or the Uplift War and you're expecting the same overwhelming immersion into a foreign land, you'll be disappointed. Practice Effect is the first novel Brin wrote, although not the first published, and it is "only" a good read. It has the same heroic themes common in his latter works, but without the polish. The result is inevitably, and unfairly, disappointing to someone familiar with his later works.

On the other hand it may be a good introduction to Heroic SF, especially for juveniles. There's still the same action on a grand scale, "ordinary joes" changing the course of nations, friendly familiars (a bit more explicitly than the Tymbrini computers hidden in Tom and Gillian's quarters), and the smugly superior facing their own petards a-hoisting, but the heros and devils are clear from the start and the point of view doesn't jump among the many players.

Finally, as a would-be author I've found it useful to compare the writing in Practice Effect, Sundiver, and Startide Rising, in that order. They form a dramatic demonstration of how a writer matures. If you want to learn how to write books like Startide Rising or the Uplift War, start by learning how to write books like Practice Effect and then refine your skills from "merely" very good to Hugo- and Nebula-award winning.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By rob crawford TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 30 Aug. 2011
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is a one-time quick read, kind of like a disposable episode on TV. The characters are fun, if rather two dimensional, and the science in it is essentially magic. That being said, the plot is good and it keeps you reading. The story involves a student of "reality physics" who gets hooked into going to a far-away world that was populated long ago by humans. The student is a party animal, if something of a closet prodigy. He enters a world that is impossible to fathom, where the use of something somehow improves its performance by physically forcing it to evolve in accordance with the user's intentions. There is an explanation for this tacked on to make this scifi, but it is pure fantasy. There are some local actors, including a beautiful girl (i.e. love interest) and a power-hungry guy (i.e. bad guy) that steals a weapon from the student and becomes a great threat. While there are some interesting aspects - by relying on the transformations of the place, the people forget such basic technologies are wheels, to which the student reintroduces them - I was not wowed by this as I was by Brin's wonderful Uplift Universe.

Recommended as easy entertainment, but below the usual mark of this gifted writer.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 6 Feb. 1998
Format: Mass Market Paperback
If you are a physicist (like this reader), you will be rolling on the floor laughing. If not, you will simply find the book very, very funny. Brin sneaks in everything, from parodies of Star Wars to bad Latin puns. So it falls in the standard hero-goes-to-strange-country-and-makes-good, complete with Helpful Sidekick and Beautiful Damsel. So what? Brin obviously had great fun writing this one. I had fun reading it. Hope you do too.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This novel is very different, and much more light hearted, than the rest of David Brin's work. His later books have more going for them in terms of plot, character development, and dramatic tension. But this is one of the funniest science fiction books ever written.

To give you an idea of the humorous style: the chapter headings are mostly parodies of modern sayings rendered into latin, or latin phrases given a comic twist, such as "Sic Biscuit Disintegratum" (That's the way the cookie crumbles).

The story begins in the near future in our world, where a group of scientists have developed a machine called a "Zieviatron" which is an artificial gate to somewhere else. At first, they think it connects with parallel realities. Unfortunately the mechanism they have sent through to the other end, to send things back, has stopped working.

They need a volunteer to go through to the other side and try to fix the return mechanism. Dr Dennis Nuel is persuaded to accept the job. But what he finds on the other side is not what anyone expected ...

Really entertaining and strongly recommended.
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