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The Practice Effect [Hardcover]

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

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Product details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Bantam Books; BCE edition (1984)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00005WOXL
  • Product Dimensions: 21.1 x 14 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,540,375 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.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The book could use practice... 15 April 1998
By A Customer
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
4.0 out of 5 stars Good story, but a little weak in places 17 July 1998
By A Customer
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
3.0 out of 5 stars Early Brin, so be forewarned 2 July 1997
By A Customer
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brin had fun writing this one... 6 Feb 1998
By A Customer
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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By Marshall Lord TOP 500 REVIEWER
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars at least he was having fun 30 Aug 2011
By rob crawford TOP 1000 REVIEWER
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
love this book wish there was a sequal
Published 3 months ago by paul j withers
5.0 out of 5 stars great
A truly unique concept,well written and crafted.The storey unfolds holding the readers interest and the climax is enexpected.a very good read!
Published 10 months ago by Michael topley
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Idea
OK. It may not be Lord of the Rings and the story may be a bit twee, but the concept behind the Practice Effect keeps you thinking for a long time. Read more
Published 15 months ago by C. Sexton
4.0 out of 5 stars An early work but still great fun
This is a highly enjoyable book from a writer who has become one of the modern masters of SF. More a fantasy than hardcore SF, it still contains the first stirrings of Brin's... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Jennie Finch
4.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly enjoyable romp through a (slightly) alternative reality
Having just read Startide Rising and deciding to go back to the beginning, this obviously isn't quite as polished as Brin's later work but is still a fun read. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Denis Howe
5.0 out of 5 stars Practice makes perfect!
This is a cracker for anyone who enjoys sci fi /fantasy. I first read it when it was first published, way back when & 20 some years later it's still a great story
Published on 24 Sep 2012 by philarelli
4.0 out of 5 stars The practice is needed in spelling
I loved the book, but the proofreading sucks. "Needler" - as in gun - is spelled as "needier" throughout the book, which any half-competent proofreader should have spotted within... Read more
Published on 12 Aug 2012 by Igor The Annoyed
5.0 out of 5 stars Read it
A great book, pulling you in immediately. Buy it, and tell your friends to buy it, because it looks to be going out of print. Read more
Published on 18 Dec 2004 by Andrew Gubb
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Entertaining Read
Having recently discovered David Brin, this being the first of his works that I have read, I can honestly say it persuaded me to read more of his works. Read more
Published on 12 Dec 2000
5.0 out of 5 stars An exellent book well worth buying
Get it.
Published on 21 May 1999
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