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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
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...
Published on 17 July 1998

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The book could use practice...
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...
Published on 15 April 1998


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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
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
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
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
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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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 "Rob Crawford" (Balmette Talloires, France) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
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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5.0 out of 5 stars If you like puns, this is for you!, 4 April 1997
By A Customer
One of the funniest SF novels ever. I have been waiting *years* for this to be re-issued!
The setting of the first part of the book is in an advanced physics lab located in an oil-rich Middle Eastern state. Physics has gotten too expensive to be afforded by "first world" countries, and scientists must go where funding is available.

Our Hero, who is a physicist (like the author) is deeper than he wants to be in lab politics. He gets volunteered for a risky mission, and the camping gear he requests be purchased from a mountaineering outfitter is bought instead from a discount store by a rival junior scientist, who wants him permanently gone.

NOTHING in the new world is as he expected it to be. . . .
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5.0 out of 5 stars great, 13 Dec 2013
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This review is from: The Practice Effect (Bantam Spectra Book) (Kindle Edition)
A truly unique concept,well written and crafted.The storey unfolds holding the readers interest and the climax is enexpected.a very good read!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Idea, 30 July 2013
By 
C. Sexton (Bath, England.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Practice Effect (Bantam Spectra Book) (Kindle Edition)
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. I first read this book not long after it got published in the 80's and, whilst I may have forgotten the storyline, I've often thought back to the central idea of improving with use as opposed to deteriorating. Move this idea into a fantasy setting and you could write a whole new book!!

Brilliant idea, twee storyline, could have made the book a lot longer.
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4.0 out of 5 stars An early work but still great fun, 8 April 2013
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This review is from: The Practice Effect (Bantam Spectra Book) (Kindle Edition)
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 later interests, especially conservation and social structure. This makes it sound as interesting as drying paint but actually this is a funny, witty and clever book. I am collecting my favourites on my Kindle to have with me when I travel. This was an easy and early selection.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly enjoyable romp through a (slightly) alternative reality, 28 Feb 2013
By 
Denis Howe "foldoc.org" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: The Practice Effect (Bantam Spectra Book) (Kindle Edition)
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. There just aren't enough books with nerdy heroes called Denis.
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