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Customer reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
23
4.4 out of 5 stars


on 5 October 2017
I bought this book years ago in paperback and loved the originality of it. Many years later it still remains one of my favourite sci-fi books.
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on 5 November 2017
Different physical laws in a different world make for some interesting happenings. Well written, enjoyable.
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on 20 November 2017
Briiliant! Reminiscent of older SF, but brought up to date.
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on 21 September 2017
Intelligent and funny. Love it.
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on 15 April 1998
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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on 12 December 2000
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. Unlike some of the earlier reviews, I prefer this style of this book to the later Uplift novels. The work is amusing, lighthearted and gives an interesting touch to the more normal plots. David Brin clearly enjoyed writing this book and the less controlled examples of lab humour appeal to me and I'm not a physicist either! If you are looking for a modern 'heavyweight' novel then avoid this one. If you like your books engaging and amusing with the odd rough edge to add to the orignality, then this is a worthy addition to your library.
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on 17 July 1998
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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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 30 August 2011
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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on 6 February 1998
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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on 2 July 1997
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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