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on 13 December 2013
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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on 16 February 2015
An unusual and enjoyable idea.
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on 22 July 2014
love this book wish there was a sequal
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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.
6 people found this helpful
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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.
One person found this helpful
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 5 August 2007
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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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.
3 people found this helpful
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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.
3 people found this helpful
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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.
6 people found this helpful
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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.
One person found this helpful
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