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by David Brin

Series: Uplift Saga (prequel)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
7794121,061 (3.42)21
In a future world dominated by a neural-link web where people can tune into live events and revolutions can be instantly sparked, an active alien communication device is discovered in orbit around the Earth, triggering an international upheaval of fear, hope and violence.
  1. 00
    Time by Stephen Baxter (Aarontay)
    Aarontay: Another resolution of the Fermi's Paradox.
  2. 00
    Space by Stephen Baxter (Aarontay)
    Aarontay: Another attempt to explain the Femi's Paradox.

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English (38)  German (2)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (41)
Showing 1-5 of 38 (next | show all)
With a tip of the hat to the John Brunner classic "Stand on Zanzibar" David Brin is back with a novel of first contact. Set in the middle of the 21st century the Earth is a muddled mess, dealing with the effects of climate change, overpopulation, economic stagnation, and other sociopolitical ills. Everything changes when a odd looking artifact is retrieved from orbit and brought to Earth. This is not light beach reading. Unless you are on top of the latest thinking about group social dynamics, the search for ET's, etc. you may find yourself lost after several pages. Careful reading will give you one of the best SF novels written in a long time. Looking for a novel of ideas? This is the book for you. ( )
  Steve_Walker | Sep 13, 2020 |
David Brin is an icon in science fiction, and for good reasons. Brin's imagination gave us works like the Kiln People, the Postman, and of course, the seminal Uplift War saga in all of its glory. In his latest novel, Existence, Brin takes us to the near future, a world where mankind has continued to make mistakes, but has also made attempts at progress. We start by meeting Gerald Livingston, an orbital garbage collector. For a hundred years, people have abandoned things in space, and someone has to clean it up. But there’s something spinning a little bit higher than he expects, something that isn’t on the decades’ old orbital maps. An hour after he grabs it and brings it in, rumors fill Earth’s infomesh about an “alien artifact.”

Thrown into the maelstrom of worldwide shared experience, the Artifact is a game-changer. A message in a bottle; an alien capsule that wants to communicate. The world reacts as humans always do: with fear and hope and selfishness and love and violence. And insatiable curiosity. (end blurb)
The difficulty I have with describing or even assessing this book is that it felt to me like it was written in three different mindsets. The first 25% of the book falls into that class of science fiction that deals with world crisis - you may recognize the formula. The setting - near future. The cast - someone in power, someone outside of the corridors of power, and a reporter of some kind. Additional cast optional. The crisis - something outside of our control threatens the way of life globally - flood, solar flares, alien incursion, etc.. The artifact is uncovered, ripples reach out, and we see how these dozen or so lives of our cast are affected, in some ways interacting.

Then the book takes a shift.

I'm glossing over, because I'm trying to avoid any spoilers, but the next chunk of the book (@50%) left me growing impatient for something to actually happen. That isn't to say that there isn't action or progress, but the middle seemed to stretch on and on without any satisfaction of resolution. Towards the end of this chunck we get a lot of tantalyzing clues and suggestions about our place in the universe, answers to the Fermi paradox, etc.. I would classify this portion of the book as less sci-fi disaster novel and back down into the near future thriller genre.

Then came the last 25%. Neither crisis novel nor thriller, this part of the book was pure speculative space opera, which if we're talking science fiction, is known to be my preference. It'll be no suprise that I wish the writing in the last 25% of the book had actually been more like 75%.

Brin is very much in touch with modern technology, and it shows in this book. Our near future citizens aren't that displaced from today. The gadgets are shinier and smaller, but the concepts are the same, or at least taken to their next few logical steps. Its only after reading the Afterword, where Brin explains himself and the novel a little more, that we learn that a lof of that first 25% of the book was previously written material that was worked in. Although I enjoyed those bits - especially the homage to uplift - I didn't feel like they were satisfactorily given a conclusion. The same happened later in the book, where we were led along certain paths and then never saw the characters involved again, leaving those subplots just dangling.

Don't be discouraged. Existence was still a good read by a great author, just be prepared to do a little work to get there.

Thanks to NetGalley and Tor/Forge for an advance copy of the novel. ( )
  kodermike | Jul 31, 2020 |
If possible I would give the first 400 pages 5 stars and the last 160, 2 stars. I'll explain later. ( )
1 vote ShaneBX | Feb 4, 2020 |
The gap between what I was anticipating and what is presented (more than authored) is too wide - too bad :( ( )
  nkmunn | Nov 17, 2018 |
So far...hardcore sci-fi in the best way possible...tons to feast your mind on, so much complexity (and tiny print) that at times you just have to stop and sit for awhile to take it all in. Not the kind of book, though, you can afford to read if you don't have some time to commit to it. There are points in the novel when I'm tempted to put a stop it all, but there's something about Existence that just won't let go...
  booksandcats4ever | Jul 30, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 38 (next | show all)
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Those who ignore the mistakes of the future are bound to make them.

- Joseph Miller
To "Tether Joe" Carroll, who spins real space lariats . . .
"Doc" Sheldon Brown, who teaches time travelers . . .

. . . and Ralph Vicinanza,
who helped many dreams and dreamers to thrive.
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what matters? do i? or ai? + the question spins

The universe had two great halves.
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In a future world dominated by a neural-link web where people can tune into live events and revolutions can be instantly sparked, an active alien communication device is discovered in orbit around the Earth, triggering an international upheaval of fear, hope and violence.

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Average: (3.42)
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