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Existence [Kindle Edition]

David Brin
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (228 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $9.99
Kindle Price: $8.54
You Save: $1.45 (15%)
Sold by: Macmillan

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Book Description

Bestselling, award-winning futurist David Brin returns to globe-spanning, high concept SF with Existence.

Gerald Livingston is an orbital garbage collector. For a hundred years, people have been abandoning 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.


At the publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied.


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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Take a world soaked in near-future strangeness and complexity... Add a beautiful alien artifact that turns out to be the spearpoint of a very dangerous, very ancient invasion... Hotwire with wisdom and wonder... Existence is as urgent and as relevant as anything by Stross or Doctorow, but with the cosmic vision of Bear or Benford. Brin is back."
—Stephen Baxter, bestselling author of Ark and The Time Ships

"In Existence, David Brin takes on one of the fundamental themes in science fiction—and what is also one of the fundamental questions humanity faces in this century. Since Brin is both a great storyteller and one of the most imaginative writers around, Existence is not to be missed."
—Vernor Vinge, bestselling author of Fire Upon the Deep and The Children of the Sky

"Existence is a book that makes you think deeply about both the future and life's most important issues. I found it fascinating and could not put it down."
--Temple Grandin, author of Thinking in Pictures

Review

"Take a world soaked in near-future strangeness and complexity... Add a beautiful alien artifact that turns out to be the spearpoint of a very dangerous, very ancient invasion... Hotwire with wisdom and wonder... Existence is as urgent and as relevant as anything by Stross or Doctorow, but with the cosmic vision of Bear or Benford. Brin is back."
—Stephen Baxter, bestselling author of Ark and The Time Ships

"In Existence, David Brin takes on one of the fundamental themes in science fiction—and what is also one of the fundamental questions humanity faces in this century. Since Brin is both a great storyteller and one of the most imaginative writers around, Existence is not to be missed."
—Vernor Vinge, bestselling author of Fire Upon the Deep and The Children of the Sky


Product Details

  • File Size: 1229 KB
  • Print Length: 896 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; Reprint edition (June 19, 2012)
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0079XPMQS
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #48,908 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
151 of 177 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fighting entropy June 19, 2012
Format:Hardcover
Could there be a more ambitious title than Existence? David Brin earns forgiveness for his hubris by pulling off a dazzling exploration of humanity's response to the inevitable end of everything -- a redefinition of human existence. No small story, Existence strives for epic status. It is far-reaching, thought-provoking, and above all, entertaining. Existence is an idea-driven novel that doesn't skimp on plot or interesting characters. The story -- structured as a tapestry of interwoven plot threads -- changes directions more often than a miniature golf course. Since no summary could do it justice, a quick identification of the threads will have to suffice.

Operating a long bola tethered to a space station, Gerald Livingstone grabs orbiting space debris before it can do any damage. After snatching a puzzling object from orbit, Gerald eventually realizes that it is a communication device, an alien emissary. Understanding what its many voices are trying to communicate becomes a daunting task that captivates the world's imagination. Peng Xiang Bin, collector of salvage in flooded Shanghai, finds a submerged object that closely resembles the orbiting artifact. Intriguingly, the "worldstone" is communicating a different message than its orbiting rival.

Hacker, the playboy heir to a fortune whose hobbies include amateur rocketry, befriends some unusual dolphins after his reentry vehicle crashes. Hacker's mother, Lacey, is a member of the powerful clade that exerts influence over nearly everything. Tech-bashing apocalyptic novelist Hamish Brookeman is a proponent of the Renunciation Movement, which wants to slow the development of technology until wisdom catches up.
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42 of 52 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
There is now a glut of futuristic, mildly dystopian books about humanity in the coming post-modern, near-singularity world. Vinge, Stross, Brin, and a dozen others have mined this field to the point where story telling has suffered, and ten-cent thinking has gloomed over the genre.

In this book, Brin makes two huge mistakes. He recounts a lecture delivered by one of his characters (and has another bored by it!). And he interlards a series of entries from made up guides, encyclopedias, and futuristic authors. Heck, he also from time to time has one character explain the world to another. These devices let Brin slip into his story telling a great amount of gloomy, the world is going to face challenges lecturing, and this is boring. Face it, we want to be shown these points of view through story telling, with wit and humor, not through lecturing.

When Brin does tell his story, he is pretty good. Interstellar civilizations using pellets, crystal stones that communicate. This first contact is both a puzzle and a threat. Pretty good tale, and interesting to read.

My quibble is that nobody in this book has any joy of life, any verve. Even when faced with extinction, I would hope that somebody, somewhere, has a joke to tell, or can spit in the face of death. Why write a book about gloomsters, facing gloomy situations with gloomy miens?

I liked this book at about a 3.5 stars level. I wish an editor would tell Brin to dump all lectures, all encyclopedia references, and all gloomy intonations from his next book. Tell us a story, do not lecture us like a group of sophomores trapped in a lecture hall.
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86 of 115 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Meh. Cool tech, but a long shaggy dog story. June 25, 2012
Format:Hardcover
Brin uses people to showcase his technology ideas when it should be the other way around.

I give this one a solid "meh".

Admittedly, I've never been a big fan of David Brin. I think he takes a basically interesting idea and stretches it too long with a lot filler. He's got some good characters - in fact he has so many of them that I don't end up caring much about any of them. He's got some clever science fiction ideas -- and that's what saves the book. What he doesn't seem to get, is that like all good fiction, science fiction is still ultimately about the people in the story, not the technology in the story.

There were four of five very interesting characters, but none were really the focus of the story. I didn't really get to know them terribly well, and in the end I didn't care much about them. There were other characters -- some of them with real potential -- that just sort of disappeared as their sub plots didn't merge into the developing story. I spent the last 1/3 of the book wondering what ever happened to a couple of them.

Meanwhile, the long shaggy dog story took several very clever turns, but only hours of reading after they were fairly obvious. Since the only reason the characters by this point seemed to exist was to expose the developing technology and the overall tech story, I wanted to slap them across the face and scream at them to get on with it instead of just blaring out more stilted expository dialog.

On the other hand, if you've a fan of David Brin's former work I guess you'll probably like this one too. He's such a respected writer, that I was looking forward to this one. I thought since it wasn't in his famous "uplift" series, it would give me a chance to get to know the author from a neutral position. I guess it did that, but I was disappointed by what I found.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, but falls short of the mark
Existence is an entertaining, but slightly annoying book. I think David Brin felt he was tackling some fundamental concepts of reality, but to me the book felt more like space... Read more
Published 11 hours ago by NWReader
5.0 out of 5 stars A very interesting story of first contact, with a ...
A very interesting story of first contact, with a number of unusual twists. In addition to the aliens this book deals with where we humans are going, and how our technology might... Read more
Published 17 days ago by Mark S. in NY
5.0 out of 5 stars Brin does it again!
As good as Kiln People but different. A great hybrid of some hard sci-fi, social sci-fi and the ever present questions good sci-fi asks like "What does it mean to be... Read more
Published 29 days ago by Ridgeback
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A magnificent solution to the Fermi Paradox
Published 1 month ago by James B Baron
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
I like it very much
Published 1 month ago by José Maria Matias
5.0 out of 5 stars and this book easily rates in the top ten (and well above "Contact")
I didn't expect this book to have the impact on me that I experienced. As a work of "plausible" sci-fi (i.e. Read more
Published 1 month ago by smallgrassyhill
3.0 out of 5 stars Too much blah blah blah
This is a pretty good 300 page novel crammed into 800 pages.
Published 1 month ago by Robert Hunt
3.0 out of 5 stars Cool premise, but loses focus halfway through
I was hugely impressed with Brin's ability to write characters who are as smart as they are supposed to be. Read more
Published 1 month ago by G. Simpson
1.0 out of 5 stars Terrible
This is David Brin????
This book was annoyingly bad. Re-read the uplift novels, or Kiln People or Glory Season instead. Skip this crap.
Published 2 months ago by Moose
5.0 out of 5 stars What can I say, its David Brin!
You either love Brin or you are confused by him. I'm in the love camp and this book predictably I loved. Read more
Published 2 months ago by John A
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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.

Brin lives in San Diego County with his wife and three children.

You can follow David Brin:
Website: http://www.davidbrin.com/
Blog: http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/DavidBrin
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/cab801

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Anything above $10 for an eBook (in any market) is cynical.
I agree with Mogwai. As a matter of principle I refuse to but any Kindle edition that is priced higher than a hardback. I don't care who sets the prices.
May 27, 2012 by Thomas A. McCubbin |  See all 8 posts
I do not appreciate Stephen Baxter's review revealing plot points.
I agree.
Jun 12, 2012 by Tim Knight |  See all 2 posts
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