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Existence (Kiln) [Kindle Edition]

David Brin
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (206 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


"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


"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: #24,793 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
146 of 171 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fighting entropy June 19, 2012
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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36 of 45 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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25 of 33 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An ambitious, captivating novel of first contact. June 20, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
It's been long enough since I read one of David Brin's novels that I had forgotten how much fun he is to read! It's been more than 10 years since I read Earth, The Postman, and some of the Uplift novels. Existence exceeds the accomplishments of those. Set a generation or so in the future, Existence follows the impact on society of the discovery of an artifact from another world. An astronaut collecting space junk runs across a crystal orb that turns out to be a communication device with a message for the people of Earth. As it turns out, there are similar objects on Earth and in orbit already, and they all suddenly have something to say.

Brin follows several plot lines, which eventually weave in and out of each other. For most of the book, I was taken in, and just when I started wondering what was happening to another character, the story would shift to another plot line. Brin's scientific and sociological ideas are challenging and always relevant to the story, but he does make the story his priority. I do admit though, that when, about 3/4 of the way in, he shifts 20 years into the future, and then another 20 years or so, the character and momentum of the story changed a bit too much for my taste. I read to the end, and enjoyed it, but that last 1/4 was less compelling than the first 3/4.

One of Brin's strengths in Existence is the near-future use of data and communication. He takes cell phones and social networking down a very believable path, where people have the internet in their glasses or contacts, where information flows like water, and where everyone can know just about everything about everyone.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Good and fast reading
Une bonne introduction à la série des "Elevation". On retrouve la techique de Brin, point de bue multiple, précision des descriptions.
Published 29 days ago by Jean-Luc Delaveau
1.0 out of 5 stars disjointed and all over the place
i picked up the book cause i thought the storyline sounded interesting.

I found the heavy usage of futuristic slang to be a turnoff and made it hard to follow (e.g. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Gino Lee
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit of a slog, but a must for fans of Brin
I enjoyed Brin's return to a harder sci-fi angle. There is a lot to chew through here and the explorations of human/machine interfacing and integration were intriguing in their... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Jim
4.0 out of 5 stars A different kind of "first contact"
Very good exploration of artificial intelligence, the nature of the "silence" that we hear from the universe, the "evolution" of smart probes that reproduce and... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Bill Miller
1.0 out of 5 stars An editor, my kingdom for an editor!
I have enjoyed many of David Brin's books but Existence is bloated, pretentious, chaotic, and ultimately nonsensical. Mr. Brin, get a new editor. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Complex but fascinating
There are enough ideas in this book to write at least a half-dozen novels. Just when you think he's explored the possibilities, he throws another twist at you. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Dennis O. Wasnich
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting writer
Quite a good science fiction writer as you would expect for someone associated with UCSD. He was keynote speaker at part of the Mensa Convention last year.
Published 1 month ago by Gary Rulapaugh
5.0 out of 5 stars Greeting the scary, messy future with a a playful smile and determined...
Its main plot (the discovery of some alien artifact) aside, this book presents the best view of the near future that I have yet seen. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Dakota Schneider
5.0 out of 5 stars Big ideas
After 10 years between books, David Brin finally published a new novel - and quite possibly his best yet. Read more
Published 2 months ago by I. Mitchell
2.0 out of 5 stars digressive and shapeless
This book seems more like an overwrought essay on current scientific and philosophic theories of xenobiology and cybernetics than a novel. I did not find it entertaining. Read more
Published 2 months ago by isleofreil
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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:

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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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