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Condition: Used: Very Good
Comment: A well-cared-for item that has seen limited use but remains in great condition. The item is complete, unmarked, and undamaged, but may show some limited signs of wear. Item works perfectly. Pages and dust cover are intact and not marred by notes or highlighting. The spine is undamaged.
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The Practice Effect (Bantam Spectra Book) Mass Market Paperback – January 1, 1995

4 out of 5 stars 68 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Series: Bantam Spectra Book
  • Mass Market Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Spectra (January 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 055326981X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553269819
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.6 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #836,914 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Michael Battaglia on September 20, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Gee, not every SF book has to be a deep exploration of the limits of the genre. Sometimes you just like to kick back and enjoy yourself. This is exactly what this book is, and it's a great read, fast and fun at the same time, while still throwing up some interesting concepts. David Brin normally is an acquired taste, his Uplift books are some of the best SF books around but then they to be heavy on the plot, stories seem to drag on for years (I think only recently he got around to resolving some stuff from the first trilogy) and he can be a bit wordy. Not here though. Granted the ideas aren't as mindblowing as elsewhere but you know what, who cares? The basis here is that an Earth scientist is sent to another world and trapped there for a bit. The world seems backwards and forwards at the same time, there is caveman technology sitting alongside highly advanced stuff, among other mysteries. The scientist (Dennis) has to try and figure out what the heck is going on before he gets killed, especially since a Baron is trying to take over everything. Sounds like fun, right? Dennis' solutions to get out of problems, especially once he figures out how everything works, are great, and Brin seems to delight in this world, putting a decent amount of detail into it. He uses a SF explantion at the end that makes a tiny bit of sense but by then it really won't matter. There's all sorts of good stuff here, from ingenuity to danger to suspense to action to a bit of romance as well. Even if this isn't the most innovative stuff it's well written and brisk and . . . fun. That's all I can say. It's a fun little book that is more memorable than some of Brin's other work simply because of that. And you can't go wrong like that.
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Format: Paperback
Once every so often, SF authors escape their genre and write something on a lark that turns out to be really special. That's the case with The Practice Effect. While I've generally found Brin a bit tedious (overlong, overplotted, overwordy), I loved The Practice Effect the first time I read it and enjoyed it at least as much when rereading it years later. It reads like Harry Harrison's best, or (most aptly) like The Flying Sorcerors. The hero is a technologically adept person, thrown into a less technological environment, who learns to combine his modern-day savvy with the peculiarities of his new environs to his considerable advantage. And, of course, to the delight of his readers.
The gimmick in "The Practice Effect" is too entertaining to give up in a review, but you'll enjoy every minute of seeing it exploited. It's a short book (I wouldn't mind more of these, actually) but one you'll want to read and re-read every word of.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
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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By A Customer on February 5, 1998
Format: Mass Market Paperback
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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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I've read everything Brin has published. He weaves a very real and believable story, usually based upon real science, or real theory.This book was obviously a departure into fantasy. I found The Practic Effect to be a fun light-hearted Sci-Fi fantasy. It was interesting to explore the notion of, "What if physics and natures laws worked differently, somewhere else?" It was, of course, written very well, in Brin's cinematic style.
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