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Kiln People (The Kiln Books) Hardcover – Bargain Price, January 12, 2002
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The Amazon Book Review
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Brin successfully interweaves plot lines as numerous as our hero's ditectives and doggedly sticks to the rules of his created dittotech while Morris's "realflesh" and clay manifestations slowly unravel the dangerous secret behind Maharal's disappearance. As Brin juggles his multiple protagonists and antagonists, he urges the reader to question notions of memory, individualism, and technology, and to answer the schizoid question "which 'you' is 'you?'" Brin's enjoyment is evident as he plays with his terracotta creations' existential angst and simultaneously deconstructs the familiar streetwise detective meme--complete with a multilayered ending. Overall, Kiln People is a fun read, with a good balance of hard science fiction and pop sensibility. --Jeremy Pugh --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
To me, Brin is always best when he remains grounded. Like someone said about his novel "Earth", extrapolating 1000 years into the future is easy. You have no reference point and who knows what scientific breakthroughs will take place over the next millenium. Extrapolating 50 to 100 or so years into the future, a future you may conceivably live in....that's hard to do. Hard to make fantastic and believable at the same time. He succeeded admirably in "Earth".
"Kiln People" takes place a couple of centuries from now. Society is a vastly different place, but the people in it are very familiar. The major difference? A technology which allows the user to create short-lived duplicates of oneself. These duplicates, called "dittos", made of clay, with a one-day life span, are infused with the personality and memories of it's archetype. The duplicates are assigned a variety of tasks, depending on it's original. Going to work for the day. Fighting prearranged wars that decide national issues. Sleuthing for missing persons.
And once the ditto has reached the end of it's useful lifespan, it's memories can be reinfused with the original user.Read more ›
Overall, this effort is interesting in it's central idea, but flawed in it's execution. The departure to some "super soul plane" dimension didn't seem to serve any purpose, and certainly didn't manage to solve any mysteries, spritual or otherwise.
Brin seems to be trying to send some sort of message about where technology is taking us on the spirtual level, but sorry, I just didn't get it! If you really liked "Earth" by Brin, with it's myriad of characters and somewhat contrived finish, then you will probably enjoy Kiln People. On the other hand, if you prefer his Uplift series or maybe the Practice Effect, you are going to find yourself little bit irriated at Brin for this one!
Kiln People is set in the near future, with a slightly advanced version of the internet, superlight electric cars, and one radical technological advance - "dittoing." Specifically, dittoing rests on the discovery that the mind (or soul) can be copied onto 24-hour clay copies of yourself ("dittos"), that can be designed to be smarter, stronger, breath underwater, or what have you, for the right price. If the ditto makes it back in time, you can even upload its memories back into your real head.
The main character, Albert Morris, is a private detective. Mostly, he works from his houseboat, sending dittos out to do his investigations, particularly those related to his arch-nemisis - "Beta" - a crimelord who specializes in pirating other people's personalities for his own dittos, and who Morris has never met in the flesh.
The story is inventive and clever, introducing us to the idea, then meeting wilder and wilder extrapolations of the possibilities created by ditto technology as Morris digs himself into a modern version of a film noir mystery. (Specifically, his story is close enough to the Big Sleep that I'm surprised no one recognized it).
I gave this 4 stars instead of 5 because of the ending, which I found unsatisfying.Read more ›
The moral question of who is real and who is not is an interesting one that is well-explored, a highlight of the novel. But the surrounding culture is not as developed as, say, the world of Jijo in "Brightness Reef" or the planet in "Glory Season." Brin makes a valiant attempt at fleshing out the world in the first hundred pages or so, but abandons any further attempts which might lend further tension to the mystery which is the core of the story.
And that mystery could use some help. While I was delightfully confused by the culprit for the first half of the novel, the gradual revelation of the crime details leads only to anticlimax. And, like the "The Postman," Brin's action finale makes you wish the last 100 pages had never happened. The ethereal spiritualism that follows is so abstract as remind the reader of "Heaven's Reach," the sad end of the latest Uplift Trilogy.
Another of Brin's strengths, at least compared to his peers, is character development. Alas, due to the very nature of the novel, the detective is the only character developed. Any other viewpoints are those of his doppelgangers, which are necessarily very similar to him.
Overall, I have to admit I enjoyed it, as I've enjoyed all of Brin's work. But if you want a stand-alone novel of his to try out, I'd try Glory Season. And if you want a sci-fi mystery of his, check out Sundiver.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Love this book! I actually have it as a paperback but wanted it on my Kindle. Easily one of my favorite books ever. If you love dystopian books, this is definitely a must-read.Published 8 days ago by Aileen
A classic. Some fascinating ideas here in a well told, rollicking story.Published 1 month ago by J. Porter
Fantastic first half: Original and thought provoking. Then comes the lame action-oriented and convoluted 2nd half. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Joe Mannor
Not Brin's best. Follows the old SciFi principle of having one unbelievable thing to believe, then follow the consequences. That was done well. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Mark H Mortensen
Where to begin??! Layers of adventure in a totally fresh spin. Layers of questions about technology, society, and identity. Fun and daring from the dodging and wet outset... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Dante D'anthony
Wow... what a concept. This is a great page turner with a glimpse into a very different, but potentially real world.Published 9 months ago by David Crabill