Top positive review
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Are We Alone in the Universe? A Superb Story That Offers an Intersting Answer to the Question.
on March 11, 2012
David Brin has always been one of my favorite authors. I like his story-telling abilities, and his writing style is clean and crisp. In The Crystal Spheres, however, he deviates from his normal prose style and creates something more lyrical, more "other-worldy."
Brin writes in many scientific journal, and one of the topics to which he has contributed is the question of whether we humans are alone in the universe or not, and if we are not alone, just where is everyone? In The Crystal Spheres, he offers an imaginative explanation, but one perhaps not appropriate for the scientific journals. It is entirely appropriate for a science fiction short story, though.
Without going into too much detail, suffice it to say that Brin's explanation was quite interesting, both uplifting and sad, to an extent. And while this is a piece of fiction, after finishing the story, I so much wanted it to be true.
One thing I really liked about the story was Brin's writing technique of combining words. The story takes place far into the future, and it is logical that language would have evolved by then. Some authors, when faced with this scenario, take great pains to create entire new vocabularies. This can create a situation where more time is spent trying to decipher just what is being read than reading the story itself. What Brin does instead is combine everyday words into single words such as "goodstar," "greatdepression," "timestretched," and "smallbodies." The resultant words need no interpretation; however, they are different enough to interrupt the cadence of the story, giving it an almost lilting flow. And this gives a sense of verisimilitude to the narrative.
This is a very good story written by a very talented and accomplished author. This is not just my opinion. The Crystal Spheres was awarded the 1985 Hugo as the best short story of the year.