Existence Hardcover – Jun 19 2012
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“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
About the Author
DAVID BRIN is a scientist, speaker, technical consultant and world-known author. His novels have been New York Times bestsellers, winning multiple Hugo, Nebula, and other awards. Brin lives near San Diego, California, with his wife and their three children.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
For you do not know what a day may bring forth." -- Proverbs 27:1 (NKJV)
This story is both strange and familiar, a curious combination in science fiction considering extraterrestrial life. I found the speculative element to be intriguing, but the book started so slowly that I found it hard to stay focused on it.
The novel is really just a device to explore the question of how one should search for and communicate with extraterrestrial life (if it exists). I suspect that I would have been just as happy with a fifty page article explaining our understanding of the possibilities and what the pros and cons of each are.
The novel was made more rewarding, however, by intriguing extensions of current trends to see where they might lead. As such, some of the details are probably more significant for informing us on what to do today than the main focus of the book is. As an example, what will it mean as the boundaries between "human" and "machine" blur? What are the appropriate limits for using chemicals to optimize performance?
One of my favorite themes in the book is the continual questioning about what we are blind to that's more or less right in front of us.
The drawback of the novel approach is that it's a long way to get across some pretty simple (ultimately) ideas. I had a pretty good time, but I did feel as if I were slogging for much of the time.
And then we move into Part Seven and we are years into the future of the story. Compelling and interesting events are alluded to but not explored. I feel this could have been a compelling trilogy.
Brin has some brilliant ideas, as he always does. But, for me, I feel he forced them into one book, leaving some great things out. I enjoyed the book but it pains me to give David only a four star rating.
In this case the external plot driver starts with an apparent alien artifact with messages from multiple different civilizations, and how humanity responds to this event. Quickly it becomes apparent that not all is as it seems.
In the past I think Brin's biggest weakness has been a tendency towards over-the-top endings. Here he takes a very different approach - right when the story is moving towards an apparent climax it suddenly jumps several years in the future in the aftermath of the original conflict and introducing what in some respects is a whole new set of events, and then makes another jump of several years before reaching a conclusion. Somehow this approach works though, and the final resolution felt appropriate and believable.
I can see how some people might not like the style of the book - it is somewhat disjointed with pieces being told from different perspectives with incomplete knowledge of the big picture, and some chapters being almost unrelated to the main story - if you're looking for a cohesive narrative then this may not be for you.