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Existence (Kiln) av David Brin

Existence (Kiln) (utgåvan 2012)

av David Brin (Författare)

Serier: Uplift Saga (prequel)

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
7974421,235 (3.44)21
In a future world dominated by a neural-link web where people can tune into live events and revolutions can be instantly sparked, an active alien communication device is discovered in orbit around the Earth, triggering an international upheaval of fear, hope and violence.
Titel:Existence (Kiln)
Författare:David Brin (Författare)
Info:Tor Books (2012), Edition: First, 560 pages
Samlingar:Ditt bibliotek


Existence av David Brin

  1. 00
    Time av Stephen Baxter (Aarontay)
    Aarontay: Another resolution of the Fermi's Paradox.
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    Space av Stephen Baxter (Aarontay)
    Aarontay: Another attempt to explain the Femi's Paradox.

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I can't rate this one. I spent hours trying to discover the story...and I know it's in there, but, at a quarter of the way through the denseness, I realized I was blanking out for pages at a time, and had very little sense of what the story was about.

I've read and enjoyed a lot of Brin's work in the past, and this one looked tailor made for me.

But several hundred pages of highlighting every single piece of software, hardware, social media apps and any other human-interface upgrades he could think of, while also cycling through several different character arcs? No.

Tech is great. Just read any early William Gibson. But there has to be a story...a compelling story...to hold it together. And I'll admit, there is a compelling story, but I think it's one that likely could be told in half the pages, and I'm just not willing to continue to hack through this dense rainforest of words to find out how it ends.
  TobinElliott | Sep 3, 2021 |
Us science-fiction fans have been waiting for a long time for a new full-fledged novel by David Brin since Kiln People. It is finally here: Existence. I think Existence is on a par with the Uplift trilogy or Earth. It does indeed read like a more elaborate version of Earth. I remember re-reading Sundiver a few years ago and thinking how great it still is.

Existence is a big book. And by that, I don't just mean that it's long (although it is, clocking in at 553 pages on my Kindle) but that it aims at big ideas about... wait for it... existence. At the same time, it is an entertaining sci-fi work on the "first contact" theme starting when astronaut / space garbage cleaner Gerald Livingstone grabs a crystal out of orbit and brings it back to Earth, and it turns out that the crystal contains alien avatars and they are sending a message, "Join Us". Somewhere in China, an impoverished salvage collector makes a similar discovery in an underwater abandoned mansion, except the alien in his crystal is calling the other liars.

But that is only one story line in a book that weaves many threads (and ends up with a lot of loose ends as a result). Brin has created a futuristic world that has obviously suffered massive environmental and social catastrophes (Awfulday, the Autism plague). Global warming has drowned big chunks of the world.

Not everything has been lost, the Mesh (the Internet) connects everybody. Most people have implants that constantly plug them in with AIs, information from the web, smart mobs, and varieties of overlays. Different social movements have emerged, the so-called God-makers (the technology makers and pushers), the Renunciation movement who wants to slow things down and rejects some technology advancements, various religious movements. It sometimes felt like Brin was more interested in the whole gadgetry than his characters or his "world".

Overall, the world seems to be stratified according to a hierarchy of estates. The First estate is that a global caste of super-wealthy oligarchs who rule behind the scenes but are depicted as benevolent yet possessing a quite clear sense of entitlement. But Brin leaves this stratification system quite incomplete. Most of the characters are privileged people (except for the Chinese salvage collector). Even though it is mentioned in the book at some point that starvation has disappeared, this Chinese example shows that not to be true. And as global as the novel is, Africa is remarkably absent.

Somewhere, in there, one also finds the roots of Uplift, although that storyline is abruptly brought up, then abandoned, and does not do much for the whole book except give the Brin faithful the Origin story of Uplift. Abrupt changes of direction and loose ends left hanging abound in Existence. One such brutal change in direction is when the alien storyline really gets interesting, then, the book fastforwards decades out of nowhere... and then does it again until the end. I guess this last one is supposed to bring all the plotlines together but does not really and the book ends with no ending. Those last 30 pages were a bit of a slug for me.

Oh yeah, and there is a cloned Neanderthal child in there as well.

The cast of character is vast is it is not hard to keep track but one never knows if any of them will make another appearance once a chapter is over. And a lot of them don't. Hence the loose ends impression. To add to the confusion, supposed "excerpts" from books, manifestos, etc. are interspersed between chapters.

Up until the abrupt fast-forward, I was really enjoying the book although never knowing whether a character would reappear or had been dropped was annoying. After the fast-forward, I confessed to losing interest and I really had to drag myself across the finish line. ( )
  SocProf9740 | Jul 11, 2021 |
A big boring book on big themes that is mostly a collection of essays by Brin, nominally written or spoken by various characters. It starts with several action pieces, including an impressive episode whose content can be guessed from the fact that it previously appeared in All Star Zeppelin Adventure Stories. Some aspects of the near future are sketched out pretty nicely, and it's not all centered in the US. That takes us to page 190. After that it's pretty much sit and listen to Uncle David for the next 300 pages. Though there's passing reference to Uplift in one thread, the postscript makes clear this is not in the Uplift universe. The known laws of physics -- at least the cosmological ones -- are obeyed, but not any rules of plot or character development.

Not recommended unless you have found Brin's non-fiction writings fascinating. ( )
1 rösta ChrisRiesbeck | May 29, 2021 |
With a tip of the hat to the John Brunner classic "Stand on Zanzibar" David Brin is back with a novel of first contact. Set in the middle of the 21st century the Earth is a muddled mess, dealing with the effects of climate change, overpopulation, economic stagnation, and other sociopolitical ills. Everything changes when a odd looking artifact is retrieved from orbit and brought to Earth. This is not light beach reading. Unless you are on top of the latest thinking about group social dynamics, the search for ET's, etc. you may find yourself lost after several pages. Careful reading will give you one of the best SF novels written in a long time. Looking for a novel of ideas? This is the book for you. ( )
  Steve_Walker | Sep 13, 2020 |
David Brin is an icon in science fiction, and for good reasons. Brin's imagination gave us works like the Kiln People, the Postman, and of course, the seminal Uplift War saga in all of its glory. In his latest novel, Existence, Brin takes us to the near future, a world where mankind has continued to make mistakes, but has also made attempts at progress. We start by meeting Gerald Livingston, an orbital garbage collector. For a hundred years, people have abandoned 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. (end blurb)
The difficulty I have with describing or even assessing this book is that it felt to me like it was written in three different mindsets. The first 25% of the book falls into that class of science fiction that deals with world crisis - you may recognize the formula. The setting - near future. The cast - someone in power, someone outside of the corridors of power, and a reporter of some kind. Additional cast optional. The crisis - something outside of our control threatens the way of life globally - flood, solar flares, alien incursion, etc.. The artifact is uncovered, ripples reach out, and we see how these dozen or so lives of our cast are affected, in some ways interacting.

Then the book takes a shift.

I'm glossing over, because I'm trying to avoid any spoilers, but the next chunk of the book (@50%) left me growing impatient for something to actually happen. That isn't to say that there isn't action or progress, but the middle seemed to stretch on and on without any satisfaction of resolution. Towards the end of this chunck we get a lot of tantalyzing clues and suggestions about our place in the universe, answers to the Fermi paradox, etc.. I would classify this portion of the book as less sci-fi disaster novel and back down into the near future thriller genre.

Then came the last 25%. Neither crisis novel nor thriller, this part of the book was pure speculative space opera, which if we're talking science fiction, is known to be my preference. It'll be no suprise that I wish the writing in the last 25% of the book had actually been more like 75%.

Brin is very much in touch with modern technology, and it shows in this book. Our near future citizens aren't that displaced from today. The gadgets are shinier and smaller, but the concepts are the same, or at least taken to their next few logical steps. Its only after reading the Afterword, where Brin explains himself and the novel a little more, that we learn that a lof of that first 25% of the book was previously written material that was worked in. Although I enjoyed those bits - especially the homage to uplift - I didn't feel like they were satisfactorily given a conclusion. The same happened later in the book, where we were led along certain paths and then never saw the characters involved again, leaving those subplots just dangling.

Don't be discouraged. Existence was still a good read by a great author, just be prepared to do a little work to get there.

Thanks to NetGalley and Tor/Forge for an advance copy of the novel. ( )
  kodermike | Jul 31, 2020 |
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In a future world dominated by a neural-link web where people can tune into live events and revolutions can be instantly sparked, an active alien communication device is discovered in orbit around the Earth, triggering an international upheaval of fear, hope and violence.

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