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Existence | [David Brin]

Existence

Gerald Livingston is an orbital garbage collector. For a hundred years, people have been abandoning 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".
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Publisher's Summary

Best-selling, award-winning futurist David Brin returns to globe-spanning, high concept SF with Existence.

Gerald Livingston is an orbital garbage collector. For a hundred years, people have been abandoning 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.

©2012 David Brin (P)2012 Audible, Inc.

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.7 (434 )
5 star
 (122)
4 star
 (151)
3 star
 (90)
2 star
 (35)
1 star
 (36)
Overall
3.6 (386 )
5 star
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3 star
 (75)
2 star
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1 star
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Story
3.9 (387 )
5 star
 (140)
4 star
 (145)
3 star
 (65)
2 star
 (12)
1 star
 (25)
Performance
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  •  
    Janice 09-24-12
    Janice 09-24-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    3
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "An Excellent Future History"
    What made the experience of listening to Existence the most enjoyable?

    The book had excellent insights into what might happen in the near and not so near future.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    My favorite characters were the crystals.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    It was too long for that.


    Any additional comments?

    A most enjoyable future history!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    troy Canada 07-03-12
    troy Canada 07-03-12 Member Since 2010

    I really need to start proof reading my Reviews before I post them.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    113
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    95
    33
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    26
    4
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "This is an optimistic sci-fi story that inspires"

    The story is about how people learn from the mistakes from the generations before, and how they go about making their own.

    Every time there was a huge leap forward in the society, you could feel the hope and wonder the population was emanating... that moment of "what if". Then that wonderful hope was deflated by the nay-sayers, who didn't want society to change, to keep everyone in the status quo for their own selfish desires.

    I struggled with my this, my final paragraph, for a little while. Everything I wrote was laden with spoilers, imagined or implied. So I will say, I do hope our world can face the future with the dignity and ingenuity that was portrayed on our behalf.

    p.s. this story has aliens, cyborgs, uplifted dolphins, asteroid mining, habitations in space, caste based societies, underwater treasure hunting, and dirigibles.

    14 of 18 people found this review helpful
  •  
    tom williams springfield, mo United States 07-13-12
    tom williams springfield, mo United States 07-13-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    9
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    115
    3
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    2
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A bunch of unconnected storys"
    What would have made Existence better?

    Stick to one story, Just as it got interesting a new story would start that had nothing to do with anything, wasnt that good then you had to wade thru 3 or 4 more to find the 1st one. None of them completed till the end I guess I couldnt stand it. you end up with 5 or 6 diffeant storys going


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    Nothing by Brin


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Stopping


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Existence?

    None, I would put them in order or maybe with one side trip,


    Any additional comments?

    What a mess

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Peter 09-25-12
    Peter 09-25-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Perseverance will be required"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    Hmm. The listener hears a lot of internal monologues. A lot. And philosophical speculation and what-ifs. While it is interesting, it chokes up the first 8 hours of the book, requiring perseverance. After that, things start to roll. The "real" story takes shape, characters start becoming real and the plot lines unfold.
    However, I don't know if I would have stuck it out, if I had realized that this is apparently not part of a series, but a stand alone novel. At the time, I took the 8 fallow hours as investment. There are also some ideas that the author seems unable to pursue sufficiently, so maybe they should just have been edited out, or in some cases, fleshed out.


    What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

    Slightly surprising, mildly disappointing


    What three words best describe the narrators’s performance?

    varied, intense, enthusiastic


    Did Existence inspire you to do anything?

    In spite of the overall disappointment, I will definitely give David Brin's Uplift books a go. He is clearly an intelligent, deep thinker with story-telling abilities. I just wouldn't choose Existence to showcase his talent


    Any additional comments?

    For all the work he put into it and all the ground work the listener/reader has to endure, there should be more books building on Existence

    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Cummaquid, Massachusetts 06-25-12
    Michael Cummaquid, Massachusetts 06-25-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    87
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Very slow, over all pretty boring."
    Would you try another book from David Brin and/or the narrators?

    I am not sure I would try another Brin title but the narrators of this story are very good. I especially like Kevin Collins.


    Has Existence turned you off from other books in this genre?

    I like science fiction. I just like a faster paced adventure.


    Would you listen to another book narrated by the narrators?

    I would listen to any other story I find narrated by Kevin Collins or any of the narrators from this title.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    It was an interesting concept.


    Any additional comments?

    The narrators did their part pretty well, conveying feelings or expression but the story just went on and on. In my opinion I think this story with it limited doses of "adventure" could have been told in one 6 to 8 hour part. It is just to slow to be 30 hours long. I almost could not continue after part 2 of 4.

    8 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark Dewald Colorado, USA 08-11-12
    Mark Dewald Colorado, USA 08-11-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    5
    3
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Story? What story?"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    If you like mentally hopping around as if the menagerie of thoughts being portrayed were brief yelping moments on a bed of hot coals, Brin is your guy. Frenetic is the word. I saw this guy on the science channel, and thought well, he might be able to write a good story. Boy, was I wrong. The synopsis completely suckered me into thinking there was a story. That's the last time I'll trust one of those, I guess. I wish Arthur C. Clarke could have lived longer. I have only lost interest in one of his novels, and I've read about eighteen of them.


    Would you ever listen to anything by David Brin again?

    Only if someone I trusted told me that another book he wrote was worth it.


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of the narrators?

    It wouldn't help.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    frustration.


    Any additional comments?

    nope.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert Southfield, MI, United States 08-03-12
    Robert Southfield, MI, United States 08-03-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    10
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    15
    14
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Half novel, half philosophy rambling"

    It was difficult to find the story among the many disjointed character and commentators in the book. The cadence of the performers seem to be deliberately slow and staccato. It drove me crazy until I increased the playback speed to 1.25X. Two of the three performers are quite good, while the third is among the worst I've heard. The wildly random jumps in character perspective along with unexplained leaps in time, along with several subplots that just drop and go nowhere made this a confusing mess.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Russell David Phillips 07-30-12

    Trobnor Spillguts

    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    2
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Uplifting (heheh)"
    If you could sum up Existence in three words, what would they be?

    optimistic hard scifi


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Existence?

    Reporter in the blimp.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The description of walking down the street and the vr overlay early in the book.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    No extreme reactions.


    Any additional comments?

    This is a really interesting book. The story is based on lots of recent trends happening in the world in science and other wise and extrapolating some really interesting permutations of where it could all lead and how the world responds to events. Transparency, the prevalence of cheap and good recording, climate, over population, direct and instant access to information, real time VR overlays, etc...

    David Brin goes a different direction than many other books that take one trend or new technology and then postulates some future taking it to some ridiculous extreme. Creating some bizarre future that bears no resemblance to our own history or present. Where everyone is grown in a vat and controlled by the state or everyone lives in isolation never seeing each other, etc...

    Instead he (much more realistically) presents a world with literally massive amounts of people all with their own ideas, prejudices and goals all working against and with each other. Many things like improving VR technology, cheap and easy camera technology, social networking and instant access to vast amounts of information, climate change, genetic tinkering, etc... All advance, become part of the world and blend in different ways. Causing problems, solving problems, etc... A very rich world with lots of layers and very believable. You could easily recognize the world he presents evolving from our world.

    I also enjoy how he presents different peoples viewpoints. Never mocking the ideas of others but instead embracing them and respectfully presenting the validity of varied positions and the arguments they present. Very mature.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andrew Pollack Cumberland, Maine USA 06-25-12
    Andrew Pollack Cumberland, Maine USA 06-25-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    106
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    153
    34
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    3
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Meh. Typical Brin - clever short story padded out"

    Brin uses people to showcase his technology ideas when it should be the other way around.

    I give this one a solid "meh".

    Admittedly, I've never been a big fan of David Brin. I think he takes a basically interesting idea and stretches it too long with a lot filler. He's got some good characters - in fact he has so many of them that I don't end up caring much about any of them. He's got some clever science fiction ideas -- and that's what saves the book. What he doesn't seem to get, is that like all good fiction, science fiction is still ultimately about the people in the story, not the technology in the story.

    There were four of five very interesting characters, but none were really the focus of the story. I didn't really get to know them terribly well, and in the end I didn't care much about them. There were other characters -- some of them with real potential -- that just sort of disappeared as their sub plots didn't merge into the developing story. I spent the last 1/3 of the book wondering what ever happened to a couple of them.

    Meanwhile, the long shaggy dog story took several very clever turns, but only hours of reading after they were fairly obvious. Since the only reason the characters by this point seemed to exist was to expose the developing technology and the overall tech story, I wanted to slap them across the face and scream at them to get on with it instead of just blaring out more stilted expository dialog.

    On the other hand, if you've a fan of David Brin's former work I guess you'll probably like this one too. He's such a respected writer, that I was looking forward to this one. I thought since it wasn't in his famous "uplift" series, it would give me a chance to get to know the author from a neutral position. I guess it did that, but I was disappointed by what I found.

    10 of 16 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bill 09-21-14
    Bill 09-21-14
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Most disapointed in the unfulfilled potential."
    What did you like best about Existence? What did you like least?

    The story seemed new and that made for an interesting beginning. Soon the story starts to jump ahead past in time, without much warning of what is happening. What is even more frustrating is that the author seems to be jumping past parts of the story that would be great to hear with what amounts to "Ten years later". This is a device that can be helpful to move past tedious parts of a story, but in this case you miss out on plot I never feel gets made up for. Sometimes it also seems like an act of Deus Ex Machicina to help the writer out of a corner they have painted himself into.


    What about the narrators’s performance did you like?

    Two of the three narrators turned in solid performances. I am not generally a fan of multi-narrator books. In this case several characters are assigned to each narrator, and parts of the story from their perspective are by that narrator. It is distracting when characters from different narrators meet, and their personality is changed by that narrators take on the character.


    Do you think Existence needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    I think it would have been better if David Brin had taken two books to tell this story. There is enough story here if it were not glossed over with jumps forward in time. But the way he has chosen to write this has rendered it unnecessary.


    Any additional comments?

    This book is would not be a a total waste of time, but there are many more books I could suggest before you take the time to listen to this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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