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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 (520 )
5 star
 (158)
4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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Overall
3.7 (464 )
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Story
4.0 (467 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Kim Metcalfe, ON, Canada 12-15-12
    Kim Metcalfe, ON, Canada 12-15-12 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    24
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    119
    25
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    3
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    Performance
    Story
    "Good story, narration a bit odd"

    The story is good, as usual for Brin. Two of the three narrators sounded like they were reading for the Romance section, but one gets used to it and there are portions toward the end for which it seems appropriate.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    mary peyton 11-03-14
    mary peyton 11-03-14
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    4
    1
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    FOLLOWING
    0
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    Story
    "Mind Opening"
    Would you listen to Existence again? Why?

    Yes, this book has so many things going on I'm sure you will listen to it again in a year and be surprised by how much you might have over looked.


    What did you like best about this story?

    This books looks at a situation in multiple ways with having an over lapsing point of view during the book.


    What does the narrators bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    There are 3 narrators.


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

    It is makes me appreciate the world around me and develop greater and greater questions for understanding in the world around me.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Arturo Zapopan, Mexico 02-28-14
    Arturo Zapopan, Mexico 02-28-14 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    16
    16
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    FOLLOWING
    1
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    Performance
    Story
    "One word: Thorough"

    Thorough seems like a good word to describe this book. David Brin expertly covers each and every topic imaginable regarding the perils of existence of our species without ever becoming dull or repetitive (in my opinion). The narration almost read my mind, answering on queue whenever my mind thought: "Oh yeah? and what about X?" to which the book swiftly answered with an elegant and great answer.
    I've read other reviews which talk about some of the drawbacks in Existence. I agree with all of them. The cliffhangers are sometimes too far-apart from each other, the story timelines jump abruptly and without warning, it is very long, etc. I think it was good I read those reviews, as they prevented me from feeling the slightest of disappointment. In fact, by starting my listening with a slightly low bar in my expectations the book astounded me with its complexity, deepness, strong rationale and striking originality. This may not be the most hard-sci fi ever created, but it is close, and that alone makes it capital A amazing.
    This book is quite an accomplishment, you can feel the vast time Brin dedicated to think things through in such a thorough way. Despite any tiny stylistic drawbacks it has, I cannot recommend this enough for those who are passionate about good sci-fi.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ramona 10-02-12
    Ramona 10-02-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    14
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    300
    26
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    FOLLOWING
    1
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    Story
    "Interesting Concept"

    The concept and ideas in this story are interesting and a little bit different. You have to wade through a bit of detail but overall its a good story. Certainly worth a credit.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Russell David Phillips 07-30-12 Member Since 2015

    Trobnor Spillguts

    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    17
    2
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    FOLLOWING
    0
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    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.

    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    tom williams 07-13-12 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    10
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    177
    3
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    2
    2
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    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

    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark Dewald Colorado, USA 08-11-12
    Mark Dewald Colorado, USA 08-11-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    16
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    5
    3
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    1
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    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.

    6 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    SciFi Kindle Cheshire, CT USA 07-25-13
    SciFi Kindle Cheshire, CT USA 07-25-13 Member Since 2013

    I'm a Hard SF & Space Opera-loving, alien android from the future. I bring gifts of SciFi eBooks & accessories for your leader's Kindle. Take me to him/her/it.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    82
    ratings
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    Story
    "2 SF books (near-future + space opera) in 1"

    Big-idea grand space opera follows in the final quarter of this novel, the majority of which is set in a closer future, juggling problems and wonders that are nearly at hand. Both segments are brimming with more concepts than can be absorbed in one reading, and I spent a lot of moments pausing my reading to trace a modern trend to the logical extrapolation Brin had. The world he paints is connected to ours in quite believable ways, and experiencing it in this story feels like a "Cliff's Notes" summary of all the latest science and tech developments spun forward several years. One can't help but feel that Brin spends a lot of time reading science journals, then thickly gathering all the most promising and fascinating discoveries into his stories.

    The characters and plot events, while interesting, are not so memorable as the ideas being introduced. They feel like transparent vehicles for delivering grand theories on life in the cosmos, and how it will eventually look when encountered, given the dual challenges of vast distances and epochs separating civilizations. Two things that are done well in this novel are: reminding us of the truly insignificant scale of our place and moment in the universe, and illustrating many of the pitfalls surrounding us. Species extinction and civilization passing are taken as nearly unavoidable eventualities, and yet the tone here is not at all cynical, rather a celebration of diversity in the unfolding renaissance Brin sees us entering into.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Coe Seattle, WA, USA 04-01-13
    Coe Seattle, WA, USA 04-01-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
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    3
    3
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    0
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    Story
    "Great ideas"
    Any additional comments?

    I enjoyed this book because of the many cool ideas. David Brin excels at projecting current trends into the future, and his science is solid. I didn't identify with any of the characters, but I enjoyed their stories. I liked the near-future parts a lot, but then the last several chapters got less personal and thus less interesting. Or it might just be that the later parts focused on characters I didn't like. But we were supposed to dislike them, so I can't fault the book for that. All in all, I am glad I read this. I am still mulling over some of the new ideas.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Peter 09-25-12
    Peter 09-25-12 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    1
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    FOLLOWING
    0
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    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 8 people found this review helpful

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