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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

3.6 (405 )
5 star
 (115)
4 star
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Overall
3.6 (358 )
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Story
3.9 (359 )
5 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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  •  
    Arturo Zapopan, Mexico 02-28-14
    Arturo Zapopan, Mexico 02-28-14 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    16
    16
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    "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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Heye York, PA, United States 01-21-14
    Heye York, PA, United States 01-21-14 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
    15
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    9
    3
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    0
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    Story
    "Boring, couldn't keep my interest"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    Definitely Not


    Would you ever listen to anything by David Brin again?

    No, if the other books are anything like this one I probably won't. I'm putting him on my do not listen book.


    Could you see Existence being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

    No


    Any additional comments?

    No much more to say. I listened to the book for hours hoping that it would improve, but it was just too strange and boring.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Thesle Wyoming, Australia 10-26-13
    Thesle Wyoming, Australia 10-26-13 Listener Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
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    41
    5
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    "Dedication is needed to make it through the tedium"
    What would have made Existence better?

    Brin describes every scene in extreme detail, describing every crease of the (virtual) page, but never really progressing the plot. The first three quarters of the story hardly advances the plot at all. The final quarter skips past huge chunks of the plot that should have been written in place of all the filler that has been used. If your like women's magazines you might like the book but look elsewhere if you find a novel with a plot more interesting. To improve the story Brin would need to remove all the descriptive fluff that contributes nothing to the plot.


    What was most disappointing about David Brin’s story?

    It would appear that Brin is being asked to write longer and longer novels but can't come up with a plot that suits a longer novel. There are very few elements of the story that keep your interest and very few times when you are eager to find out what comes next.


    Did the narration match the pace of the story?

    The narration is done by a male and a female. I find that the compression algorithm makes the sibilance in the female voice difficult to listen to. However, I would never have read this novel as a book as the story is just far too tedious. I listened to the story in the car when there was nothing better to do. Distraction isn't a problem as you can miss five minutes occasionally and you won't miss any plot points.


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

    Boredom.


    Any additional comments?

    Try some of Brin's earlier works as some of these are great. Avoid this one, however.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Darrin C. Barth Hiram, Georgia USA 09-27-13
    Darrin C. Barth Hiram, Georgia USA 09-27-13 Member Since 2012
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Way Too Editorial for Fiction"
    What disappointed you about Existence?

    This is not fiction. It's an authorial comment on everything technology and everything evolution, with a little bit of fiction here, and a little bit of fiction there. I buy audiobooks that are as lengthy as I can get them because I love to re-listen. Rarely do I not finish a book. But though I tried to slog through it, I was thoroughly let down. I had expected epic fiction and got this author's glorified opinions hidden behind a few half-hearted characters. It would be great writing {if you appreciate those opinions} if it wasn't in the fiction genre category. Fiction this is not. It is editorial.


    Would you ever listen to anything by David Brin again?

    No.


    Have you listened to any of the narrators’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    These three narrators are some of the best that Audible has to offer. I have books narrated by all three of them. But even their combined talents couldn't make this worth the listen. There's just not enough story here. And what is here, is in too many separate pieces.


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

    The only thing I could even begin to appreciate about this book was that the sex is absolutely minimal for a modern sci-fi novel. In fact it's almost non-existent.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Hayward, CA USA 08-24-13
    Amazon Customer Hayward, CA USA 08-24-13 Member Since 2007

    -kls

    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
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    49
    4
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    "Long"
    What disappointed you about Existence?

    This is the first time that a David Brin story has left me bored for practically the entire journey. Mr. Brin decided to try his hand at Science Fiction set in a strictly Einstein conforming Universe.

    In itself that isn't such a bad idea, but the story simply plods along too many plot threads few of which hold any really interesting developments. It also feels bizarrely as if Mr. Brin was trying to leave an opening to tie this universe into his Uplift series, but as interesting as some of the backfilled story could be, there are occasional references to uplift activities which have only a peripheral relationship to the central plot and have no challenges to overcome within the story line making it unclear why they are there at all.

    Toward the end of the book it feels as if Mr. Brin got bored with what he was writing. The timeline moves painfully slowly through the first two thirds of the book, then fast forwards years at a time toward the end as we get a quick summary of the results of events set in motion earlier. This too is disappointing.

    Instead of telling stories of endless conniving by aristrocratically entitled idiots (among other plotlines), why not tell us about the debates that allowed humans to actually decide their future. Instead of telling us the story of how we managed to find a path out of the difficulties we were facing, the eventual success of human civilization is entirely gobbled up as fait accompli by the summary chapters that form the conclusion.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    SciFi Kindle Cheshire, CT USA 07-25-13
    SciFi Kindle Cheshire, CT USA 07-25-13 Member Since 2012

    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
    24
    ratings
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    70
    40
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    4
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    "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.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brian Diamond Bar, CA, United States 07-17-13
    Brian Diamond Bar, CA, United States 07-17-13
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    13
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "More Philosophy the Story Line"
    What disappointed you about Existence?

    Too much philosophical perspectives and no gripping story line that keeps you wanting to hear more.


    What could David Brin have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    More story line and less philosophical rambling.


    Did the narrators do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

    They were ok. I didn't much care for the female narrator portraying a Jamaican man.


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

    I would cut out lots of the philosophical perspectives and develop a more intriguing story line to keep my audience wanting to hear more.


    Any additional comments?

    Each to there own, as the saying goes. This just had too much philosophical ramblings for me...

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John NORTH EAST, MD, United States 06-10-13
    John NORTH EAST, MD, United States 06-10-13 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
    ratings
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    8
    7
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    "Where did they go?...... Not Brins best!"

    Main characters disappear or are remanded to small roles. This is also several books smushed down to one. Things are moving along and then suddenly you are 26 years in the future.

    There are some good parts but you are left hanging several times and the story line gets twisted.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Coe Seattle, WA, USA 04-01-13
    Coe Seattle, WA, USA 04-01-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    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.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Jamaica 08-27-12
    Amazon Customer Jamaica 08-27-12 Member Since 2010

    Listening is not the same as reading, but it is still fun

    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
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    113
    9
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    0
    6
    Overall
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    "Oh God it is hard to listen to."

    I really wanted to like this book. I have not had a decent book to listen to for a month so I took it hoping it was good.

    The story is as slow as molasses in winter. The narrator makes an real effort to convey emotions but there is just nothing here. I am going to try again but I don't know if I can bear it.

    I am tempted to say avoid this book

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
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