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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 (429 )
5 star
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3.6 (382 )
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Story
3.9 (383 )
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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  •  
    Kathi Safford, AZ, United States 09-03-14
    Kathi Safford, AZ, United States 09-03-14 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
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    8
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    "So thought provoking it was almost over my head..."
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    Less technical jargon for me but it certainly kept the flavor of the book front and center. Also - still not clear what the tie in was with autistics.


    If you’ve listened to books by David Brin before, how does this one compare?

    First one (and probably last)


    Which character – as performed by the narrators – was your favorite?

    Tor (if spelled correctly)


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

    Yes. Charlize Theron as Tor.


    Any additional comments?

    This was a bookclub choice, or I wouldn't have read it. I loved that I did....and made it all the way through. Very interesting ideas.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Peter Bremerton, WA, United States 08-31-14
    Peter Bremerton, WA, United States 08-31-14 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
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    40
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    Story
    "Story plot reminded me of a kid on a Pogo stick."

    In the end I came to understand the philosopy of where the author was going, but the trip to there was hard. The story plot jumped around way too much for my taste, found it boring and a drudge at too may times. Also, I was never sure who the main characters were, still not. The most redeaming part and the only reason I slogged my way through was the perfomance of the narrators.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    ozgribbo Australia 05-27-14
    ozgribbo Australia 05-27-14 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    16
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    "An epic in every sense of the word."

    This is a long, long book and it is easy to lose concentration with all of the different threads. Lots of good (if re-worked) ideas. But it went on far, far too long and ended with a bit of a fizzle. The narrators/performers did a great job doing the huge list of characters and they kept my interest going. Needs a radical pruning/abridging and a bit more "oomph" in the ending. Disappointing.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Arturo Zapopan, Mexico 02-28-14
    Arturo Zapopan, Mexico 02-28-14 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
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    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
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    3
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    "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
  •  
    Jim "The Impatient" Springfield, MO, United States 11-12-13
    Jim "The Impatient" Springfield, MO, United States 11-12-13 Member Since 2010

    I will listen to NO boring book. Old Fav's,Card, King , Hobb. New Fav's, Hill, Scalzi, Sawyer, Interested in Lansdale, Crouch, Konrath

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "WHY IS THE FUTURE ALWAYS IN THE FUTURE"

    THESE PEOPLE SHOULDN'T BE TRUSTED WITH A BURNT MATCH
    If he had made two books out of this I most likely would have liked it better. One book with the story in it and one with the science fiction talking points. Some parts of this are actually very good. I especially liked the science discussions. In parts he discusses how aliens may actual make contact. It is a theory similar to putting a message in a bottle and throwing it out in space. In another part he discusses how it may be stupid of us to be trying to make contact with other races. Giving the example of our history and what usually happens when one more technically advanced race meets another. It is almost never good for the less advanced race.

    A lot of the story parts were just not that interesting. I enjoyed following the Chinese couple living in a make shift house boat, but could not connect with the rich guy, the astronaut or most of the other characters. I also did not enjoy the uplift trilogy. If you enjoyed the uplift trilogy you will probably like this. This also reminded me of John Brunner's "Stand On Zanzibar" Several parts of this are like reading a newspaper from way in the future.

    One reviewer said give it 8 hours, I gave it 9 hours and just did not want to spend the rest of my working week, listening to this disjointed story, newscast, or science nerd discussion program. If you are new to science fiction and or science lingo, you will probably not enjoy this. If you like Brin's other works or John Brunner, you may love this. I liked The Postman, but I could not get into this.

    There are a variety of narrators and one of them is a little hard to hear.

    1 of 2 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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    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
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    "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
    4
    ratings
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    50
    5
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    0
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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
    35
    ratings
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    76
    46
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    4
    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
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