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.
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.
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.
Slightly surprising, mildly disappointing
varied, intense, enthusiastic
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
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
I am not sure I would try another Brin title but the narrators of this story are very good. I especially like Kevin Collins.
I like science fiction. I just like a faster paced adventure.
I would listen to any other story I find narrated by Kevin Collins or any of the narrators from this title.
It was an interesting concept.
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.
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.
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.
The story started off strongly but really started to drag after the halfway point. The plot and premise are interesting but the novel really needed an editor. Multiple meandering plot lines with no clear direction. Painful. I'm so tempted to quilt punishing myself and just stop listening.
The story overall is great, and I love the author's ideas. However there were a times I felt like the story was trying too hard to cover too much territory. Often there were tangents that had no role in moving the plot forward. Still, for the science fiction fan this is a good read.
The production of this audio book is admirable in every way: the readers each brought vivid and interesting characterizations that enlivened long stretches of exasperating sermons, philosophical disputations, and thoughtful musings on the human condition and the nature of "Existence" that nearly had me ripping out my hair with exasperation, time and time again. Indeed, the performances are much better than the material deserves.
It seems like there came a point (avoiding spoilers, where the Havana Artifact and "The Courier of Warning" were about to start talking) when the author realizes that all the plot lines so carefully built up for the last 400 pages WERE GOING NOWHERE. So he turned and sped off in a completely different and even more annoying direction.
So we have two novels which aren't about anything, in which nothing much happens, which have no particular protagonists, or far too many, take your pick. Some of the most interesting threads disappear with no trace, so be careful.
Advice to the author: pick a story and tell it, dammit. Advice to the reader: pick another story.
A lot of very flowery drivel not what I have come to expect from a David Brin book.
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