Physicist Dennis Nuel was the first human to probe the strange realms called anomaly worlds - alternate universes where the laws of science were unpredictably changed. But the world Dennis discovered seemed almost like our own - with one perplexing difference. To his astonishment, he was hailed as a wizard and found himself fighting beside a beautiful woman with strange powers against a mysterious warlord as he struggles to solve the riddle of this baffling world.
©1984 David Brin (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
"Lively, outlandish, and entertaining." (Publishers Weekly)
Live naked, eat anything, feel no shame and kill monsters.
Absolutely! 20 years ago I discovered an amazing new world in the Uplift novels and like an unsupervised child with a bag of halloween candy, I devoured them. Over the next couple of years I read all of Brin's novels and The Practice Effect is my favorite with Startide Rising coming in a close second. I am very happy that this book finally came out in audio and pleased that the narration was good and did not distract from what I consider an amazing story.
The practice effect!
The narration did not distract from the story.
I enjoyed Dennis's Wright Brothers moment.
I am disappointed that the only Brin novel that ever made it to film was the Postman. The Postman movie/screenplay was an unmitigated disaster and I would have loved to have seen The Uplift War or Startide Rising made into a GOOD film.
I value intelligent stories with characters I can relate to. I can appreciate good prose, but a captivating plot is way more important.
The author started with an interesting premise, but one which could have no logical solution in the end. Brin wrapped up the book in a hurry and gave us the answers that we were looking for, but it was clear that even he thought they were so lame that they weren't worth exploring.
I've read two Brin novels now, and both of them had the same problem: Brin has clever ideas, but mediocre follow-through.
This book was kind of fun, but it also felt a bit unpolished and immature. It would have made for a fantastic episode of Star Trek or the Twilight Zone, where you can forgive some loose ends for the sake of enjoying the thought experiment. It just didn't have enough meat to justify an entire novel.
Real Rating = 4.5*
SciFi Novel that achieves the author's objective of "mixing rapid fire fun with challenging ideas"
The Practice Effect by David Brin, read by Andy Caploe, published by Audible Studios (2012) / Length: 12 hrs 16 min
SERIES INFO: This book is standalone and not part of any series.
I own an old paperback copy of this book. It was something that I kept hoping would be made into audio. And yet I was also afraid that it would be, but would be done badly. The tone of the protagonist's "voice" is so central, that even just a passably decent narrator could have ruined what I love about it. Thankfully that isn't the case.
I am not a fan of prankster characters nor of cruel sarcasm & snark, but I do love a character who makes snarky observations about the world. Dennis is a perfect example of this.
When I read this book for the first time, I though I might end up being a bit disappointed and maybe even offended as a female reader. The only woman mentioned at Sahara Tech is pushy and obnoxious, and then part way through we are introduced to a "beautiful princess" from a mystic tribe. It seemed to be setting us up for a male fantasy romance (gorgeous, blond & ethereal, adoring female). Thankfully it turned out to be a bit deeper than that.
Along with the tone, another thing I love is how the author explored the cultural & sociological ramifications of differences in physical laws. The world felt complete and complex.
I didn't give it a full 5 stars, because I often skip most of the stuff that doesn't focus on our central characters when I'm re-reading/listening.
Note: Neither the cover nor the publisher's description are very compelling. I would like to see both get an upgrade.
Our Hero (Dennis Nuel): A reality physicist with a sharp wit.
Dennis’s face sometimes took on that dreamy expression often associated either with genius or an inspired aptitude for practical jokes. In reality he was just a little too lazy to qualify for the former, and just a bit too goodhearted for the latter.
The Princess (Linnora): Not just here to adore the hero. Her opinion about him see saws quite a bit, and she is clearly able to think for herself. She is weak enough to faint when confronted by something overwhelming, and strong enough to walk for a full day on blistered feet and a twisted ankle; foolish enough to go off without a guard, and wise enough to realize her beliefs might need re-examining.
Dennis & Linnora: This is NOT a romance, but does include one. There is no InstaLove, but neither is there a lot of time spent on developing the relationship.
The actual nature of the world Dennis enters is one of the central mysteries he is trying to unravel, so I can't say much without giving something away. I will say that I especially enjoyed the description of the city that included not just what it looked like, but how it sounded and smelled as well.
A favorite bit of Earth tech is the exploratory robot.
The author could have chosen to begin with Dennis stepping into the new world and told how he got there in flashbacks, but instead he chose to begin by establishing Dennis' character and background which are central to the story being told.
"The lecture was really boring.
At the front of the dimly lit conference room, the portly, gray-haired director of the Sahara Institute of Technology paced back and forth - staring at the ceiling with his hands clasped behind his back - while he pontificated ponderously on a subject he clearly barely understood."
The book has a clear yet open ending. I would love to read a sequel to see what becomes of Dennis & Linnora, how do the artifacts introduced from earth impact this world & vice versa, do certain people ever get what's coming to them?
HIGHLIGHTS / CAUTIONS:
Dennis's hesitation to hunt, since:
What if the “rabbits” here were philosophers? Could he be so sure anything he aimed at wasn’t intelligent?
Dennis' genre savviness
He acted confident, but he was less than entirely certain. In a science-fiction story he had read as a boy, another Earthling had, just like himself, been transported to another world where the physical laws were also different. In the story, magic had worked, but the hero’s gunpowder and matches had all failed!
I COULD HAVE DONE WITHOUT: Mild swearing
OTHER CAUTIONS : A song with innuendo / A scene in which our villain is not taking no for an answer, and our hero believes that interfering will only get him killed.
I don't feel that the narration perfectly captures Dennis, but Mr. Caploe clearly understands and does a really good job / He uses different voices & accents to distinguish the various characters / Was more than a bit slow. I listen on 1.5 speed (instead of my usual 1.25)
Near the top
Probably the robot.
Did a nice job but the story was the star.
Move me? No, but the whole concept is really fun to think about.
One of my favorite books of all time not for anything but the concept of the practice effect.
Blind listener reading everything, especially sf&f & mystery/thrillers, restricted to audio so picky where credits are spent #BooksRule
A really fun romp... Whimsical and entertaining... I wasn't expecting the lighthearted and humorous story from this author, but was pleasantly surprised... The only downside is the narration, which was entirely too slow and poorly paced... Worked well on 1.5 speed, but don't know if I could have handled it at regular speed...
Not a bad story but lacks maturity or seems a bit dated. Probably more suitable for kids than adults.
"A good book and an OK performance"
I first read this as a print book and bought the audio book after I lost the original. I loved the book but this performance did not quite work for me. The reader's voice just didn't gel for me. That said, it is a clever book with some remarkable ideas and it may be that coming to it fresh would be a very different experience - much like seeing a film without having read the book first. There is a lot to like about this and the blending of SF and fantasy (always difficult to pull off) works remarkably well here.
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