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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 Ratings

Overall

  • 3.8 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    241
  • 4 Stars
    234
  • 3 Stars
    131
  • 2 Stars
    55
  • 1 Stars
    48

Performance

  • 4.1 out of 5.0
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    278
  • 4 Stars
    220
  • 3 Stars
    88
  • 2 Stars
    19
  • 1 Stars
    31

Story

  • 3.7 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    214
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    198
  • 3 Stars
    114
  • 2 Stars
    52
  • 1 Stars
    53
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  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

A 2 or 4 starts book

This one is hard to rate, I am torn between 2 or 4 stars.
The author keeps raising chapters to a great climax and ends them just before the last word. Unlike cliffhangers, this just tastes artifical, when after 2 other chapters he reveals the end, the magic is gone and makes it hard to follow the story. This trick gets old very fast, and in the end is just annoying.
There are many side stories that are just abandoned, for which we never get a conclusion. He takes us over very nice journeys that appear to be critical to the story, and then a new part begins and with luck many chapters after you might get a small clue on how a particular story ended. I don't give examples since that will spoil it for future readers, but, I would say 30% of the pages are just there no make space, without leading anywhere.
On the other hand, the main story is great, well written and keeps you inside the story world. It tackles a nice problem the writing is great, characters have depth, for all that I would give it 4 starts.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Asks the best question- What If? - in interesting and entertaining ways

Reconciling Fermi's Paradox in unexpected ways. Great mix of characters sparing with both lasers and ideas. Pace was perfect- fully developing characters and situations without bogging down in minutiae.

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  • Performance
  • Story

Interesting but needed an editor

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.

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  • Performance
  • Story

Great overall, but can be frustrating at times.

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.

  • Overall

great story

I agree that there is a slow start. but it was well worth the wait.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Pedantic and Tedious

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.

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  • Performance
  • Story

Not A David Brin Favorite

Would you try another book from David Brin and/or the narrators?

Yes

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

No

Any additional comments?

A lot of very flowery drivel not what I have come to expect from a David Brin book.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

To long-winded and jumping around a bit too much

What would have made Existence better?

The book brought up some interesting ideas. Sadly, at least in my opinion, the story brought up the same points about those ideas again and again without really adding anything new or interesting. Had the book been cut down to let's say half its actual length I might have liked it a lot more.

Would you ever listen to anything by David Brin again?

Yes. I really enjoyed his ideas and from what I read online this isn't nearly his best book

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

thoughtful but the ending failed

What did you like best about Existence? What did you like least?

talk about a real interesting take on alien contact!

Any additional comments?

I LOVED this book...until the end. I've found this with Brin's other work though as well. He just doesn't seem to know how he wants to end his stories. maybe this is something he actually wants to do...drives me crazy.<br/><br/>I loved the premise and the characters. The ideas put forth really make you think even past when you turn off the audio book. You start to wonder if maybe..just maybe this might actually be what is going on. Or that it could happen.

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  • Performance
  • Story

Ok overall with good chunks

A bit of a fragmented story. Story arcs start but never resolve. Characters are the focus for a long period and then not mentioned again. I'm a Brin fan, but this really wasn't his best work. Worth a read/listen but likely won't blow you away.