Weekend off

So yeah, I took the weekend off from blogging. Ran out of steam, I guess; I didn’t even read any other blogs on Saturday, I was engrossed in finishing up Kiln People. Sometimes it’s just plain nice to take a break.

David Brin

Ugh, it looks like I’m taking a blogging vacation. Time to try to get back on track. Tonight, since I’m reading one of his latest books, I thought I’d provide some links and commentary on David Brin, one of my favorite science fiction authors.

The book I’m reading is Kiln People, and it’s really good so far. Brin has a knack for taking some of the most out-there, implausible-sounding ideas and turning them around into fascinating, believable premises. Kiln People is a good example; the premise is that future society will be transformed by the ability to create temporary, clay copies of yourself (called “dittos”) that essentially operate as a proxy version of you, and at the end of the day you can “inload” all the memories from the copy—in effect, experiencing and remembering everything the ditto did without risk or effort to yourself. I put off reading this book for a long time because it sounded a bit absurd, but once I got into it, it’s entirely engrossing and convincing.

Brin also excels at portraying alien points of view. Brightness Reef is the best example of this I can think of, jumping POVs among half a dozen different alien species fluidly. That sort of writing is hard work, but it pays off when done well. Which Brin does.

Herewith my thoughts on the essential David Brin reading list; if you haven’t read any of his books, start with these.

  • Startide Rising: This was the first Brin book I read. Utterly fantastic, I was hooked from that point on. It’s actually the second book of his Uplift series, but it’s the best one to start with, hands down. Space opera, lots of aliens, cool ideas—it has it all.
  • Earth: This paints a frightenly real portrayal of Earth in the near future (2038, I believe). Much different tone than his Uplift stories, but very good.
  • The Postman: Forget the movie, the book is totally different, except for a few things. And a thousand times better. As a plus, it mostly takes place in Oregon :)
  • Otherness: The second collection of his short stories. I like this one better than his first collection, River of Time, because he’s a much stronger writer with the later stories.

And, if anyone’s counting, my least favorite Brin novel is Glory Season. Why? It was just too long for me, and the ending was far too ambiguous for my tastes—it didn’t leave me with any real sense of closure, just left me feeling unsatisfied.