David Brin here. Author of The Postman*, Startide Rising (dolphins in space!), The Uplift War, Earth, Kiln People, and my new novel EXISTENCE. http://www.davidbrin.com/existence.html

*(Had mixed feelings about Kevin Costner's Postman movie? Same here.)

I'm an astrophysicist, primarily planets & comets. Lots to discuss, including SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) and why we seem alone in the cosmos (the "Fermi Paradox") - it happens I'm as much of an expert as you'll find, in a topic without any subject matter!

I do tech-punditry and give talks about the future at many companies/agencies. (The novels are filled with forecasts.) Was on "Life After People & Nova etc. And I became "Mr. Transparency and openness" because of my nonfiction book The Transparent Society: Will Technology Make Us Choose Between Privacy and Freedom? (Freedom of Speech Award.)

Novels now have "book trailers" & I'd like your opinion about that. See this lavish one hand painted by the great web artist Patrick Farley. http://www.tinyurl.com/exist-trailer ============

======= UPDATE!!! Next day, people are still dropping by. I was on last night for a grueling 8 hours!
The Good news? I was told (by slanderers!) to expect trolls and short attention spans and shallowmindedness on Reddit. What I found was savvy, smart and patiently curious folks, almost without exception! (And "keep it shot" was NOT required!) That overcame my initial disappointment over the way this scheduled AMA was handled for the 1st 3 hours.

Hence I AM BACK FOR JUST AN HOUR OF TIDYING AND ANSWERING... because you were all mostly so nice that you deserve it. I hope you all thrive and help turn our civilization back onto the course of science, curiosity and eagerness for an exciting/bright future!

(Oh, and do look at http://www.davidbrin.com/existence.html !! ;-) Good luck all!


Okay, answered everybody. Phew! It's 24 hours now.
One last request? BUMP ME UP TO 1000, points???? pleeeeeeeez?

And visit me at http://www.davidbrin.com and/or http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/

Be citizens of wonder......

Comments: 662 • Responses: 96  • Date: 

davidbrin1144 karma

Well, the good news is that there have been no trolls, no snarky nastyguys. It's been almost (!) all smart folks interested in intellectually stimulating questions. And generously patient with me when I (1) gave multi-sentence or complex answers and (2) mentioned the fact that some of the topics (like SETI) are covered in my book.

Thanks for that!

That's the good news. The bad? The mods neglected to post this AMA on the main page for three hours, even though it was a scheduled headliner. Moreover, I counted and figure that nearly all of you were folks I invited here from my other communities & worlds... blog, website etc... or who wandered over from r/science or r/future

So, bottom line? I worked hard, followed every rule and every piece of advice, promoted hard offline and online, did exactly as they asked me to. And so? You hear these guys go on and on and on about how awful Woody Harrelson was. How about the other direction? Treating guests in a professional and decent manner? Forgetaboutit....

ajdane61 karma

I just spotted this on the front page and had a "holy shit its David Brin" moment.

Thank you for doing this.

davidbrin138 karma

Thanks mucho! Wish I weren't 7 hours reddit exhausted.

But thrive & persevere!


SkipTown23 karma

I'm just getting on in the UK. It is a major bummer that they screwed up your AMA.

You are one of the most incredible author/thinkers I have ever read. I grew up loving Startide Rising and got a huge kick out of Practice Effect. Earth completely blew my mind; I still think it is in the top 10 of sci-fi novels of all time. Your comments on privacy have been some of the absolute best out there.

And now I can't think of a single thing to ask you. You are probably offline by now in any case. I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate the fact that you have walked this planet and have written what you have written. Thanks.

davidbrin118 karma

Wow... you write really well. Blushing and grateful.

Just dropping in after midnight before bed, to say thanks and to at least read and acknowledge your kind thoughts!

schroob20 karma

I think you're doing a great job so far. You give in-depth answers and follow through on your answers. It's so frustrating when someone gives a sentence or two but won't read/comment anything beyond the first layer of questions. So thank you!

davidbrin134 karma

Thanks. I am pleasantly surprised that NONE of you were mean or snarky and all were interested in real answers. Still grumpy over the three wasted hours at the beginning.... but now too exhausted to care....

you, the regular (above average IQ) redditors are the ones who saved this.

LazySumo15 karma

Just getting on Reddit for the evening now and reading this ENTIRE thread, I'll be posting a question shortly.

David, thank you MUCH for being an AMA'er. It is very appreciated!

davidbrin123 karma

Thanks@ It's been rough. Now, after 7 hours, suddenly people are swarming in! (The mods blew me off the 1st three hours.)

Wish I could hang around. But slammed... good luck. db

DeFeet10 karma

I'm sad I didn't see this soon enough.

You forgot to mention that you were helping with a robotics team. I was on it with your son and it was always interesting when you'd stop by. We should probably have asked you some philosophical questions, but we are usually on a tight schedule. Sorry.

Anyways, thanks for doing an AMA, and next time you see him, tell Ben that Nick Foote said hi.

davidbrin114 karma

Terrific! Glad robotics worked for us and Dean Kamen is an american hero.

I hope you thrive and do great! Wish I weren't 7 hours reddit exhausted. Thanks!

unmutablejones6 karma

I got stuck at work and my questions have basically been answered. I was looking forwards to this since I found out about it a week ago! I just want to say thanks for all the amazing books. You really are the one who got me interested in reading beyond school when I was in High School and kept me around for Existence (I just bought it). Kiln People is by far one of my favorites of all time and I recommend that to most people I know. I was pretty excited for that movie with Bruce Willis just because it reminded me of Kiln People but much like the Postman I put it right out of my memory. I'm also mad that I didn't get to go to the bar that time you invited fans over when you were in New York last year; Hope you decide to do something like that again.

davidbrin111 karma

What kind words and thoughts. Even hours reddit exhausted.... they matter to me... thanks!

Keep eyes at http://www.davidbrin.com cause I do get back east now and then.. Subscribe to the newsletter and thrive

orthogonality3 karma

Could you stick to the subject of Rampart, please?

davidbrin19 karma

Oh so I am Harrelson now??????

If I weren't 7 hours reddit exhausted... why I oughta!!!


davidbrin151 karma

Okay, I'll just offer up some interesting stuff I though folks would ask about:

My general advice for new writers: Seek Criticism! See my extended essay distilling 30 years answering advice queries from new writers. http://www.davidbrin.com/advice.htm

See the slimmer but on-target video: So you want to write? One author’s perspective. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GPTE8vdYqAM

One snippet: I tell writing students, start w a murder mystery! It is the one "fair" genre. The "whodunit" must surprise AND make sense!

Lies_About_Expertise35 karma

As a fellow physicist and writer I have to say it’s great to have you here on Reddit.

  • What advancement that will happen within our lifetimes do you most look forward to? Why?

  • You, like myself, have a wide variety of expertise. Outside of what you write about, what do you like to study?

  • What is your opinion of Neil deGrasse Tyson?

  • How many bodies can you fit in the trunk of your car?

davidbrin130 karma

Whoosh, sorry I worked my way to the bottom answering. Now back up top.

  • I talk to a LOT of the "singularity" guys and I get to be the grouch around them and their expectations of looming imminent immortality. Not that there won't be advances! I hope for some! But I think the human/enlightenment projected is VASTLY more important than any one person's greedy clutch at more years! (And that is HARD for an egotist to say! ;-)

Hence, what I yearn for is improvements in PROCESS. The Enlightenment processes of markets and democracy, science etc have been spectacular! Guys like Clay Shirky claim the Web is making us hugely smarter in real time. But .... but I don't see that. There are many tools still missing and lobotomizing conversation to 140 words won't do it.

I show some of those possible improvements... in EXISTENCE!

davidbrin140 karma

  • Neil dGT is wonderful. ALways grin when he goes on Stewart.

  • Still living? Revivable? Frozen? Dehydrated? Reduced to stackable molecule dust? Reduced to data? Then we must define "car".

Trunk? the elephant will sneeze! Bodies everywhere!

davidbrin128 karma

  • What do I like to study? Like you.... EVERYTHING! And it is all, all, all relevant.

Seriously, the advancements that will change everything?

  • Better online methods of discourse
  • Brain/intelligence augmentation
  • AI... if we prevent it from emerging from predatory high frequency stock trading programs (if it does we are so screwed)
  • Getting all to realize that self-righteous indignation is a real, bona fide drug-high self-doped addiction! One that we baby boomers are expert at!

All of this is in the novel, of course ;-)

davidbrin122 karma

Still answering... The web transcendentalists are one side, then you get cybergrouches like Nicholas Carr. You might like my article showing what both sides miss: Is the Web helping us evolve? My Salon Magazine feature comparing the technology pessimists to those who think the Internet is turning us into gods: http://www.salon.com/tech/feature/2008/12/23/david_brin_google/index.html

Hellrazor23614 karma

As a fellow physicist and writer


davidbrin18 karma


megazver10 karma

Look at the guy's username.

"Lies_About_Expertise 12 points 1 hour ago

As a fellow physicist and writer I..."

davidbrin113 karma

megazver can you tell me what I did wrong here? Doesn't look like much traffic. Guess I'm a boring old scientist/author/fart.

Send me a critique by commenting at http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/

megazver10 karma

Um. Reddit has gimmick accounts. Like a hypothetical "ONLY_POSTS_HODOR" whose every post is nothing but "HODOR HODOR HODOR". (It's a character in A Song of Ice and Fire.)

So this guy's name is "Lies About (his own) Expertise". And then he says he's "a fellow physicist and writer".

Basically, it's a joke. :)

davidbrin113 karma

Okay but how'd he get enough votes to stay on top?

Actually, my main question is why my pre-announced and scheduled event never showed up under "new" or on ANY of the AMA lists and had such lousy attendance? What did I do wrong?

megazver9 karma

Wishinghand gave a direct link on /r/scifi. That's how I came across this, too.

Sometimes the Reddit software just has a hiccup and hides a perfectly fine thread because it thinks it's boner pills spam or something. It happens relatively often. Happened to at least one of my threads as well. Don't take it personally. :D I'm sure the questions will flood in once the mods fix it and it actually appears on the front page.

davidbrin115 karma

Well it didn't happen. Alas.

BobKerns29 karma

What can we citizens do, to overcome governmental resistance to transparency? The issue ends up buried under all the other partisan concerns -- yet every aspect of government would be so much better if transparent.

How can we overcome the static friction and get the ball rolling?

davidbrin158 karma

You expect the mighty to willingly let themselves be kept accountable? Look at the last 6000 years. We humans (especially when powerful) always come up with reasons why WE (and our friends) need prvacy while our foes need accountability

Those 6000 years show how obstinate the problem is, but they also show reasons for optimism! The Enlightenment's 250 year experiment has been amazing. Adam Smith said break up power into smaller chunks so the mighty will help us to hold EACH OTHER accountable!

The time to worry? When the mighty conspire against this solution.

BobKerns12 karma

"You expect the mighty to willingly let themselves be kept accountable?" -- nope, indeed.

The trend I see is for ever advancing centralization. Just take education -- NCLB binds local districts with strings of money. And here in California, the funds flow through the state, which raids them when the state runs short, leaving the local districts dependent on the whims of the legislature.

What sort of idea, actions, movement, can reverse that.

Because every time we centralize, every time we federalize, we also dilute and divide and average out any dissent or oversight.

"Too big to fail" is a symptom, I believe, that the power, once divided, is pulling itself back together.

davidbrin126 karma

Yes on all counts. But always watch out for the next layer you missed. I am "Contrary Brin" and hence I must point out that all the power consolidations you are mentioning are old and have not changed much in decades, yet you fret them as if they are skyrocketing.

Taxes are near the lowest rates in 80 years, Federal and state share of the economy, plummeting and historically low. So why your fixation on that center of power? Might it be because far more aggressively rising accumulations of power want you focused that way?

Hey, just askin. Me, I am a Smithian-Heinleinian libertarian. I distrust ALL accumulations of power! Look back across 6000 years and tell me who oppressed?

Come by the blog community at http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/ (under comments) one of the smartest around. Let's explore.

tsuomela5 karma

What group of conspiracists worry you the most? Political, economic, military, scientific, insert group here?

davidbrin113 karma

We all do selective perception. If you are "progressive" you notice conspiracies of the right and vice versa. (Personally, I find the "left-right axis" to be lobotomizing.)

I am Contrarian (My blog=Contrary Brin) so my libertarian friends get poked by me and they think I am liberal. My liberal friends hear my rave on and on about Adam Smith. But yes, I do believe that one conspiracy - HG Wells's "murdochs" - is the worst.

tsuomela4 karma

I was thinking of the question more in terms of group/organizational structures than particular political groups. For example, current U.S. politics seems to be in a structural bind where neither Republicans nor Democrats can actually govern because the other group is willing to block or filibuster everything that the opposition proposes. But is this blocking of compromise actually an indication of conspiracy?

davidbrin122 karma

I agree with what you say here... politics in America is dead and so is our national genius at negotiation and pragmatically working out practical solutions.

But I disagree with the assertion that it is equally the fault of both sides. One side repeatedly offers its hand and whines "let's negotiate." The other is the most disciplined partisan machine the republic has ever seen.

kindall8 karma

Republicans negotiate like Billy the Kid in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. "What I win, I keep. What you win... I keep."

And the Democrats negotiate like Bill and Ted: "Sounds good to us, Mr. the Kid!"

davidbrin117 karma

Well... it's a bit more complicated than that. The real diff is that there is still a distinction between moderate (the majority) pragmatic liberals and lefty kooks. The difference on the other side used to be distinct but it no longer exists.

Instead, one side has become the most DISCIPLINED partisan machine in US history. That discipline is very very impressive. And deeply disturbing.

davidbrin19 karma

Those mutants in HG Wells... the Moordochs.

Repeat it slowly and think about it....

Sorry all1 Wish I weren't 7 hours reddit exhausted!

I may try to check in again tomorrow... or else follow me to http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/ if you like. There's a good blog community down there in comments. Join in with detailed questions there I promise to answer!

Good night.

SourceofAuthority3 karma

Mr. Brin, what do you think of the theory that humans can only hold about 125 people in their heads as close relations where they know the stories and histories of each one. It suggests to me that may be the base upon which to build our representation. Those 125 would be personally accountable. Why not use the strengths given to us through our development?

davidbrin16 karma

More like from 2000 to 10,000. But our augmented reality glasses will deal with that for us!

See it depicted in Existence. Sorry for the plug but it is right there in great detail! Wish I weren't 7 hours reddit exhausted. Thanks!

davidbrin119 karma

I search /r/IAMA for "David Brin" and see nothing at all...

tsuomela12 karma

I've been a longtime reader of much of your work but I'm particularly interested in some of the material you wrote about in The Transparent Society. How have the ideas from that book played into Existence? What's your opinion of deliberate data pollution - lying - by individuals in order to deflect overzealous data miners?

davidbrin112 karma

Well, you'll recall in EARTH (1989) there were web pages and other not yet invented things. And one plot element was that in the 2020s there had been the "Helvetian War". The whole world against Switzerland. Nuked the alps. But we finally got the bank records!

Your question is whether data miners can be spoofed, either by individuals or by groups like the "Friends of Privacy" in Vinge's novel... flooding the net with so many auto-generated lies that you can't believe anything anymore! Will our age be viewed as lost innocence, when you could trust what you found online?

davidbrin111 karma

I call for a different approach to reclaiming and holding onto freedom and privacy. The "restaurant allegory"... that we need openness so we can catch the peeping toms.

davidbrin111 karma

I was told to expect rude snarkers here - amid the smart and grownup redditors. But I haven't found that to be the case in those AMA's I've joined. And you lot here are just smart and wonderful. Whassup with that?

In fact, most of you seem like the smart-savvy types who inhabit our blog-community at http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/ ("Contrary Brin") under comments.

Entrarchy3 karma

A lot of the people posting over here are from /r/futurology and the singularity network, including subreddits like /r/singularity, /r/futurism, /r/imaginarytechnology, /r/space_settlement, etc.

David, if you like it here on Reddit, consider joining us in these networks and adding to the conversation. We'd love the voice of an expert!

davidbrin16 karma

Very tempting and I hope to comply! Prob is I am old and short of life span!

Or drop in at http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/ whenever you like, to grab a response to take back...

zyjux11 karma

It seems as though we're in an age where technology is lowering the barriers to entry in writing and publishing books, particularly through the ebook phenomenon. Do you think that large publishing houses will still be playing a major role in 10, 20, or 50 years? Or will we have completely switched to a grass-roots self-publishing system?

davidbrin119 karma

Think of human society. 99% of those before ours were pyramid shaped, with oligarchs atop -- and we may be heading back that way. But the West invented the DIAMOND SHAPED SOCIETY in which a thriving middle out numbers the poor or rich.

It turns out some professions are naturally diamond-like. Engineering. You MIGHT be rich or poor but are likely to have a house/car etc.

The arts will ALWAYS be pyramidal. For every steven King there's ten of me who are doing great but who hate/envy him (he's a nice man actually.) ANd so on down. What has changed is the PATH to climb the pyramid. You can still get plucked up to the top by mavens and pros (editors) OR you can climb the Ramp of Merit with online pubs and fanzines and e-books and upward

davidbrin111 karma

Sorry all. Must go. Wish I weren't 8 hours reddit exhausted!

I may try to check in again tomorrow... or else follow me to http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/ if you like. There's a good blog community down there in comments. Join in with detailed questions there I promise to answer! Or sign up to get news at http://www.davidbrin.com

I do hope you all feel I put in the time and effort. You were all VASTLY more polite, and ready to engage deeper concepts than I had been led to expect here. (Did I attract the very best? It seems so!) You're such a lovely group in fact, I'd love to take you home! ;-)

Hoping you'll tell friends about tinyurl.com/exist-trailer

But much more important, fight for a forward-looking, scientific, open-transparent and ever-hopeful civilization. Negotiate with your adversaries. Learn from criticism and dish it out!

Enjoy fresh and challenging ideas. Explore.

Good night.

gmcquillan11 karma

In your uplift series, there are several earth species which eventually achieve sentience. It seems like with all the attention that SETI gets looking for Extra-Terrestrial intelligence that the futurist community often forgets that we have several good candidates for sentience on our own planet.

What are your thoughts on developing the intelligence of these species? Should we interfere or leave them to go on as they have? Or, rather, should we expand our ideas surrounding sentience to encompass these species (thinking mainly of cetaceans and other greater apes)?

davidbrin119 karma

Many will call EXISTENCE a prequel to STARTIDE RISING in that it shows one possible beginning to the Uplift Project. And it shows that it won't be easy!

Oh, thousands of folks have written to me jazzed by the notion that we might someday spread the diversity of intelligent civilization on Earth - a worthy goal! We'll make other minds! AIs, uplifted dolphins and apes! Our children!

But then people realize it would take 200+ years and along the way? Pain.

readcard9 karma

just here to upvote you to front page

davidbrin16 karma

well thanks!

SavageHenry03119 karma

Dr. Brin, I don't have any questions, and I (currently) lack the education to talk meaningfully about your work


I want to thank you for writing Startide Rising and The Uplift War. I read those books over a decade ago and I still think about them often. Your work has made me examine over and over what it means to be a sentient creature, and ponder my place on the food chain.

Every time I see a chimpanzee, I think of Fiben Bolger sitting alone in a worn out spacecraft, just waiting for the fight to start - waiting like I used to do when I was a grunt. Gets me in the guts sometimes, even now.

Ladies and Gents reading this comment - those books are science fiction The Way It's Supposed To Be Done. If you haven't yet - go read some of David Brin's work. It's effing good.

davidbrin15 karma

Thanks so much. When I am asked to name my favorite character, Fiben always ranks up there at or near the top. What a fun guy!

BTW... thank you for your service.

BTW, have a look at tinyurl.com/exist-trailer


MichaelCLewis9 karma

Since writing The Transparent Society, have you changed your opinion about the potential for transparency to improve society? Do you track projects related to implementing the concepts presented in that book (and if so, do you have a list of active and/or defunct projects)? Are you interested in being involved in such projects?

davidbrin18 karma

I grow increasingly convinced that the four great innovations of the Enlightenment: Democracy, Markets, Science and Justice, absolutely depend on most of the participants knowing most of what's going on, most of the time.

All four languish, sicken and die if secrecy prevails.

I am a moderate! The Transparent Society is filled with discussion of exceptions and privacy is important!

But ironically it can only be defended if we see well enough to catch the peeping toms.

Warvair8 karma

I just want to say I've been a big fan for years and I think I enjoy your writing the most when you provide the perspective of other species/aliens.

Keep up the good work!

davidbrin15 karma

Thanks. UR gr8.

And I hope to keep your trust in my storytelling skills!

hmoulding8 karma

I do enjoy your stories, but I am aware you also do real science. What are you currently working on?

davidbrin122 karma

I do little guerilla raids into branches of science that interest me, and screw credentials! Hence, I just had two papers in a new psychology book called PATHOLOGICAL ALTRUISM... which focused researchers on a real problem. That oft times we try to do good for others and wind up wreaking harm.

I analyzed how altruism can be addictive! And why the real thing is rare in nature. (And may be rare among aliens! But now I am getting into the topic of my novel! ;-)

BAN_A_MANN7 karma

Interesting, I have wondered that myself (whether aliens have altruism that is) do you think that though altruism may be rare, that it will be incredibly beneficial to those species which develop it?

davidbrin118 karma

Alas, the core group at the SETI Institute hold to the "altruism is automatically universal" mythology for reasons of their own.

They run interfeerence for others who are rudely beaming "messages" into space (METI) without consulting peers or colleagues or the public, all based on the altruism assumption. Many of us have resigned from the SETI committees in protest.

See this laid down at: http://lifeboat.com/ex/shouting.at.the.cosmos

BAN_A_MANN8 karma

Hey David, I am a huge fan or your writing as well as your opinions on technology and society (you have reversed my political opinions pretty much single handed). Most of all I enjoy the universe you created in the uplift saga, what was it that sparked the idea for an entire civilization built upon uplift? Do you see this as the inevitable progression of intelligent species or was it just a thought experiment? Finally are you planning any more novels, graphic novels or field guides (I enjoyed Contacting Aliens) placed within the Uplift universe?

davidbrin114 karma

GREAT question. Almost all I do is informed by the Fermi Paradox. EXISTENCE lays down dozens of hypotheses (amid a rollicking, idea-drenched adventure! ;-)

In the Uplift Universe I wanted to do space opera with LOTS of alien races. Only how can that happen and be stable if everyone is colonizing and warring like mad... the galaxies would go to hell.

But the progenitors set up this cycle, see, in which your status is how many "offspring" races you raise up. This means everybody becomes fanatical to protect Nursery Worlds where candidate species can rise up. Wars are limited... see? It is not a friendly cosmos, but it does limit its worst failure modes...

BAN_A_MANN8 karma

That is such an amazing idea, I love how you successful created a star wars-esq galaxy and yet made it seem plausible (instead of waving your wand and proclaiming "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away"). The fact that there were starfaring clans, all with different relation, species and political views, makes me feel that this universe has endless story possibilities.

davidbrin19 karma

One added advantage, it explains how you could get a stable equilibrium of galactic society... with elder races migrating toward black holes...


Klarok8 karma

Hi David

Thank you very much for doing this AMA. I'm sorry that it didn't get the attention it deserved but hopefully you'll be able to respond to some of the questions that may appear now that the AMA is properly highlighted. Maybe you could get back to them tomorrow, I know I'll check back!

Anyway, I am a definite fan of your works and Kil'n People is my favourite book. I loved the mystery set in a world where personal time is not a scarce commodity. It intrigued me greatly so I do thank you for the entertainment. Of course I loved the Uplift books as well - the first trilogy more so than the second which I found somewhat more dry and less exciting than the first.

Anyway, on to the questions if you have time:

  • You've done some excellent work and thinking on SETI. What are your thoughts on the ideas espoused in Orson Scott Card's Ender series which looked at the possibility of "varelse", an alien species which was so foreign that we could never communicate with them? (Apologies if you haven't read it but the short summary should give you the basic idea)
  • There have been a lot of 'solutions' proposed to the Fermi Paradox. One of the most interesting (to me) was proposed by Charles Stross that species stayed close to their stars of a post Singularity conversion of much of their solar system's mass to computronium. What idea(s) do you find most compelling that explain the Fermi Paradox?
  • What are your opinions on the concept common to many novels of future society that reputation will eventually become currency?

Thanks in advance!

davidbrin115 karma

1c: I am not a fan of Scott Card's repetitious, single minded theme, that average human beings (or merely above average folks) are hopeless fools and salvation can only come by allowing some Nietzchean uber-man take over and tell everybody what to do.

Seriously, is that what his fans want? Is that what YOU want? And what if the uber guys you fantasize being... turns out to be some other doofus and not you?

I am more interested in the story of a civilization that might be smarter than all of us. Because all of us pitch in to be as smart as we can be. It's what got us the party we're all enjoying, notwithstanding SciFi ingrates.

Klarok7 karma

Is that what YOU want

Absolutely not :) I read Ender's Game and, because I can't read just one book of a series, read through the rest of them. Ender's Shadow was also very good but on the whole I didn't really appreciate the other books.

I can't comment on the dating habits of SoCal mallrats but I did find that the varelse concept of those books to be extremely far fetched. I believe that we are far more likely to have difficulties with species that we can communicate with but who have fundamentally different universe views (as you describe in Startide Rising) or reproductive strategies (as in Mote in God's Eye). The idea that two starfaring races could never communicate just doesn't seem plausible.

The only way it could be possible for a complete inability to communicate is if each species did not even recognise the other as life; which would hark back to the Skylark series (from EE Smith) and the beings made from pure energy. At that point it wouldn't really be an inability to communicate but more a lack of realisation that communication was even possible - probably akin to how contemporary humans don't bother to try to talk to bacteria.

What I want are more books like Kil'n People where an author says "what if" then builds a detailed world to explore that question. It's that type of SF that keeps me hooked and one that has been a theme in many of your books.

davidbrin16 karma

Wow... I invite you to join our blogmunity over at http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/ under comments.

smart bunch you (and many others here) would fit right in.

davidbrin110 karma

1 Oh I expect many aliens will be hard to grasp, at first. Indeed, the very worst folks to put on any contact committee will be some of the "SETI" types who are insistent on narrow sets of assumptions about aliens and their motivations. And yet, I am deeply suspicious about the "we'll never understand" business. Several reasons:

1a: on Earth all higher level creatures seem to understand some general concepts like quid pro quo. Cephalopods like octopi have amazing overlaps with us and communicate in primitive but real ways that are limited by their abilities, not by their differences from us.

1b: Humans are diverse. If aliens land in a shopping mall in southern california, we may not understand them, but 5% of my neighbors will try to date them!

davidbrin110 karma

2 the computronium explanation is definitely in my list and up in the tope 25. But it still has problems. Like the fact that such mega minds would still care about the outer universe. They would make or breed or design DEPUTIES who could interact with the universe for them and who don't want to become computronium.

Hence we come back around to the question, after all. See Existence!

davidbrin19 karma

  1. Question about reputation is a very good one. I illustrate it vividly in several places, in the novel.

The actual limiting factor is HUMAN ATTENTION... which is limited in basic ways (though I shatter that limitation in KILN PEOPLE).

Reputation is related in that it helps us to allocate attention. Actually... interestingly... I have a 126 claim patent on attention allocation methods online! ;-)

Klarok4 karma

In Kil'n people though, you still note that people have to reintegrate which (presumably) is somewhat time-consuming which would just push the attention problem out a bit further.

One of the things that publicly available reputation would hopefully accomplish is to make it difficult to cheat or lie. The reason why it doesn't work right now is that, as we see on sites like this one, it is possible to pay anonymous people to assist a powerful person to cheat because the anonymous people don't care about reputation.

So, in order for reputation to be meaningful, we would have to remove or severely curtail anonymity. Neal Asher goes into this aspect a lot in his books but, then again, he also had the Quiet War where AIs took over everything.

We're currently having issues with that as we see the arguments over employers searching Facebook to keep tabs on their workers or using Google to obtain data that the person may not have wanted to have revealed.

I think that, in the end, lower personal privacy will become the norm. It's hard to envision how it will be maintained with the level of information saturation that is already prevalent.

davidbrin13 karma

Privacy will have to be redefined and there will be less... but in The Transparent Society I make clear that free and knowing people can have some. Ironically, that privacy will come from transparency, the way you get privacy in a restaurant, because peeping toms and eavesdroppers fear getting caught in the act.

You are partly right. Reputation will come back and replace the many PROSTHETICS we now use to replace it... cash, ID, credit... I show all this in Existence.

But there is a middle ground! Mediated pseudonymity, in which you are a member of a company of club that records your reputation scores in dozens of categories... then you make a pseudonym to roam the web... CARRYING THOSE SCORES WITH YOU with verification tags. "This is a person with these high scores."

People may wonder who this is, but most of the time you can USE your rep without having to admit who you are. But if you mis behave, that ding to your rep follows you back to the company.

You get accountability, but still some privacy.

Wish I could talk more. Follow me to http://www.davidbrin.com or to http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/

Klarok3 karma

Thanks for your replies, I really appreciate them :)

I'll have to read The Transparent Society but I do like the idea that those who breach some social norm of expected privacy may suffer some negative public reputation. Of old, ostracism was one of the most effective punishments (far better than draconian tortures) and people will rightly moderate their actions to avoid it.

Mediated pseudonymity is the concept of Neal (not Neil as I wrote before) Asher's books where you can choose how much of your private persona that you wish to show but that a certain level of public information is always public. Fascinating really but our level of technology isn't really up to it as it would require highly trusted 3rd parties to verify that the anonymous persona matched the real one - spoofing and identity theft would quickly escalate to be extremely serious crimes.

davidbrin17 karma

The secret is sousveillance... meaning looking from below. Surveillance is from above.

If we catch mean people then they will learn not to be mean.

davidbrin19 karma

Sorry Klarok, but am I writing my answer here just for you? Or will everybody see it? Pardon my klutziness, but shouldn't I give priority to public questions?

These are fascinating issues that you raise! But could you raise them in the main thread? Or else come to my regular blog community (under comments at http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/) and ask there?

In fact, all three questions deserve detailed answers.

megazver8 karma

Book trailers are a waste of money, if you ask me. I never saw one that swayed my opinion in the slightest.

EDIT: Hey, he asked for opinions. This is mine.

davidbrin15 karma

And it's good feedback! Thanks!

Look at the back page of any of my books FIFTY NAMES of folks I thank for their harsh readings and fierce quality control. I could never write such complex, challenging things and have them be readable... (even exciting!)... without the help of criticism.

Hence... thanks megazver.

davidbrin13 karma

Depends how cheap you get one and whether they move books. Were you intrigued at all by that one? tinyurl.com/exist-trailer

I don't mind. Purists are great!

megazver8 karma

What's your take on book piracy? I mean, I took a look in places and your new book is already out there.

davidbrin118 karma

Please email me separately with some of those piracy sites? Please?

It turns out many of them will remove the item if you ask nicely.

Look I have kids to feed. I am Mr. Transparency and I believe in general info openness. But we need to remember why IP (intellectual property) was invented in the 1st place... to end 6000 years in i which creative people could only benefit by keeping things secret! That's how we lost the Baghdad Battery, the Antekithery device and Heron's steam engines!

Yes, let's move on from Copyright fascism! But in an orderly way that still lures creative folk into the open.

jkotrub6 karma

On this topic, I am curious of your thoughts on the open-sources/creative commons movement. Any thoughts on this different model to promote creativity?

davidbrin17 karma

I take a middle road. I must pay for college educations! But I know the world is changing and I am willing to discuss OTHER ways to solve the riddle of getting creative people to end 6000 years of secrecy.

And I do give a lot of stuff away or price them low.

Fuqwon7 karma

Ever think, "Hey, at least I didn't write Waterworld"?

davidbrin116 karma

Yeah, well... don't get me started on Costner. He was an absolute jerk to me, beyond belief. Yet I helped him and was a team player, and overall I refuse to hate him. Because the final film, while abysmally stupid, was actually rather BIG HEARTED! It tried to convey a moral message similar to the one in my book.

Also, like all Costner flicks, it is visually and musically gorgeous.

Gorgeous, bighearted and dumb? Yeah. I guess that's okay.

mongoOnlyPawn3 karma

Yes, the movie was big hearted and I'll have to admit that I enjoyed that part of it. That said, I enjoyed your book much much more!

I was absolutely enthralled with your work (Foundation's Triumph) with Greg Bear and Gregory Benford creating the 2nd Foundation trilogy. I felt that you (and the other B's) had channeled Dr. Asimov himself! It must be hard to write with another writer's voice.

Care to comment on that?

davidbrin17 karma

Janet Asimov called Foundation's Triumph her favorite non-Isaac book in Asimov universe.

I felt honored to tie his loose ends.

Wish I weren't 7 hours reddit exhausted. Thanks!

megazver7 karma

If you were forced at gunpoint to write a fantasy novel, what would it be like?

davidbrin127 karma

No need for gunpoint. The Practice Effect had all the fantasy furniture, princesses and dragons and such. All right, like Anne McCaffrey it was still MORALLY science fiction in that it favored progress, not static, endless feudalism...

...And I have concepts for some fantasies I'd like to write. But I suppose in those too, the heroes would be sons and daughters of blacksmiths, who want to end lordly oppression. So I guess I am stuck.

But I do love the furniture!

destructicus6 karma

The practice effect was sooooooo good. I love hard core sci-fi but that novel was so much fun. Thanks for that.

davidbrin16 karma

You are soooooooooo nice to say so!!!

megazver5 karma

No need for gunpoint.

But it's fun!

davidbrin114 karma

There are SOOOOOOO many tales I'd love to write! Including many fantasies. Problem is limited-linear lifespan! And parenting teens. ;-)

It is why I fantasized the self-duplicating tech in KILN PEOPLE! Oh to be able to do everything in parallel!

davidbrin16 karma

Okay I am mystified here. My AMA never seemed to appear on the main listing. It isn't there now and hardly anyone showed up. Anyone care to tell me what I did wrong?

ion-tom6 karma

What was the focus of your academic life and do you miss doing research or do you still participate? And what pushed you towards a career in writing? Which other hard sci-fi authors do you enjoy reading the most and what do you draw inspiration from?

davidbrin111 karma

In my bio I talk about growing up in a family of writers. Always knew I'd do it. But looked around and realized: ALL societies had artists/storytellers, but only one developed millions of scientists whose aim was not to convince people to BELIEVE in a temporary tale... but to know what is true. Verifiably true. And I wanted that!

Did it! Batted a few out of the park. (All nature shows that depict comets show dusty fountains... my theory and thesis.)

But civilization proved willing to pay much more in $ & admiration for my stories! Well well... who am I to argue with civilization?

ion-tom3 karma

Thanks for the response! Do you have time to elaborate a bit more on what type of comet studies you did? I was an astro major in college, got to play with some aerogel and see comet particles under a SEM once, it was pretty awesome! I'm excited to see what Planetary Resources goes after in the long term, although NEA's are probably the first targets.

I also love that your books cover topics of transhumanism/accelerating technology, it's nice to have fiction out there that sits in that type of framework. What contemporary authors do you read if and when you have the time? Have you ever read Greg Egan's "Schild's Ladder?"

davidbrin14 karma

Egan is great! Very witty and science imaginative... tho his latest have some probs.

You'll love a transhumanist convention in year 2048 that I portray (with humor) in EXISTENCE.

I did theoretical studies showing that comets likely accumulate a covering Mantle of dust particles that act like a thermos insulation, then blow off in spots, when the main part nears the sun. All described in a little book recently re-issued HEART OF THE COMET http://www.davidbrin.com/heartofthecomet.html

See the trailer!

davidbrin13 karma

dust layers on cometary nuclei... all of it illustrated in HEART OF THE COMET. Now re-issued!

rrperkin6 karma

You've been in and around the libertarian movement for a long time now, and I enjoyed reading the transcript of the speech you gave to one of their organizations.

Which two or three ideas from that movement would be the most important TODAY to inculate into American political discourse? European?

davidbrin117 karma

I am desperately sad that the Libertarian movement has been hijacked by followers of Rothbard and Rand, who declare idolatry of two things that should be utterly secondary... unlimited personal property and unlimited hatred of all government, all the time. And they never notice that always falling below 1% of the vote MEANS something.

I call myself a libertarian heretic because I look at 6000 years of human history and see who oppressed freedom and competition in 99% of cultures. The owner oligarchs. Adam Smith the founder of BOTH liberalsim and libertarianism, knew this! He denounced oligarchy as THE main enemy and prescribed some government and civil servants as an opposing force, to help balance oligarchy

What I ask all libertarians to do is back off of the fanatical dogmas and instead recall the MAIN thing they want. Competition. A world in which competition is the great creative force. (It created us!) If we remind ourselves of that, then many errors fall away. Rand becomes silly. And government become something that has SOME uses...

...And we'd get more than 1% some times.

foodforthoughts3 karma

Have you heard about the Mondragon Cooperative? It is a very interesting phenomenon, a form of decentralized ownership and control where almost a hundred thousand people run a fairly large complex of cooperatives that is one of the ten largest companies in Spain. There is a new documentary coming out that was funded through kickstarter that covers cooperatives as well as Mondragon, it's called Shift Change The structure of Mondragon is a very libertarian solution to centralizing economic organization, and it helps distribute the information needed to coordinate advanced economic activity to a wide base of decision makers/participants.

I first read about Mondragon from Making Mondragon: The Growth and Dynamics of the Worker Cooperative Complex, which I highly recommend for an overview of the cooperative.

davidbrin15 karma

fascinating concept, of the form of economics favored by Kim Stanley Robinson. He is my bro and we correlate politically... though I have alittle more Adam Smith in me....

Wish I weren't 7 hours reddit exhausted. Thanks!l

gmcquillan6 karma

Who are your favorite Sci-Fi authors?

davidbrin110 karma

What am I reading now? Many fine choices! I recently read Vinge’s Children of the Sky. Now reading Stan Robinson’s 2312. Next up: Scalzi’s Red Shirts

My favorite Science fiction authors? John Brunner’s five years as the mad god of 60’s SciFi. Poul Anderson as story-teller. Fred Pohl as explorer. For example hi AGE OF PUSSYFOOT... nailed personal phone/assistant/Siri back in 1980. Stunning book.

My own list of favorite Science Fiction & Fantasy Books: from Asimov to Clarke, from Bradbury to Brunner: http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2012/01/david-brins-list-of-greatest-science.html

Recommendations for Young Adult Science Fiction: with books from Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, Philip K. Dick, Robert Heinlein…http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2011/11/science-fiction-for-young-adults.html

void22585 karma

Your Uplift Novels are among my favorite ever. There hasn't been anything in a while though, despite the hanging ending you gave us in Temptation. When will we see some more? Will we find out more about Earth or will we be focused solely on Jijo from now on?

davidbrin14 karma

Those books didn't sell as well as I expected. But I have 40,000 words of another (great!;-) Jijo novel and hope to get to it. Oh how I wish I had the self-copier from KILN PEOPLE! I would put it out in no time!

julirew5 karma

It sounds like your new novel, "Existence," has a lot of "coming of age" observations in it. Looking ahead to the future, what advice would you give to today's young people for a happy, purposeful life?

davidbrin14 karma

Well, first you might have kids view this little posting I offer of advice for college students and graduating high-schoolers - how to make the most out of university life! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zJTo9qXAcnc

kephale5 karma

When you wrote for Ecco the Dolphin, how much direction were you given? Was it like an outline that you had to flesh out or did you have free reign to do whatever you wanted?

davidbrin18 karma

Great Question! I loved that project. Usually, the writer makes the story and then the artists must follow. That is as it should be!!! ;-)

But it can be fun the other way. Start with art and then write a story to fit it. In this case, the action scenes for ECCO were already underway and they had a good logical path. A great game! But they needed reasons why Ecco would be on a quest through time. So I supplied that plot and story and narration...

... and it turned out to be something really beautiful.

almondy_5 karma


davidbrin18 karma

Huh! Well music is great. I gotta admit. Sometimes I put in Polodarus's film score for CONAN THE BARBARIAN. It is SO cinematic and storytelling and over-the-top dramatic. You must either be repelled or just give in and let it FORCE you to fantacize!

JackDT5 karma

Just thought I'd point out that you don't have to answer everything in one go.

This post will very likely be on the front page until at least midday tomorrow if not longer. It may have started out slowly but it is still climbing the front page even 7 hour later.

You sound tired - come back in the morning after coffee!

davidbrin14 karma

I may indeed to that. Fatigued.


and tell folks to watch tinyurl.com/exist-trailer meanwhile!


okay, sorry....

davidbrin14 karma

Okay.... just to tell you all I am alive and recovered after that 8 hour session yesterday! You were all so smart and savvy and dang POLITE that I really feel compelled to come back and wade down the queue of questions. I'll start in on that around noon Pacific time... in about an hour or 90 minutes.

Please do scan the threads to see if your question (e.g. about Costner) was already answered! BCNU soon. David Brin

wishinghand4 karma

What contemporary scifi creators do you think are the most innovative and forward thinking?

As in who makes the scifi today that you can't put down regardless of its quality and who makes you say, "Goddamn, now that is done speculative fiction!"?

davidbrin17 karma

Scalzi and Stross are having fun. Bear and Robinson and Vinge try for the unusual perspective

davidbrin15 karma

What am I reading now? Many fine choices! I recently read Vinge’s Children of the Sky. Now reading Stan Robinson’s 2312. Next up: Scalzi’s Red Shirts

My favorite Science fiction authors? John Brunner’s five years as the mad god of 60’s SciFi. Poul Anderson as story-teller. Fred Pohl as explorer. For example hi AGE OF PUSSYFOOT... nailed personal phone/assistant/Siri back in 1980. Stunning book.

My own list of favorite Science Fiction & Fantasy Books: from Asimov to Clarke, from Bradbury to Brunner: http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2012/01/david-brins-list-of-greatest-science.html

matt3x1664 karma

Dr. Brin, I also wanted to thank you the work you have produced over the years. I read Earth when it came out and something you put in that book has stayed with me since: It was a small blurb, barely mentioned, where Professor Wolling was logging into her computer and you wrote where citizens had to subscribe to a minimum amount of news or lose the right to vote. What I really appreciated was the surprise factor where news items that didn't meet the threshold were place into her news feed anyway. It was because of that I began to read things that were not only not interesting to me, but also contrary to my opinions. This has helped me change my thoughts on numerous topics over the years and hopefully made me a better person.

Also, I am currently re-reading Kiln People (my second copy of the book) and just love that you put out such rollicking good action books with such a large amount of thought provoking material. I can't wait to read Existence.

davidbrin16 karma

Wow... After 7 hours I was about to drag off. But that was worth staying around for. Thanks so much. Hope you like the new one (which is a lot like EARTH in many ways) just as much. Write to tell me!

With cordial regards,

David Brin http://www.davidbrin.com blog: http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/ twitter: http://twitter.com/DavidBrin1

gustavsen4 karma

What think about EARTH novel? was written in 1990 and you show us lot of things that we enjoy now.

I'm waiting the arrive of Existence now, but you know when will be translated to Spanish.


davidbrin17 karma

And thanks to you and gracias, friend.

It happens that fans have set up a wiki to track predictions made in EARTH and in The Transparent Society - with a score of about 40% hits and another 40% "not yet proved".

Hoping SOME of the predictions in Existence go similarly... though som I hope will not come true.

good luck! david brin

SamaraiScribe3 karma

In The Practice Effect there is a reference to the Vanilla Needle. Was there a specific reason you wanted to place this story in the world of Sundiver and the Uplift Saga?

davidbrin18 karma

Oh... you got me. That was a self-indulgence. Like Lucas forcing us to meet C3PO and R2D2 long before they ever would have been made... oh but don't get me started on Star Wars!!!

wishinghand3 karma

I do not remember the Vanilla Needle reference in either work. What was it?

davidbrin13 karma

just in passing///

maskiatlan3 karma

So what do you think will happen if there is alien signal detected and confirmed? What do you think should happen? What if signal is from somewhere near? What would be "near"?

davidbrin14 karma

I was on the committee that wrote the "SETI Protocol" re what scientists should do, if a signal is detected. A wise document! Alas, there have been unwise moves since then.

"Near"? You mean possibly from within the solar system? Many of us have long thought that mechanical or solid state probes, cast between the stars, are a more likely mode of contact than radio beams.

In fact... that is exactly the topic of... EXISTENCE! ;-)

see tinyurl.com/exist-trailer

therealsteve3 karma

I love The Postman, though I suspect this is entirely because I read the book first, and loved it to death. Ditto pretty much everything you've ever written. Especially the uplift trilogies. I've noticed that none of your other books have been made into major movies (that I know of. Correct me if I'm wrong), despite a vast plethora of viable candidates.

Is this an active choice on your part? Would you consider pursuing the possibility of getting one of your books made into a movie, in the future?

davidbrin13 karma

UR gr8!!!

Wish I weren't 7 hours reddit exhausted.


actionslacks3 karma

No questions from me, I just appreciate what you do.

davidbrin18 karma

Thanks so much. UR Gr8! Go to http://www.davidbrin.com and sign up to receive newsletters! (just once or twice a year....)

blossomteacher3 karma

No questions, just wanted to say I love your work. The first book of yours that I read was "Kiln People." It screwed with my head in a completely new way...I went to sleep after reading a few chapters, and woke up in the morning, thinking "Ok, I've got this and that going today. I'm gonna need an ebony and 2 greens." Had to put it aside for several years before I could read it through. Anyway, thanks for doing the AMA!

davidbrin13 karma

You are welcome. and thanks for kind words.

Wish I weren't 7 hours reddit exhausted. Thanks!

[deleted]3 karma


davidbrin14 karma

Wow. Thanks for a fascinating, intellectual question. But it's been rough. Now, after 7 hours, suddenly people are swarming in!

Wish I could hang around. But slammed... and brain won't wrap around your question.

BAsically, I do not believe in eternal verities. There is human improvability or why live? Much of what you ask about is in EXISTENCE.


good luck. db

[deleted]3 karma

Speaking of book trailers, were you as disappointed as I was at the entries for the CG Challenge on the Uplift Universe?

After that fantastic EON trailer, I wanted to see dolphins driving starships and pissing off the Gubru. But no, all we got were half-assed aliens from people who didn't even bother reading the source material.

davidbrin17 karma

Good call... yes I was deeply disappointed. It turned out that most of the CG Challenge guys live in Eastern Europe or South Asia. None of them had read Greg's books OR mine! But Greg created a thirty page outline to guide them and I said have fun I leave it to your creativity!

I learned a lesson.

yunofrothy4me3 karma

I love your work. You're work on the 2nd Foundation trilogy was great too. I like your ideas about how society can be changed, and how you use your fame to make people aware of ideas of how things can get better or unfair laws that are trying to be passed.

Given the speed of technology, with robots, 3d printing of things and even organs I believe we're heading towards a society where in a few generations money won't really make sense.

Q1 - Do you think humans as a species could survive in a world where there is no scarcity?
Q2 - Will the pursuit of wisdom ever have a place in the world?
Q3 - What is the biggest failure of people to take advantage of technology or inappropriate use of technology in your opinion? (internet -> Facebook for example)

SETI question - recently our wireless communication methods have gone from single channel to spread spectrum. If you really wanted to send a signal to another planetary star system, how would you do it? How much power, what kind of signal, etc.

Even if we had World War III and destroyed ourselves with nukes, would that be enough to get noticed on a cosmic scale? If one of the planets we've seen with our telescopes blew itself up in such a manner, could we detect it?

We can listen, but can we speak?

BTW, I've heard you had a new book out but the trailer makes me want to read it a lot. That's really surprising that a youtube video makes me want to read a book... well - a specific book.

davidbrin15 karma

Must hurry.

Q1 I think Start Trek is the most wholesome sci fi ever and it portrays a somewhat post-scarcity world. Look we already live in such a world. Our cave ancestors would call us gods.

Q2 Wisdom is already high on the agenda! Problem is that there is a movement in America to proclaim that all people with brains are therefore automatically unwise.

Q3 I have a 126 claim patent on new ways to interact online. A beautiful system that has no interest from the Big Boys. In Existence I portray better interface!

WWIII nuke war would not have altered our Oxygen atmosphere's detectability. But such things might lower the NUMBER of ETIs to make contact with. Again, covered in Existence!

Edwin_Quine3 karma

Hello fellow contrarian. I am often conflicted by the roots of my own contrarian streak.

On even days, I tell myself that issues are complicated, groups form hive-minds, and that I am providing a much needed service by deflating group-think.

On odd days, I tell myself that I merely enjoy arguing for its own sake, and I enjoy the status points conferred to me by winning arguments and by brandishing my erudition.

Do you know where your own contrarian streak comes from?

davidbrin17 karma

A sense of how desperately little time we have to get things right. And that everybody who enslaves themselves to a simpleminded dogma is betraying their own agility of mind or ability to learn from one another.

Even if your side is 80% right, it desperately needs its faults questioned!

Rusted_Satellites3 karma

Wow, awesome books.

  1. Were humans Uplifted or wholly evolved?
  2. What were the Buyur up to?
  3. What was that ancient fleet with the mummy up to?

davidbrin19 karma


2 will be answered in the next and final Jijo novel and that must wait some years... even though I have 35,000 words of that novel written!

First I must answer #1 and #3 in the long awaited "creideiki-orley" novel, which is my next BIG PROJECTS. I must still finish FOUR other things first! But that's what I promised folks. Ain't getting any younger.

Rainieri3 karma

I justwant to say I loved The Postman and if you ever did another book in that universe I would buy it in a heartbeat.

davidbrin17 karma

Great! I might've written the sequel (I had one in mind) if the movie had been a hit. (It oddly was in Kazakstan: the ikon of the freedom movement there!)

But I am only one guy and unlike some authors I cannot do the same thing. Too many directions! So I incoporate many threads in one book.

KILN PEOPLE was about what I really want. Not immortality, but to be able to get done, each day EVERYTHING I want to do that day! If I had that machine, I'd write that sequel!

gbooman3 karma

Existence is a big book; if it was broken up into several parts, you would make more money... uhhh, right? Just curious about the thinking that goes into sizing and splitting a big story like this.

Also, I've heard that e-books return less money to the author. Is that right? Or generally true?

davidbrin19 karma

That would be unfair. As-is, I felt sheepish about breaking up Brightness Reef/Heaven's Reach, which was twice as long!

EXISTENCE gives you your moneys worth! Yes the hardcover ain't cheap. But divide the cost by the number of hours of enjoyment ? There's only one better value...

...video games... okay I'll admit you get more hours per dollar. But do they give you more ideas? Or skills? Or moments of drama to remember decades later? ;-)

In fact, e-books return a higher % to the author than hardcovers do. Moreover, if you go to http://www.davidbrin.com there's a way to get a signed bookplate so your e-copy is "signed."

I still like books tho!

fredrodgers3 karma

I loved your Foundation's Triumph. I loved the whole Foundation series, especially since his original books are (nearly) only conversations! I'd love to hear your thoughts on the current state of Science Fiction writing, and what you think would lead a popular return to more positive writing. Thanks!

davidbrin15 karma

Janet Asimov very kindly told me that FT was her favorite non-Isaac book in the Asimov world. I tried to tie together all the loose ends he left in a tasty and symmetrical (if surprising) way.

[deleted]3 karma

No question, I just wanted to say "thank you". Reading The Postman (never saw the movie) really inspired me and got me reading fiction regularly again after a decade and a half of avoiding fiction. I read it twice in a row. That it took place where I live only added to the enjoyment.

Anyways, thanks for enriching my life.

davidbrin14 karma

As you enriched mine with such kind words. Thank you. I mean that.

Now be a great citizen, db

asylumsaint3 karma

Hey, I dont mean to post late, I hope I can still get a chance to get a reply out of you. Also if you already replied to this question sorry for a repost. Dont have time to read all the questions.

What suggestions would you have for aspiring young adults interested in Astrophysics / SETA.

I am more so looking towards Astro-biology mixed with a physics background. but, what can I do to prepare myself for entering college and working in fields related to this. Do you think its worth per-suing this kind of career considering the current job market?

Just wanted to add, I noticed the small turnout, sorry that reddit kinda screwed you on that. It wasnt you're fault from what i've seen and read. I just assume part of it could be the timing... honestly, until you mentioned it, I didnt know the AMA was scheduled ... which is prob why I missed every single one of them so far. So thanks for showing me that! I hope to hear from you, if not ill check out your blog and try again.

davidbrin16 karma

Well, well, here's the deal. To become an astrophysicist you must go to grad school and there you'll be offered research assistantships with maybe one of five professors who will happen to have a grant to pay you, at the time. It is a crucial phase so be careful. Even if the prof is okay and nice and prestigious, you may wind up researching that area for the rest of your life!

Hey, I am making it sound awful, it's not. Anyway, if you study this field, you'll learn so much science you'll be employable, even if life veers you another way...

...as it did me! Hope that helps.

asylumsaint3 karma

Yes thanks! I really appreciate you taking the time to reply to my post.

I guess I just felt like adding, because, it seems somewhat relevant to talking with you, I guess my dream with science would be helping man kind establish and sustain life in space (i.e. base on the moon, colony space stations) as a permanent solution for life besides just the earth. I know that based on what you've said finding a prof who takes me in as an assistant is the crucial part, and getting to a point where I could study something related to my "dream" might be much harder than I think.

Is it worth persuing a dream like that, or is it better left set on the back burners and focus my work and effort else where?

davidbrin15 karma

Wish I weren't 7 hours reddit exhausted.

But yes we must recover the dream....

good luck!

DiamoJack3 karma

Hi David,

I've been inspired by your general thoughts on the Enlightment and especially this piece on Tolkein:


Whenever I participate in a pen and paper roll playing game now (Dungeons and Dragons, etc) I work such a conflict into my character or the world as a central tenet. It's so much fun fighting for Kobold rights in these games and really adds some interesting ideas into the mix.

In fact I just can't tolerate a straight up Romantic style fantasy fiction any longer. I'm so sick of glorifying hereditary rule (we must restore the rightful heir!) or the Chosen-One-Who-Will-Save-Us, etc.

I find it interesting that a decent portion of modern fantasy fiction is either extremely cynical of such ideas or eschew them all together.

Have you considered writing any fantasy, or at least books with the appearance of being in the fantasy genre, but with your particular take on it?

davidbrin13 karma

Wonderful! I answered this about writing fantasy in one of the earliest threads. But yes, when I do write one, the hero will be the daughter of a blacksmith. And she'll demand progress.

Anne McCaffrey didn't write fantasy! She insisted, it was sci fi. Because her people learn they once had flush toilets and starships.

Dragons or not, they want those things back!

Wish I weren't 7 hours reddit exhausted. Thanks!

dieron3 karma

What do you think of other authors, like Douglas Adams, and Michael Crichton?

davidbrin18 karma

I miss Doug Adams terribly... and in his honor I am writing a sci fi comedy! Comedies are very very hard to get right, so I am nervous. But a lot of people say it's gut-busting so I am hopeful.

Michael Crichton was a very nice man who always wagged his finger at us all warning us against scientific ambition. He helped to inspire one of the major characters in my new novel. In fact, you'll glimpse him in the trailer! tinyurl.com/exist-trailer

davidbrin15 karma

BTW... my sci= fi comedy I just mentioned is the more sober of two. There is a shorter one that is simply outrageous!


KosherNazi3 karma

How can I become a futurist?

davidbrin18 karma

Get a time machine! In fact. Because I just gave you this advice, you will become obsessed and get rich and powerful and then send one back to your present day self, to find... hm... behind your garage. It is disguised, of course.....

maskiatlan3 karma

  1. How did you come up with Uplift concept?
  2. How do you develop your alien races?
  3. What are your thoughts on [email protected]?
  4. What are your thoughts on people pirating your books?

Big fan here from Croatia, I enjoyed your books very much.

davidbrin12 karma

1.... see my answer to an earlier question. Great question and a cool train of thought.

2: varies. Some aliens I just exaggerate some human traits. Others I think of something poignant or tragic that hardly ever happens to us but that might be ROUTINE and taken for granted with some other race. In other cases I start with their strange environment, as Hal Clement did.

  1. [email protected] was a great thing. Possibly the best accomplishment of the otherwise somewhat mis-directed SETI Institute. (I still support their efforts, as wrongheaded as I think they can sometimes be.)

No, the folks with the right idea... but no money... are the SETI LEague. But you can read about that in EXISTENCE!

4 see an answer above... hope I satisfied