David Brin
Existence Cover



Interesting book: VERY interesting; Brin has always done Big SF well, and this is no exception.

I love his premise: that not only are we not the first intelligent species in our galaxy, but that the rest of them are nearly all dead AND have been sending us mail - first, in the shape of von Neumann machines, and then via virus-like crystal entities.

And that the mail is intelligent, a lot of it doesn't get on with much of the rest, and all most of it wants is to get replicated.

It is an intelligent exploration of the Fermi Paradox, of the logical development of what happens if von Neumann replicators start spreading galaxy-wide - and what humanity can do about it. And indeed, about what constitutes a human, as well. It is also all firmly constrained by Einsteinian physics, with the underlying premise that getting biological entities out of a solar system is a waste of time.

I thought it was a great book, and I will be keeping it on my iPad until Amazon doesn't let me download it any more. However, I also think it was flawed in a number of ways - which are a pity, but he potentially created a whole universe for others to play in... hint, hint!

It is flawed in that it abruptly jumps decades at a time; it painstakingly develops characters who seem central - and then dumps them; it hints endlessly at the existence of "cobblies" who cannot be seen except by not looking at them (but which seem visible to autistic folk and possibly Neanderthals) - and then sidesteps their existence altogether.

The book reads a bit like a set of short stories and novellas not-that-well cobbled into a novel - as if there exist bits we haven't seen yet, which may fill in the gaps.

I hope so: I would like to see more in this Universe.