I have written before about one of my favourite SF writers David Brin. I have read many of his books and my favourites are the Uplift-novels. About a year and a half ago he had a new book out; Existence. While Brin does not fall into the use your most successful baby and build around it he does not completely abandon it either. It is there, a little, not much but enough to bring a smile to a fans face.
Existence is not your average SF novel. It is about so many things and that makes it complex. Time moves along in a linear fashion but holds gaps, twists and turns. Gaps that are not always filled in later. There are storylines that are abandoned but give some sign of life later. It is as if David Brin leaves doors open to explore at a later date. Some story lines that seem abandoned do come back in unexpected ways. It is not easy to hold together or to get into as so much is happening. It does help if you are familiar with his other books and writing style. What I love about it is that it surprises and engages your own fantasy. You end up thinking with the characters to what the solution brings. Nothing is straight forward and yet it is. In that respect it has a certain mystery novel flair to it too.
It simply starts with that what humanity is known for; a massive dose of curiosity when something new is found (in space). And also seeking the boundaries of our known universe. Looking at the stars, to boldly go as they say in Star Trek. But also that other thing we do so well. Complex plotting, scheming and how money talks. A bit mystery thrown in as mankind tries to find out what happened when their curiosity got the better of them, with the internet equivalent having a major role in it all. It is about space travel in a way. It is old fashioned hard SF mixed with a thriller and a great inquisitive journalist, drama and making your think. It is about alien life, but not in a classic sense. It is new and exciting and excessively hard to describe what it is about. I loved the end as it is open, it is exciting and has a huge massive feel.good factor.
Oh and the journalist has an interesting name Tor Povlov. I could not help but thinking; publisher is Tor Books, or is it is reference to (bit)torrents? Both seem possible. Povlov a spin on Ivan Pavlov? Pavlov is known for his work on classical conditioning. The book with its focus on known human interactions and in a way predictability would suggest so IMO. I love the “Pandora’s Cornucopium” references. The Cornucopium seems reading as a cross between the Encyclopedia Brittanica and a book of doom.
Now if you do not like hard SF don’t start on this book. However if you do and if you like to be surprised and have the feeling of untangling a mystery this book is great. I closed it with a smile, but I can imagine that some people would find it too much and that it hold to many story lines that come together too late.