Existence

David Brin. Tor, $27.99 (560p) ISBN 978-0-7653-0361-5
The discovery of alien artifacts pushes an already troubled Earth to the brink of chaos in bestseller Brin’s exciting story of first contact. Gerald Livingston finds an alien “egg” while cleaning space garbage out of valuable satellite orbits. When word leaks to the press, speculation and fears abound. Change has already brought “Awfulday,” when Washington, D.C., was hit by a dirty bomb, and an autism plague has created a generation that neurotypical people can’t understand. As a self-styled antitechnology prophet, Tenskwatawa, calls for slowing down technological progress, the alien artifact is an unwelcome “Disturber,” even as it promises to fix all Earth’s problems—with a catch, of course. Meanwhile, a second artifact recovered by a desperate Chinese fisherman warns against following other artifacts, suggesting these miniature Pandora’s boxes have steered Earth’s culture for some 9,000 years. Are the artifacts truly “worldstones,” full of wonders and ingenious advice, or “demon-stones” that will only ruin the little stability to which humanity clings? Brin’s thoughtful, multilayered story explores a first contact scenario where every twist reveals greater peril. His longtime fans will especially appreciate that this story could be read as a prequel to 1983’s Startide Rising, while those not familiar with his work will find it an impressive introduction to one of SF’s major talents. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/09/2012
Release date: 06/19/2012
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