Posts Tagged ‘David Brin’

Prometheus, First Contact and David Brin’s EXISTENCE

Poster for the movie Prometheus and how it relates to David Brin's science fiction novel EXISTENCEOn Friday night I could barely contain my excitement. I – along with thousands upon thousands of  people across the country – had tickets to PROMETHEUS, undoubtedly the most talked-about science fiction film release of the year so far. And where better to see it, but the glorious Empire cinema on Leicester Square, in 3D.

The air was filled with anticipation as we all crammed through the doors and were handed our 3D specs. And then when the opening scenes began, with sweeping views across spectacular landscapes on Earth, enhanced by the 3D effects (probably the most unobtrusive and therefore effective I’ve seen in a movie so far) – we knew that this was going to be something big. And then, when the shadow of a city-sized spaceship began to darken the landscape, it began to feel truly epic.

What bigger a subject is there than first contact with alien life?

Existence, a new science fiction novel from David Brin about first contact with alien life - and how it relates to the Prometheus filmI couldn’t help but constantly draw parallels with David Brin‘s new novel EXISTENCE, and not just because of the 3D effect (with our first edition featuring a very cool 3D cover). But because at the heart of EXISTENCE is the discovery of an alien artefact floating in Earth’s orbit, picked up by a galactic garbage trawler. It appears to be a message in a bottle, an invitation to “join us” from another sentient species out in the vastness of the universe. At the same time, another artefact is found in the ruins of a sunken beach-front mansion, which warns humanity away from making contact with this other life form.

This highlights the question which forever prods at us and teases us. It’s the dilemma at the very centre of both PROMETHEUS and EXISTENCE: would making contact with an alien life form be a good idea? Would these (presumably more intelligent) beings have an inherent desire to help humanity, to set us straight, sort out our squabbling, or offer us a shiny new planet when we’ve trashed our own beyond repair? Or would they in fact just try to eat our faces, use us as lovely host organisms and generally be bad news for the continuing future of mankind?

Now we all know that PROMETHEUS is a prequel to the other ALIEN films, so could safely assume that these otherwordly creatures were not going to be our BFFs. But what a thrilling experience to see the journey up until that point: where we hope to find out that mankind can have a meaningful and significant place within the universe by uniting with another sentient species. And then how awesomely epic to see those hopes dashed in spectacular, breathtaking and violently dramatic ways?

I’m glad to say that my expectations for PROMETHEUS were certainly met. The special effects are magnificent – the kind where you have to pinch yourself to remember that this isn’t real footage, and that massive organic-looking Titus of an alien spaceship did not actually just rise from behind them yonder hills. And even if it sometimes seems that the need for great effects can take over from the need for flawless acting, the performance of Michael Fassbender more than made up for it, as the eerie robot David. The pace of the film was also a real strong point. There wasn’t a single moment when my concentration lapsed and the plot was sturdy enough (although not as strong as the original ALIEN movies). Overall it was a totally enthralling, enjoyable experience.

If I was going to have one small criticism, it would be that the characters seemed a tad nonplussed when they finally discover solid proof of alien life. Whereas the beauty of EXISTENCE is that it really focuses on the question of how proof of alien life would affect mankind. What would the initial evidence of alien life mean for all different people in different walks of life? Would the politician try to veil the truth from the general public? Would the journalist become set on letting the public know what they’re in for? Would the anti-technology prophet claim that the only way to survive would be to end democracy? What would it mean for each  of us? How would the world react? Is this the end, or a new beginning?

I won’t give any spoilers, but what happens all feels frighteningly, awe-inspiringly real. EXISTENCE is set a few decades in the future, but who knows if the day when we’ll actually be answering some of these questions is closer than we think? Let’s see if 2012 might really be as significant a year as the Mayans thought…

PROMETHEUS is at cinemas nationwide now, and EXISTENCE (UK | ANZ) will be released on 21st June 2012 with a limited edition 3D cover.

David Brin on EXISTENCE, Google’s Project Glass and the transformative power of science fiction

Cover for the near-future science fiction novel EXISTENCE by David Brin, author of the Uplift novels - with a limited-edition 3D coverAt the end of last year, we here at Orbit received a very exciting treat in our inboxes . . . a new manuscript from the critically acclaimed David Brin.

Author of the classic UPLIFT series, EARTH and THE POSTMAN (made into a major motion picture), he’s widely lauded not just for writing thrillingly addictive science fiction, but also for his track record for accurately predicting the future within his novels.

It’s been ten years since the release of David’s last book, so the arrival of the manuscript for EXISTENCE (UK | ANZ) really was quite an event. And it’s no exaggeration to say that this could well be his pièce de resistance.

It’s an edge-of-your-seat novel of the near-future, where discovery of an alien artefact throws the world into chaos. The absolute compelling nature of this book, and the sheer breadth and brilliance of the ideas expressed within it made me want to find out more about David’s thought processes behind it (beyond the usual questions I’d ask as part of our author/editor relationship!). Read on for an insight into what lead to its creation . . .

David Brin, author of the near-future science fiction novel EXISTENCE - credit Cheryl Brigham
David Brin - photo by Cheryl Brigham

AG: Despite your incredible success as a writer, you’ve mentioned elsewhere that being an author wasn’t your first career of choice. Tell us more?

DB: Writing was the first truly verifiable, repeatable and effective form of magic. Picture how it must have impressed ancient people to look at marks – on papyrus or clay – and know they conveyed the words of scribes and kings long dead. Knowledge, wisdom and art could finally accumulate, and death was robbed some of its sting. Writing still is magical. To create strings of black squiggles that millions of others can skillfully de-code with just their eyes – into emotions and thoughts, or the struggles of believable characters.

Still, every culture had storytellers. I was drawn toward a much newer kind of profession, that only gained real momentum the last few generations. Science. A shared endeavor to find out what is true, despite our preconceptions.  Wow, that too is amazing! And I managed to contribute a few new bits of knowledge.

Still, when a chance came along to combine the two? Who wouldn’t grab such an opportunity?

AG: It’s been almost a decade since the release of your last novel. Have scientific developments over the last 10 years forced you at all to reassess the vision of the future you’ve held in previous books?

DB: Well of course. But remember, good science fiction isn’t about any static view. It should offer thought experiments about change.  How it transforms real societies and realistic characters.  Change has been the one, great constant of modernity and its rate is accelerating.  Many of our social and political squabbles spiral around this one fact. A lot of folks don’t like the staccato pace of disruptions and new ideas, even good ones. 

But if we don’t poke ahead, peering into the fog, how will we ever find our way?  (more…)

BRIN IS BACK. And with an exclusive 3D cover.

Orbit UK is proud to announce the release in June of a spectacular new novel from a grand master of science fiction – with a very special limited edition cover.

Over 20 years ago, David Brin began the Uplift series – a set of novels that would sweep the board for science fiction awards year after year. David would go on to create a vast range of fiction, computer game storylines and graphic novels – as well as having his novel The Postman turned into a major motion picture.

Now, 10 years after his last book, David Brin returns in epic style with Existence (UK | ANZ), an all-encompassing novel of the near future. Both brilliant and terrifying, the book portrays mankind facing a crisis and potentially its imminent demise.

We are also thrilled to unveil the news that the first edition of Existence, released on 21st June 2012, will feature a cover with a unique 3D “lenticular” effect. The cover gives an impression of floating in space miles above Earth, and its distinctive nature means this book is likely to fast become a collectors’ item. There will be just one print run of this edition – and it will only be available until stocks last.

See the video below for a preview of what’s to come:

And see below for some of the exceptional praise the book has already received.

 ‘David Brin takes on one of the fundamental themes in science fiction – and one of the fundamental questions humanity faces in this century. Since Brin is both a great storyteller and one of the most imaginative writers around, Existence is not to be missed’ Vernor Vinge, Hugo award-winning author of Fire Upon the Deep

‘Take a world soaked in near-future strangeness and complexity . . . Hotwire with wisdom and wonder  . . . Brin is back.’ Stephen Baxter, bestselling author of Ark