David Brin is truly a science fiction luminary. Among his notable works are "Earth," "The Practice Effect," "Glory Season," "The Postman," and the award-winning Uplift series. Brin's latest book is "Heaven's Reach," which completes the second Uplift trilogy. He's also just published a nonfiction book about privacy called "The Transparent Society." Brin stopped by Amazon.com's offices to chat with us about "The Transparent Society." We asked him all kinds of questions, but none quite like the ones you'll find below in this mock interview he wrote for our Science Fiction and Fantasy e-mail subscribers.
The book featured on this page is David Brin's "Heaven's Reach"
The real Amazon.com interview with David Brin is here.
****** My Amazon.com Interview... ? by David Brin Amazon.com: You are sometimes called a modern Bard of Optimism. But is optimism valid any longer in today's society? David Brin: I have good reasons for thinking things are getting better. From the Neanderthal era until just a few generations ago, an opinionated contrarian like me would most likely have been burned at the stake. But in this culture I'm well paid and respected for spinning scenarios about the future ... and nobody even gripes when my prophecies sometimes prove wrong! I get to criticize icons of authority in every direction, without fear. Is it any wonder that I appreciate getting to live in such times? I grew up watching missiles streak into the heavens, wondering if some might return to blast everyone to bits. I was vaccinated against diseases that crippled cousins of my parents' generation. I spent scores of hours tormented in a dentist's chair, a common experience in my day that kids today cannot even imagine. I've seen a nation teeter on the edge of chaos (the sixties) and come back more honorable than before. I've also seen science unroll blueprints of the universe before our eyes. (I even got to help unroll the plans a little.) We live in an era of change. How people deal with it, for well or ill, seems a worthy topic that no genre handles better than science fiction. And much of the change we've seen offers some reason for hope. Alas, many people who benefited from this marvelous young civilization call it "decadent." They say our ancestors were better than we are ... as if that statement honors past folk somehow. In fact, we are a mightier, wiser, better people ... exactly as our ancestors would have wanted us to be. And if our great-grandchildren aren't vastly better than us, I plan to come back and haunt them! Don't call that optimism. Call it reasonable ambition. If you want a real optimist, look up Ray Bradbury. Guy's nuts. He actually likes people. Amazon.com: You claim you may be the last great science fiction author ... because of modern dentistry? Brin: Fillings. Young folks don't have as many nowadays. Turns out they're radio antennae to Zone X, where all the great story ideas come from. I hears 'em all night long. Unless that's the country station next door, frying my neurons at 50,000 watts ... urk. Amazon.com: Some readers find it hard to believe the same person wrote "Glory Season," the humorous "Practice Effect," and "The Transparent Society." Are the worlds of fiction and nonfiction that different? Brin: I may be best known for big, brash space adventures like "Heaven's Reach." But I like to alternate the gaudy, far-future stuff with works that are more intimate and close to home. "The Postman" wasn't even marketed as science fiction. As for the dilemma of secrecy that I discuss in "The Transparent Society," I also talked about it in "Earth." But sometimes a topic is just too complex and important to handle in a novel alone. Nonfiction is ten times the work, for a tenth of the money. But you get to work out an idea in some detail without having to interrupt it with the next car chase or love scene. Still, all told, I'll stick mostly to fiction. For one thing, my characters can't sue me, no matter what I put them through! Amazon.com: Is there an overall theme one can see in every book? Brin: I try not to be repetitive or boring, but I'd have to guess that all my works are in some way about growing up. Peter Pan sounds romantic and all that. But in the long run we'll win far greater rewards by looking the universe in the eye, and accepting responsibility for taking care of part of it. I guess you could compare our situation to being a parent. Serious ... and it can be loads of fun. Featured on this page:"Heaven's Reach" by David Brin.
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