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David Brin

Glen David Brin (born October 6, 1950) is an American scientist and author of science fiction. He has received the Hugo, Locus, Campbell and Nebula Awards. His novel The Postman was adapted as a feature film and starred Kevin Costner in 1997. Brin's nonfiction book The Transparent Society won the Freedom of Speech Award of the American Library Association and the McGannon Communication Award.

Early life and education

Brin was born in Glendale, California in 1950 to a Jewish family. He graduated from the California Institute of Technology with a Bachelor of Science in astronomy, in 1973. At the University of California, San Diego, he earned a Master of Science in applied physics in 1978 and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in space science in 1981. From 1983 to 1986 he was a postdoctoral research fellow at the California Space Institute, of the University of California, at the San Diego campus in La Jolla.


Brin is a 2010 fellow of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies. He helped establish the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination (UCSD). He serves on the advisory board of NASA's Innovative and Advanced Concepts group and frequently does futurist consulting for corporations and government agencies.

Brin consults and speaks for a wide variety of groups interested in the future, ranging from Defense Department agencies and the CIA to Procter & Gamble, SAP, Google and other major corporations. He has also been a participant in discussions at the Philanthropy Roundtable and other groups seeking innovative problem solving approaches.

Brin has a very active side career in public speaking and consultation. He appears frequently on science or future related television shows such as The Universe, Life After People, Alien Encounters, Worlds of Tomorrow, and many others. He briefly was a regular on the challenge design show The Architechs in which "five geniuses" were challenged to solve a major problem (e.g. new ways in and out of burning buildings) in 48 hours.

He also serves on the Board of Advisors for the Museum of Science Fiction.



Brin's works, when taken as a whole, is normally categorized as hard science fiction, in that most (not all) works apply some degree of plausible scientific or technological change as partial plot drivers. Exceptions include the graphic novel The Life Eaters, in which Norse gods assist the Nazis.

The Uplift stories

About half of Brin's works are in his Uplift Universe. These have twice won the international Science Fiction Achievement Award (Hugo Award) in the Best Novel category.

The Uplift novels are:

  • Sundiver (1980)
  • Startide Rising (1983) – Hugo and Locus SF Awards winner, 1984; Nebula Award winner, 1983
  • The Uplift War (1987) – Hugo and Locus SF Awards winner, 1988; Nebula Award nominee, 1987
  • The Uplift Trilogy (sometimes called the Uplift Storm trilogy, in a compendium called "Exiles"):
    • Brightness Reef (1995) – Hugo and Locus SF Awards nominee, 1996
    • Infinity's Shore (1996)
    • Heaven's Reach (1998) ISBN 0-553-57473-6

Additionally, Brin wrote two short stories set in the Uplift universe, "Temptation" and "Aficionado". "Temptation" appeared in Robert Silverberg's anthology Far Horizons: All New Tales from the Greatest Worlds of Science Fiction and is set after the events in the Infinity's Shore. "Aficionado" was published in the limited-edition collection Tomorrow Happens, and is a short-story prequel to the novels. This story was originally published as "Life in the Extreme" in Popular Science Magazine Special Edition (August 1998). Both stories are also freely available on Brin's website. Brin has stated that he intends to return to the uplift universe at some point, but is not currently working on anything. A segment of his novel Existence deals with the origins of dolphin Uplift and hence might be considered linked to the Uplift Universe.

Brin co-wrote with Kevin Lenagh Contacting Aliens: An Illustrated Guide to David Brin's Uplift Universe.

Other fiction

Brin has written a number of stand-alone novels:

  • The Practice Effect (1984)
  • The Postman (1985) – Campbell and Locus SF Awards winner, Hugo Award nominee, 1986; Nebula Award nominee, 1985 Originally appeared, in substantially different form, as a three-part novella in Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine. Filmed by Kevin Costner as a major motion picture.
  • Heart of the Comet (1986) (with Gregory Benford) – Locus SF Award nominee, 1987
  • Earth (1990) – Hugo and Locus SF Awards nominee, 1991 Contains many successful predictions of current trends (such as email spam) and technologies.
  • Glory Season (1993) – Hugo and Locus SF Awards nominee, 1994
  • Kiln People (2002) – Campbell, Clarke, Hugo, and Locus SF Awards nominee, 2003. Kiln People (published in the UK as Kil'n People) was shortlisted in four different awards for best SF/fantasy novel of 2002—the Hugo, the Locus, the John W. Campbell Award, and the Arthur C. Clarke Award; each time finishing behind a different book.
  • Existence, Tor Books, 2012 ISBN 978-0-765-30361-5

Graphic novels:

  • Forgiveness (2002) – set in the Star Trek: The Next Generation universe
  • The Life Eaters (2003) – published by the Wildstorm imprint of DC Comics, art by Scott Hampton
  • Tinkerers (2010) – discussion of the causes of the decline of American manufacturing

His short fiction has been collected in:

  • The River of Time (1986)
  • Otherness (1994)
  • Tomorrow Happens (2003)

Other works by Brin include his addition to Asimov's Foundation Universe:

  • Foundation's Triumph (1999)

and his addition to Eric Flint's 1632-verse:

  • 71 in Ring of Fire IV (2016)

Brin designed the game Tribes, published in 1998 by Steve Jackson Games. Brin wrote the storyline for the 2000 Dreamcast/PlayStation 2 video game Ecco the Dolphin: Defender of the Future.

Concerns and themes of his work

Many of Brin's works not set into preexisting series or universes focus on the impact on human society of technology humankind develops for itself, a theme which commonly appears in contemporary North American science-fiction. This is most noticeable in The Practice Effect, Glory Season and Kiln People.

Brin's Jewish heritage is the source of two other strong themes in his works. Tikkun Olam ("repairing the world", i.e. people have a duty to make the world a better place) is originally a religious concept, but Brin, like many non-orthodox Jews, has adapted this into a secular notion of working to improve the human condition, to increase knowledge, and to prevent long-term evils. Brin has confirmed that this notion in part underscores the notion of humans as "caretakers" of sentient-species-yet-to-be, as he explains in a concluding note at the end of Startide Rising; and it plays a key role in The Uplift War, where the Thennanin are converted from enemies to allies of the Terragens (humans and other sapients that originated on Earth) when they realize that making the world a better place and being good care-takers are core values of both civilizations. Many of Brin's novels emphasize another element of Jewish tradition, the importance of laws and legality, whether intergalactic law in the Uplift series or that of near-future California in Kiln People but, on the other hand, Brin has stated that "Truly mature citizens ought not to need an intricate wrapping of laws and regulations, in order to do what common sense dictates as good for all".


  • The Transparent Society: Will Technology Force Us to Choose Between Privacy and Freedom? (1998) ISBN 0-7382-0144-8 - won the Freedom of Speech Award of the American Library Association
  • Star Wars on Trial: Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Debate the Most Popular Science Fiction Films of All Time (2006) ISBN 1-932100-89-X
  • Articles in professional journals, including The Astrophysical Journal and Information Technology and Libraries, as well as popular magazines, such as Omni, Nature, and Popular Science.
  • Extraterrestrial Civilization by Thomas Kuiper and Glen David Brin, (1989) ISBN 0917853385

Personal life

Brin currently lives in San Diego, California with his wife and children. He has Polish Jewish ancestry, from the area around Konin. His grandfather was drafted into the Russian army and fought in the Russian-Japanese War of 1905.


External links

  • Official website
  • David Brin's blog, Contrary Brin
  • David Brin on IMDb
  • David Brin at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database
  • David Brin at the Internet Book List
  • David Brin Papers, MS 179 (12.75 linear feet). Special Collections & Archives: University of California, Riverside Libraries. OCLC 789282018.
  • David Brin at Library of Congress Authorities, with 28 catalog records
  • Critical Resources :: David Brin
  • Interview with David Brin at
  • Interview with David Brin at
  • All of David Brin's audio interviews on the podcast The Future And You, in which he describes his expectations of the future
  • Metareview, Kiln/Kil'n People
  • Video of conversation between David Brin and James Pinkerton on
  • David Brin and Sheldon Brown on "Third Millennium Problem Solving" at Google. on YouTube
  • Alliance for Progress Encyclopedia, encyclopedia of David Brin's Uplift Universe

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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