The Postman (1985) by David Brin

ThePostman1There’s something mythical about the persistence of the U.S. postal service which even still manages to carry on alongside the ever-expanding models of privatized shipping, especially in this age of digital communications and industrial shipping accounts. Even C.M. Kornbluth satirized those uncanny postal promises to weather any misery, his mail girl’s bureaucratic duty surviving without a hiccup during the Soviet occupation of the U.S. in his Cold War satire Not This August (1955). I assume Terry Pratchett beat the joke to death in Going Postal (2004). David Brin also exercises this confidence in the power of postal bureaucracy, imaginary though it may be, in his post-apocalyptic, Earth Abides-tribute, The Postman (1985), in which a post-civ loner, Gordon, stumbles upon a wrecked mail truck in the spring of nuclear winter and adopts the persona of a mail carrier to make favor with budding, hair-trigger communities of the ruined western United States.

It’s actually a humorous premise, this dystopian Johnny Appleseed of mail, and probably one that would be more successful in the hands of a deft SF satirist. Continue reading

Brightness Reef (1995) by David Brin

BrightessReef1Huck shrugged two stalks, as if to say she couldn’t be bothered with petty legalistic details. (62)

Set within his Uplift Universe crowded with sapient species, Brin abandons the Earthling-dominated dolphin-chimp-human narrative for something less familiar and (slightly) more alien. Like Startide Rising (1983), it still feels youthful, even childish, which makes it hard to take seriously at times, and when it does get serious, sometimes the dump of moral entanglements and plot movements musses up what could be a fresh little tale.

I felt a twirl in my heart-spine. (94)

Continue reading

Kiln People (2002) by David Brin

KilnPeople1Also known as Kil’n People, which is why I didn’t expect a book about clay people. I thought it was going to be about some imaginary tribal culture. Maybe from space. But, no. It’s about clay people. That you make in kilns. Kiln clones. ALSO KNOWN AS GOLEMS.

In case you’re just joining me in my reading saga, I just read a book with 229 mentions of the word golem. I’m a bit golemed out.

“Golemetry is an interruption,” I read somewhere once. Continue reading

Glory Season (1993) by David Brin

GlorySeason(1stEd)After enjoying David Brin’s Hugo- and Nebula-winning novel Startide Rising (1983), I wanted to sample more of his catalog, but perhaps without the talking animals that so easily characterized his novel as juvenile. With Glory Season, the juvenile label still applies, yet, like Startide, the content is engaging, critical, and deeply speculative. (And the lack of talking animals helps, too.) Continue reading

Startide Rising (1983) by David Brin

StartideRising(1stEd)An aircraft crashes on an unknown deserted land, where danger and mystery lurk in every shadow. The survivors are tested by their surroundings, their enemies, and each other as intrigue and drama unfold. Disagreements over strategy split the group, and one faction plots betrayal and murder to gain control of their fate. Meanwhile, unexplainable events suggest that their crash site isn’t exactly uninhabited, and some survivors risk their lives to discover the truth about this mysterious land’s history. As relationships among the characters evolve, the pasts of the more complex characters are revealed through flashbacks.

Sounds a lot like that TV show, Lost, right?

But did I mention that the crash survivors are sapient, talking, spacefaring dolphins? (And one obsessive chimpanzee geologist with mild Asperger’s syndrome?) Continue reading