Book: Sundiver - Livre d'Or








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livredor
Book: Sundiver
Thursday, 19 October 2006 at 03:54 pm
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Author: David Brin

Details: (c) 1980 David Brin; Pub Orbit 1996; ISBN 1-85723-370-0

Verdict: Sundiver has some cute ideas but is badly written.

Reasons for reading it: neonchameleon recommended it to me absolutely ages ago, and I didn't find it for a while and then didn't get round to reading it cos I was kept very busy with lethargic_man and rysmiel's books.

How it came into my hands: Dundee charity shops.

I have to leave in ten minutes, but I don't really want to waste many words on Sundiver anyway. It's a perfect embodiment of why lots of people hate "hard" science fiction. The characterization sucks and there is way too much exposition (Brin's author bio makes a great point about how he really does know physics, but the extended physics lectures are so boring I couldn't be bothered to check them for plausibility and there's a fair bit of handwaving technobabble at the best of times). There's violence and space exploration and a fair amount of intergalactic politics, but not much to make the reader care about any of them. The human relationships and emotions are overdescribed and one-dimensional even when the narration spells out exactly why each character reacts in a particular way. The poetic and mystical bits are just cringingly awful. Oh, and Brin appears to have far more empathy for weird aliens than human women.

Merits? It's accessible and dramatic, and would probably make a good script for a trashy film. And I really like the set-up of a few years after First Contact where humans appear to be an anomaly in a universe where the other sentient races are all connected to eachother. I also like the idea of a voyage into the sun and encounter with sun-dwelling beings, it's certainly imaginative.

I wouldn't burn it; it's the kind of thing that might be appreciated by a reading-reluctant teenaged boy who found Harry Potter too girly. It most certainly didn't inspire me to read the multiple sequels, though. What am I missing here, neonchameleon?


Whereaboooots: The sun
Moooood: irritatedirritated
Tuuuuune: The Pipettes: Pull shapes
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From:curious_reader
Date:October 19th, 2006 02:52 pm (UTC)
41 minutes after journal entry
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I am completely taken in by the book "Memoir of a Geisha". It is getting more and more exciting. You never know what is going to happen next with her. I have just 100 pages to read now. It is quite thick book. It is like watching a very moving film but with more emotions. I can feel with her and understand what she was going through. I am normally not that facinated and want to keep reading. I only borrowed the book but really recommend it.
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synergetic: default
From:synergetic
Date:October 19th, 2006 03:05 pm (UTC)
54 minutes after journal entry
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I think I agree with you in most of what you have said, although I personally found the ideas and the set up good enough to outweigh the bad writing style and lack of characterisation.

I do believe the sequels are much better than Sundiver and still might be worth reading: Despite being sequels they do not follow the same characters or situations ad basically explore the interesting setting and his characterisation definitely gets better. Whether that would balance out the books to a better extent for you to enjoy them I don't know.

It occured to me that you might just want to jack them all in and read Glory Season. It is about a society that genetically re-engineers itself so that the dominant form of reproduction is female cloning with an element of standard reproduction to maintain genetic diversity. I can't help thinking that in terms of sci-fi, it would gell quite nicely with some of your interests. At least, it would be interesting to see what you say about it.
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From:curious_reader
Date:October 19th, 2006 03:18 pm (UTC)
1 hours after journal entry
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Why can they only clone females? Are males so difficult to clone?

I would like to clone a male person. (Just kidding!)
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From:neonchameleon
Date:October 19th, 2006 03:14 pm (UTC)
1 hours after journal entry
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What am I missing here, neonchameleon?

Not a lot. It's a tolerable first novel - but not a book I have ever considered rereading. (And I wouldn't have bothered with the rest if I'd started there). I'm sure that I recommended the author rather than the book.
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cartesiandaemon: default
From:cartesiandaemon
Date:October 19th, 2006 03:52 pm (UTC)
1 hours after journal entry
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I read this ages ago at school, I could tell from the cover it was supposed to be famous but was a bit second string. I thought it was interesting, but didn't engage that far either. People have medium-warmly recommended me sequels since, but I haven't got round to them.

Your point about hard science fiction is good. I think I liked the universe, didn't believe you could make a mirror that good, wasn't that fascinated by the plot, and can't remember the characters (I don't remember that they were especially bad, but I wouldn't have).

I'm just debating the sentence "It's a perfect embodiment of why lots of people hate 'hard' science fiction." :) I guess there's two ways of looking: "hard scifi isn't interesting because it doesn't do characters etc often" or "hard scifi is bad because it tries to do characters and fails". Though if I agree with your impressions, I can't argue this embodies them :)

In other words, maybe we should breed Rowling with Brin :) We'd get books that have an exciting and consistent universe and exciting and consistent plot and pleasent, evocative, but stereotyped characters ;)
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pir_anha: default
From:pir_anha
Date:October 19th, 2006 10:36 pm (UTC)
8 hours after journal entry, 02:36 pm (pir_anha's time)

Re: Book:Sundiver

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Oh, and Brin appears to have far more empathy for weird aliens than human women.

*heh*. *hehehehhehehehehehehe*! *way-past-snarky comment withheld*.

i gotta say, i liked the sequels better, and i am sorta glad i wasn't sufficiently discouraged by this one from reading them (i have somewhat more tolerance for the typical shortcomings of hard SF than you do, i think).

but that's not a wholehearted recommendation either. i am ok with brin as a maturing writer, but i don't rush right out and get his books as soon as they're published. i read them when i see one pop up in a used bookstore.
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