The Practice Effect
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The Practice Effect

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3.69 of 5 stars 3.69  ·  rating details  ·  1,896 ratings  ·  90 reviews
Dennis Nuel is a physicist who, during his research, develops a machine that allows him to explore alternate realities, each of which sport some very strange scientific properties.
Paperback, 277 pages
Published January 1st 1995 by Spectra (first published 1984)
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Rallorien
I have absolutely loved this book since I first read it at least a good 10 years ago (not entirely sure of the year). I loved the way it made me think about things and how a simple (or not so simple) rule change made everything so different. Was the actual plot the strongest? No. But it was an enjoyable, fun read and it forcing me to think has stayed with me and made this one of my most favorite sci-fi books ever. After reading it, I kept thinking of more and more ideas that could work in that u...more
Jim
Well, this is one of the most ridiculous premises I've ever seen for a science fiction book. If it were a fantasy book, Brin could explain all this in some mystical way and get away with it.

If this were the first book I'd read by Brin, I'd have given up without finishing it. Instead I'm merely disappointed that I've wasted my time. Oh, there are some mildly clever bits, but they're outweighed by the silly premise. And his "scientific" explanation at the end is wholly unsatisfying.



Jacob
I Absolutely Loved this book being a fan of Si-fi books and movies I thought the book was Extraordinarily well written (that coming from a 21st century child who has grown up around technology)
Cathy
It started off feeling a lot like John Carter from A Princess of Mars meets A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. By the end I added a good dose of the movie Speed to the mix. That pretty much sums it up. Except for one thing that made it exceptional - the practice effect. I love when an author comes up with a really original idea that would deeply influence how things turned out in the world and follows it through. It turned a really basic and frequently used idea, that of the modern man...more
Terry
Jun 01, 2013 Terry rated it 5 of 5 stars Recommends it for: Romantics who read fantasy and Sci-Fi
I have read this book every year since it first came out in paperback. Many of those reviewing this book here have not quite cottoned to the fact that it is indeed a Fantasy book and not Science Fiction. I enjoyed this fantasy for what it was and not for what it wasn't, which is to say, Science Fiction.

As a practicing musician I also am intrigued by the premise of practice changing something other than the practicer. So reversing entropy is not a deal breaker for me. I wish I could practice my...more
Adam Penny
This is one of my favourite fantasy/sci-fi books ever. The fundamental premise is basically that man has managed to alter one of the physical laws of the universe and the change proposed does amount to magic. Having said that, as Arthur C Clarke pointed out, any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. Within the context of that, Brin makes a convincing extrapolation of how society would develop and operate within the context of that change with the added twist of how so...more
Meh
Heh, this book was pleasantly ridiculous. It had such a weird premise that everything that happened was almost a surprise. And I just had to laugh every time they go into a trance and practice up some primitive thing into something crazy, like an airplane. Yes, the plot and characters were so predictable, but still, it's a nice bit of fluff.
Sarah Sammis
One of my favorite alternate world books.
Mike
Later on in his career, Brin will learn how to fashion together a plot, to make characters that have depth and to understand how to blend science in with a believable world. This novel was written in 1984 and does not have any of those elements.

There is one intriguing plot twist and I will reveal it right here: What happens if we reverse the Second Law of Thermodynamics? This book is a lame attempt at trying to explain what would take place if nothing falls apart but actually improves over time...more
Tim Lewis
Read the review on my blog: Tim's Book Reviews

Premise: The zievatron is a device that can access parallel worlds, and physicist Dennis Nuel has been locked out of the Zievatron Project by his rival, Bernald Brady. However, when the return mechanism ends up malfunctioning, Dennis is tapped as the only one who can fix it. The only problem is that he must go through to the other world to do so. With him will come the “pixolet”, a flying pixie-like creature that slipped in from the other world.

In se...more
Kate Lansky
The Practice Effect is a pseudo-sci-fi, maybe a bit more of a fantasy book, about a scientist who travels to a foreign land where the laws of physics are ever so slightly different than they are on earth. We follow Dennis, our scientist, as he tries to make his way in this new and crazy world, often landing in a lot of trouble. Look, it's really hard to describe this book without giving anything away, considering that Dennis himself takes a large chunk of the book to figure out exactly how this...more
Christopher Murphy
This delicious and delectable work is constructed of a somewhat cheesy slice of the style of Michael Crichton's "Timeline", along with a meaty slab of the adventuring feel and odd technological wonderment of Robert Heinlein's classic "Glory Road", and a thin and leafy addition of generic fantasy world-making to (ahem) grease the wheels, as it were; all sandwiched between two hulking crusts of David Brin bread which serve to hold this wonderful idea of a story together. Bon appetite.

In the typica...more
Christopher
I read the Practice Effect before I knew who David Brin was, and when I started reading David Brin I never made the connection that he was the guy who wrote the Practice Effect. In other words, it doesn't really read like a lot of the rest of Brin's work, and if you pick it up expecting it to you're going to be disappointed. That said, it's a marvelously fun story. If you expect your science fiction to be based on fundamentally sound, provable physics you should give this book a pass. (That said...more
Ана Хелс
Една учудващо свежа и изпълнена с приятен хумор и авантюристичен дух книжка, на ръба между научния сай-фай и приятното инопланетянско фентъзи, с любимата ми формула за забавния симпатичен млад учен, попаднал в алтернативно феодално общество, което вярва и ползва изключително особен тип магия, намирайки любовта, надраствайки цивилизационните си ограничения, и което е най-важно – изоставяйки всичко минало и реално, и падайки с плонж в обятията на добрите фентъзийни времена, дори и с малко алтернат...more
Mark
Feb 07, 2008 Mark rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: sf
A scientist enters an alternate dimension, very like Earth except that objects can be made better by practice. (Is that a spoiler? But it's the title of the book, how could it be a spoiler?) Consequently people never improved at making things, because they can improve things by using them. The hero uses his knowledge of making things to overcome difficulties. He wins the war and gets the girl. (Surely that isn't a spoiler either.)

This is one of Brin's first books. The writing is average and the...more
Matthew
Contains minor spoilers

While this book may not be hard science-fiction, I think that a lot of people have underestimated it. If you read it more as a fantasy novel, without expectations of technological or scientific marvels, then you won't be disappointed. It's random, quick, and fun. A Wizard falls in love with a beautiful princess whom he must save from a scheming despot...but all along the way, there is the lingering mystery of the "practice" effect. I found this quite intriguing, and althou...more
Elizabeth
Scientist Dennis Nuel has not only discovered a new world, but become trapped in it. Thanks to some mechanical malfunctions and a highly dysfunctional political system, Dennis becomes embroiled in feud between an evil Baron and those loyal to the King. While this would be adventure enough, this world does not follow the same laws of science as Earth, and one difference -- the so-called Practice Effect -- means that Dennis has to rethink his efforts to evade capture, save a kidnapped princess, an...more
Remo
Es una novela juvenil de aventuras, con un planteamiento que me gustó. Nuestro protagonista, doctor en Física (¡ay, algún día!) se ve transportado en un experimento a un mundo alternativo donde una de las leyes de la termodinámica está levemente trastocada. Tendrá que sobrevivir en un mundo diferente, en el que hay multitud de cosas chocantes. La novela cuenta con todos los elementos clásicos de una novela ligera de aventuras: el Chico, la Chica, el Secundario Cómico, el MaloMaloMalo, el Pueblo...more
Ian
I read this probably when I was in High school so its been over 3 decade since I last picked this up. When I read it the first time, I thought the science was good and the plot interesting. I had not read any of David Brin's other works.

Now 3 decades later, after reading most of Brin's works, I picked it up and reread it again. It wasn't what I was expecting. Compared to his other works, this is flighty, quirky and humorous. So not what I remembered but also not what I was expecting so I was ple...more
Chris Middelveen
This book is ingenious!

imagine: a world like ours, but far different. one where instead of things getting more deteriorated when used, they instead get BETTER! GENIUS!
This story is funny, thought provoling, adventurous and there's even some romance tucked in there!!
Selene
¡Me encanta este libro! Es una lectura muy amena, y está lleno de aventuras con un toque de humor.
El profesor Dennis Nuel, es transportado a un mundo que parece estar todavía en su época medieval, y donde es confundido con un mago debido a sus conocimientos. Así Dennis se verá envuelto en una aventura tras otra, donde hay princesas secuestradas por el villano de turno, planes malvados para hacerse con un reino, y por supuesto contará con fieles ayudantes, entre ellos un robot y una curiosa criat...more
Stephen Dorneman
One interesting idea carried to its extreme as a deus ex machina, plus wooden characters, leaps of illogic, and some laughable anachronisms make this book a pass. Some fun action gets it up to two stars, but I expected better from David Brin, author of the wonderful Uplift War books.
Ján Kravárik
Nice book. I was really in there. Could be a little more sophisticated, though. Very nice and lively!
Merredith
This was a fun little book with a very interesting concept… a physicist goes through a gate he helped build, but was broken, to fix it. He is in another world, but he doesn’t know where or when. He quickly learns that this world operates on the "practice effect" which means that objects get better with use. It's very interesting to think about how such a rule of physics could alter a whole society, from an anthropological, scientific, artistic, etc point of view. Just a really interesting concep...more
Cassie
I enjoyed reading this, but sometimes it seemed to drag a little. I think it's because I don't prefer "olden times" settings. I liked the premise, and I found the protagonist endearing. But the ending was just bunk to me. The actual end to the story was followed by an explanation of the history behind the world, and both made me wonder what the point of them was, especially since the history was not integrated at all in the story. But, the end aside, I thought the book was an enjoyable read with...more
Ashley
Apr 06, 2010 Ashley rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: own
This is probably the first SciFi story, definitely the first adult SciFi story I remember reading and enjoying. It was such an interesting idea for a story. I really want to go back and reread it because there are parts I don't remember, but even still, I remember it very fondly. Such a great idea. They say that practice makes perfect, so why shouldn't that transfer to obejcts as well? How interesting would that be?! I really like the world that David Brin created here, and would love to not onl...more
August Williams
SO MANY MIXED FEELINGS. So, this book started out with an intriguing nugget of an idea, I'm guessing, and it was refined into something that...well, that fell flat. Brin's style was uncomfortably uneven, from his word choice and tone to his use of perspective (sometimes it was only in Dennis's head, sometimes it was in everyone's head). I did read through it, though, because I wanted to solve the mystery. Turns out the mystery was BO-RING. I wasn't impressed. To sum: not worth the read, but I ha...more
Sharon Reddy
This is my favorite book. It feels odd to make that statement, but there is no other book that has been replaced immediately, if it's loaned and not returned or pages begin to fall out. My entire family loves it. When my twenty-two-year-old granddaughter was here visiting, she asked my twelve-year-old grandson if he'd read it yet. His sixteen-year-old brother said, "You're od enough to read it now1"

The concept of a physicist entering an alternate world, where entropy is reversed is unique and Br...more
Audrey
Dennis Nuel, zievatronics expert, has figured out how to travel to other dimensions. When a prank from his rival strands him in a strange world where caveman-primitive tools exist alongside unimaginably sophisticated technology, he must unravel the mystery in order to return home. In doing so, he will have to save the life of a princess and overthrow a corrupt leader. Fun, fast-paced, and with several interesting twists. Lacking in heavy-duty philosophy a la The Postman, this is pure candy for t...more
Helen
It's all to do with a subtle change in the laws of Thermodynamics. But you'll have to read it to find out. But Dennis's adventures in a new, undiscovered alien world where things aren't quite what they seem is a great adventure romp. Plus, the hero is a physicist! <=> +1 in rating! And I now know where my centroid is, heh :D

I have read this book every year I've ever sat an exam and wondered if I'll ever pass. But it always makes me feel I can, as "practice makes perfect".
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14078
David Brin is a scientist, speaker, and world-known author. His novels have been New York Times Bestsellers, winning multiple Hugo, Nebula and other awards. At least a dozen have been translated into more than twenty languages.

Existence, his latest novel, offers an unusual scenario for first contact. His ecological thriller, Earth, foreshadowed global warming, cyberwarfare and near-future trends...more
More about David Brin...
Startide Rising (The Uplift Saga, #2) The Postman The Uplift War (The Uplift Saga, #3) Sundiver (The Uplift Saga, #1) Foundation's Triumph (Second Foundation Trilogy, #3)

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