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3.77  ·  Rating Details ·  1,389 Ratings  ·  38 Reviews
From multiple award-winning author David Brin comes this extraordinary collection of tales and essays of the near and distant future, as humans and aliens encounter the secrets of the cosmos--and of their own existence. In "Dr. Pak's Preschool" a woman discovers that her baby has been called upon to work while still in the womb. In "NatuLife" a married couple finds their r ...more
Paperback, 357 pages
Published December 23rd 2009 by Bantam Spectra (first published 1994)
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A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor VingeSnow Crash by Neal StephensonRed Mars by Kim Stanley RobinsonThe Fall of Hyperion by Dan SimmonsThe Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson
Classic Science Fiction - 1990-1999
80th out of 212 books — 102 voters
The Martian Chronicles by Ray BradburyMirrorshades by Bruce SterlingDangerous Visions by Harlan EllisonThe Science Fiction Hall of Fame by Robert SilverbergBurning Chrome by William Gibson
Best SciFi Anthologies/Collections
308th out of 348 books — 177 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,273)
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Nov 26, 2015 David rated it liked it
Really 3.5 stars. This collection contains a mix of short stories, medium to long stories, and essays/lectures. Brin's writing is always interesting and intelligent; however, it seemed that the longer he story was, the less enjoyable and more convoluted it became.
Feb 13, 2016 Shel rated it liked it
I really liked some of the stories, some didn't grab me at all. The story notes where Brin wrote about his inspiration/process were interesting, but I found his essays boring and mostly just skimmed them.
I have been digesting this pleasant miscellany by science fiction writer David Brin at a slow pace, and have found the experience (my first encounter with Brin) highly enjoyable.

Otherness is a miscellany in that it mixes short stories (13), along with story notes (3 texts), and essays (5) in a fine collection of interesting ideas. It is divided into five parts: Transitions, Contact, Continuity, Cosmos, and Otherness, all representing basic ideas around which the texts in each part circles.

For me
Benjamin Atkinson
A truly awesome achievement. David Brin is a speculative/hard sf author who is definitely a futurist. Otherness is very, very deep and I have read it several times. It has a theme of how humanity deals with differences between our various cultures and belief systems. It also interweaves the exponential assault of technology and how that has forced Mobius band or Klein bottle type manifestations ONTO HUMAN NATURE. The beauty of this set of short stories and essays is how important his message is ...more
John Loyd
Apr 07, 2015 John Loyd rated it really liked it
Otherness (1994) - collection of short stories by David Brin

I have so many magazines, Analog, Asimov, F&SF, etc. filled with short stories that I try not to pick up anthologies. I bypassed this one at the used book store several times, but I went online and bought a few used books. Oh, well.

The stories in this collection are quite good, so it wasn't a waste. Some first contact stories, a UFO story. The theme of overpopulation is brought up more than once. Different characters in every story,
Dec 13, 2013 Dustin rated it really liked it
Nice collection, this. Some good stories, a few great stories, and a couple of thought-provoking essays that I wasn't expecting.
Mar 03, 2014 Shawn rated it it was ok
I normally enjoy David Brin. His ideas are pretty good. I do enjoy him when he speaks. But this book..well....It just bored me. Short scifi stories need to be able to grab you fast, get you into the characters then maybe give the reader a bit of a twist or leave you awestruck at the end. Hopefully leaving you in deep contemplation. Not one story in this book did any of that for me. They all ended with out my even caring about what just happened. The only thing I found entertaining were the lectu ...more
Kent Say
Sep 24, 2016 Kent Say rated it really liked it
Shelves: sfi
4.5 rounded down... recomended. I really enjoyed a number of the short stories (particularly the first couple which I though were great). I really enjoyed the essays between the stories. I thought the tie in to the theme was cool and well done. Some of them didn't do much for me. I haven't read that much short form sci in awhile and this book made me crave for more.
Mar 06, 2010 Raj rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, short-stories
This is an excellent collection of short stories and essays by Brin. The stories don't really have much of a theme, but the essays all touch on Brin's theme of 'otherness': a valuing of diversity and change.

The essays are good, but the stories are uniformly excellent. In particular, Dr Pak's Preschool left a lingering sense of unease after it, and is certainly not one that I'll forget any time soon. Those Eyes (an alternative explanation for UFOs) and The Warm Space (biological and artificial in
Connie Garvie
Thought Provoking Read

This book is a mix of entertaining short stories and deeply philosophical essays. It is not a book too put down after reading and forget. This book invites you to think and to examine those thoughts, comparing them to the author's insight.

A book well worth reading again and again!
Aug 05, 2016 Ashley rated it liked it
The short stories were unique and quick to read. However, the essays I did not care to read, they failed to hook my attention. Ended up skipping almost all of the essays to enjoy the stories.
Feb 02, 2016 Heather rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-i-own
This made me think. Stories and essays by Brin about the future, aliens, biology, and us. What you expect from Brin; Very Good.
Effy Mathews
Jun 03, 2016 Effy Mathews marked it as to-read
To read as recommended by Reddit's " What's the most unethical experiment that you would like to know the outcome of?"
Lee Belbin
Dec 01, 2014 Lee Belbin rated it liked it
Very well written and provocative short stories in the main. Some well thought through ideas put into SF context
Aug 26, 2016 Charl rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
I love Brin's writing, and this collection includes some of his essays, giving an interesting look into his mind.
Mar 22, 2014 Jim rated it really liked it
A very good book of SF short-stories with a couple essays thrown in for good measure. There was only one story I was luke-warm towards, and my only complaint was that it wasn't always obvious when an essay was an essay and when a story was a story. Labeling them as such would have been nice.

Given that's all I can really find to complain about, if you like the author, if you like real SF (as opposed to fantasy SF), then you should like these stories. I would guess.
Michael Lionhart
Sep 11, 2016 Michael Lionhart rated it really liked it
In "Otherness", astrophysicist David Brin weaves hard sci-fi short stories about birth, altruism, the cosmos with essays about the nature of reality and the human race. Strong collection of ideas and a very good work of hard sci-fi.
Stewart Tame
Nov 09, 2013 Stewart Tame rated it liked it
Decent anthology. As I've found with Brin's novels, these stories and essays are kind of hit-or-miss. Some of them--particularly the final essay--I like very much. But the rest of the book, while there's nothing I actually hate, just doesn't do much for me. I wish I had a clue what it is that puts me off some of his work because then I could share it and be all insightful and critic-y. I'll probably read more David Brin in the future, but I'm definitely not in a hurry to do so.
Sep 06, 2016 Jenise rated it really liked it
Read more by this guy, especially anthology he starts off. Thoroughly enjoyed all these short stories.
Apr 13, 2011 Paul rated it it was amazing
Imagine a room, where Science Fiction is introduced to the Weird Sisters; Philosophy and Anthropology; and shakes them warmly by the throat. Its like reading John Pilger or Jonathon Swift, a mirror to society revealing the distortions inherent in virtually every other lens. The "Dogma of Otherness" has changed my perception of the world within which I live more than anything else I have read.
Oct 25, 2009 Broodingferret rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
I've never read any of Brin's stuff before, but I think I'm going to put a few of his things on my list. He has a knack for presenting social commentary and analysis as enjoyable fiction. And I must say that I find his insights into our own Liberal-Western paradigm quite amusing and right on the money.
Mar 28, 2013 Leporidae rated it really liked it
A really great collection of short stories and mini-essays on the topic of tomorrows. Contained a disproportionate (for a sci-fi collection) number of tales regarding pregnancy and motherhood, yet all of them took on a different point of view concerning the condition and its implications.
Nov 11, 2011 Mel rated it liked it
The notes by the author in large chunks between the short stories was a bit of a turnoff. For some I could see this as being really, very interesting as he has a discourse about what had him write the stories you are about to read, but it takes up at least 1/3 of the book.
Jun 08, 2010 Andrew rated it it was amazing
A great short story collection from a great author. I've always found his ideas to be compelling, but this book took that up a notch. Masterful storytelling combines with mind bending ideas and insightful essays in a way that kept me reading long past bed time.
Apr 25, 2009 Hoby rated it liked it
Pretty good for most of it.. the open commentary stories lacked eloquence and his obsession with tying childbirth to just about everything was a little much - but overall it was some okay delving into human situational twists and physics theories.
Miramira Endevall
Sep 09, 2011 Miramira Endevall rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
I had never heard of this author until I was perusing the bookswap and read this book's description. I loved how smart these stories are, and I'll be looking for more of Brin's works in future.
Sep 02, 2013 Maribeth rated it liked it
I usually prefer short stories, but these were too technical and lacking character development. I really found them sterile and inaccessible.
Kae Cheatham
Feb 25, 2011 Kae Cheatham rated it liked it
Interesting concepts. Surprising that even though Brin uses Asian characters regularly, his philosophies are quite "Western." Intentional?
Aug 27, 2011 Shane rated it really liked it
Over all a good collection of short stories, but the reason I gave it 4 stars was "The Giving Plague." I thought that one was great.
Dec 20, 2012 Lsilberman rated it it was amazing
Sci Fi anthology, with essays intermingled. The Warm Space is my favorite short story. Nice surprise ending.
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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
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“The conflict is an old one. George Washington and other followers of the Enlightenment Movement wrote of their belief in an imminent maturity of humankind. The ancient and cruel feudal ways were splitting asunder at last; therefore, how could truth and freedom not prevail? In fact, the Enlightenment changed humanity forever. Yet its followers forgot something important -- that each generation is invaded by a new wave of barbarians... its children. Just as Washington, Franklin, and their peers took joy in toppling the tyranny of Church and King, so the youths of the Romantic Movement thrived on jeering the lofty ideals of their predecessors.” 1 likes
“new astronomy also had to adjust to the idea that what their senses told them everyday was untrue – that the world did not revolve around them alone.” 0 likes
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