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3.78  ·  Rating details ·  1,594 ratings  ·  48 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 ...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published December 23rd 2009 by Bantam Spectra (first published 1994)
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3.78  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,594 ratings  ·  48 reviews

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Jan 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: scifi, anthology
Interesting mix of short stories and essays all aligned to the central theme of Otherness.
Peter Tillman
Short stories + essays. A/A+. Has the classic story of educating an AI by bringing it up as your child, which has.... drawbacks. Brin at his best, reread sometime.
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
Sep 12, 2015 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.
Jan 28, 2016 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.
Dec 05, 2013 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.
Aug 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction-2019
4.0 Stars
I really liked this one. Very much a throwback to the "golden" age of sci-fi: Focus on big ideas executed against a large canvass. The collection is peppered with some articles and speeches by David Brin that are maybe a little dated (and maybe a tad bit too optimistic for someone reading 20 years after the fact) but gives the reader a ton of interesting ideas and theories to munch on.

Overall, this collection raised my view of David Brin a good deal, seeing that he has a lot more to off
Rob Markley
Mar 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi
An excellent set of Brin short stories and essays. Always something thoughtful and worthwhile to say
Apr 03, 2018 rated it liked it
Maybe I've just read more recent works that are retreads of these ideas, but very few of these stories surprised me or made be contemplate things I hadn't thought of before. The writing was good, but I usually read sci-fi to be provoked, and this didn't do much of that.
Chris Halverson
May 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
A good read with a wide variety of stories. I did notice there was a theme of pregnancy throughout, I wonder what that was about.
Mar 03, 2018 rated it liked it
I liked the little story notes in-between and most of the stories, excited to read more from Brin.
Mar 02, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was ok

But I m a little full of DAvid Brian now that I m finished. No desire to buy the next David Brian anything
Aug 05, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
1 star. ...more
Daniel Johnson
Sep 11, 2019 rated it liked it
Science fiction and philosophy together? I was in. I wanted to rate this 4.5, but a few stories dragged on or just had sexual content I was not interested in.
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
Mar 06, 2010 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
John Loyd
Apr 07, 2015 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,
Feb 18, 2014 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
Stewart Tame
Jul 04, 2013 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.
Feb 09, 2014 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.
Kent Say
Sep 24, 2016 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.
Apr 13, 2011 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 08, 2009 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.
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!
Nov 08, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: modern-scifi
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.
Mar 16, 2009 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.
Feb 25, 2013 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.
Apr 30, 2010 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.
Feb 02, 2016 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.
Aug 30, 2013 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.
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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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“Science gives man what he needs, but magic gives man what he wants.” 1 likes
“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
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