Thursday, September 11, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Earth (1990)

Earth by David Brin is a brilliant sci-fi novel with powerful messages about the environment, humanity, technology, philosophies, cultures, and the evolution of consciousness. The novel's many characters are strongly developed, the main plot is tense and compelling, and the author's world building got a lot of things right about current trends in tech and attitudes toward its uses, such as wearable tech (think Google Glass) and privacy issues. Considering that Brin wrote this in 1990, when the cassette-based Walkman was the pinnacle of portable gadgets, it's pretty mind-blowing.

The story revolves around an artificially created black hole that is accidentally released into the earth's core. As its creator, a young British scientist, frantically tries to recover it with the help of his mentor's connections in New Zealand, an astronaut captain is pulled into the secret project as it becomes clear that her estranged husband was somehow involved. Meanwhile, an indefatigable Nobel winner ponders questions of survival and evolution; a wealthy ultra-environmentalist searches the Web in her ruthless quest to solve human overpopulation; an engineer struggles to explain increasingly frightening gravitational phenomena; three young boys struggle with growing up in a world brimming with eco-refugees and brain mapping in schools; and all the while, the singularity being pursued is overshadowed by an even more ominous threat.

Earth is an epic,  and well worth the read for its accessible prose, intelligent characters, and impressive insight into the future. Every chapter begins with a beautiful description of a cosmic event, before readers are pulled into individuals lives and actions on a small blue planet.

My only beef is the ending, after a reveal that left some readers grumbling about a deus ex machina. I thought it was an interesting concept, but it took away from the very focused buildup of the story. Or maybe it enhanced the thematic impact of the narrative by moving beyond its eponymous setting? Well, YMMV.

TL; DR: A nerd's delight. Highly recommended.

This post brought to you by Mama's cooking! Today it's nilagang baka with tons of veggies!