fbpx Skip to content

Earth’s Gravity, But Not the Kind You Think

If you’re not already familiar with Earth, by David Brin, then in a weird way, I envy you. You have got some great science fiction to discover. Brin has a PhD in astrophysics and has worked for NASA, in addition to writing multiple Nebula- and Hugo-award winning books. IMHO, unlike a lot of ?hard? science fiction, Brin’s books are easy to read – they have great pacing, interesting stories, and believable,fully-fleshed characters.

If you have read his work, then you won?t be surprised to know that his novels have had quite an impact on my own work, and indeed, on the course of my life.

Earth (the book, not the planet)

cover art for david brin's EARTH

Bantam published Earth in 1990, and it was nominated for a Hugo and a Locus award. It is an ambitious novel, set about 50 years in the future at the time of writing. (So not too far from now.) The plot is about how an experimental artificial black hole gets loose, and starts to eat Earth from the inside, atom by atom. The large cast of characters enables Brin to highlight the myriad of ways in which the human species is putting its home and itself at risk: overpopulation,global warming and extinction are just some of the issues that he not only cautions us about, but as time has gone on, he has predicted!

A futurist with an impressive record

In fact, Brin is one of the best forecasters of what the short-term future may hold. Here?s a partial list of the things he nailed, and just in this book:

The web: he foresaw how it would become our primary source of news, the advent of video,and blogging. He also predicted something that didn?t happen, but I sure wish it had: micropayments for content generators. He also saw how our privacy might start to be eroded by this technology and others.

He nailed global warming, sea level rise, increased storms. He prophesied the levee breaks on the Mississippi.

He predicted augmented reality, and I believe he may even still have the patent for some of those technologies. He also guessed we would have eyeglass cameras,overlays on reality, and subvocal inputs for digital devices.

I could go on.

How it influenced me

But it was his predictions about the web that had such a huge impact on my life. I read Earth the year it came out.  In a few more years the web actually arrived; I was working my first marketing communications job. Because I’d read the novel, I understood how important the web was going to be. I convinced my boss that she should let me build a website, “because everyone is going to have one.” (A prediction I nailed, though it’s not nearly as impressive a prognostication as Brin’s.) I got into front-end development, web design, really early.

And that is why I got into teaching. The year was 2000, and the Faculty of Information and Media Studies needed someone to teach this technology. As a (very) early adopter I had the skills, so I started teaching part-time, which I did for nearly a decade. I moved into full time around the era that social media took off.

So there you go: Earth ->learning web design ?>a teaching career at Western. A palpable and significant influence on my life.

After you read Earth, try the Uplift Saga, or if you enjoy post-apocalyptic fiction, then you MUST read The Postman. (Definitely read the book before you watch the movie.)

You can find all his books listed at David Brin’s website.

cover art of The Fridgularity and Marvellous Hairy, both by Mark A. Rayner

Get a free ebook!

If you’d like to check out one of my previous novels, before you buy, I’m happy to just give you one. Not only that, you can choose between Marvellous Hairy and The Fridgularity. (They’re both great in their own ways.) Just join my newsletter to get started!

Join Mark’s Newsletter

* indicates required