"Self-righteous people can talk themselves into forgetting they are part of a civilization. They can then feed on that culture, bringing it down. It's happened many times in the past. It could happen to us." -- David Brin
Glen David Brin, Ph.D. (born October 6, 1950) is an American scientist and award-winning author of science fiction. He has received the Hugo, Locus, Campbell and Nebula Awards.
"Above all, TRIBES is fun, and even kind of sexy... in that every round features an Opportunity for Reproduction, which is the main aim of the game, as it is in most of Nature.""Anyone who wants simple, pat stories should buy another author's product. The real universe ain't that way, and neither are my fictive ones.""But honestly, if you do a rigorous survey of my work, I'll bet you'll find that biology is a theme far more often than physical science.""But it is a delightful challenge to try to depict interesting aliens.""Change is the principal feature of our age and literature should explore how people deal with it. The best science fiction does that, head-on.""Fortunately, human beings are remarkably diverse models to work from.""I find humans tremendously interesting.""I like to be surprised. Fresh implications and plot twists erupt as a story unfolds. Characters develop backgrounds, adding depth and feeling. Writing feels like exploring.""I would normally never set out to write a trilogy.""In the book, America had already been weakened by bio terror plagues before waves of selfish violence took down the rest. But the real enemy was the kind of male human being who nurses fantasies of violent glory at the expense of his fellow citizens.""It is said that power corrupts, but actually it's more true that power attracts the corruptible. The sane are usually attracted by other things than power.""My education and background thoroughly inform my writing.""My first duty to write a gripping yarn. Second is to convey credible characters who make you feel what they feel. Only third comes the idea.""One of the rules I try to follow is that normal people are going to be involved even in heroic events.""Only a knowledgeable, empowered and vocal citizenry can perform well in democracy.""Predicting has a spotty record in science fiction. I've had some failures. On the other hand, I also predicted the fall of the Berlin Wall and the rise of fundamentalist Islam... and I'm not happy to be right in all of those cases.""She had called in the debt that parents owe a child for bringing her, unasked, into a strange world. One should never make an offer without knowing full well what will happen if it is accepted.""The worst mistake of first contact, made throughout history by individuals on both sides of every new encounter, has been the unfortunate habit of making assumptions. It often proved fatal.""There's no doubt that scientific training helps many authors to write better science fiction. And yet, several of the very best were English majors who could not parse a differential equation to save their lives.""We already live a very long time for mammals, getting three times as many heartbeats as a mouse or elephant. It never seems enough though, does it?""When I begin a book, I inevitably discover many things along the way, about the characters, their past histories and the political intrigues that surround them. This discovery process is vital, and I would not prejudice it by deciding too much in advance.""When it comes to privacy and accountability, people always demand the former for themselves and the latter for everyone else.""Why must conversions always come so late? Why do people always apologize to corpses?"
Brin was born in Glendale, California in 1950. In 1973, he graduated from the California Institute of Technology with a Bachelor of Science in astronomy. He followed this with a Master of Science in applied physics in 1978 and a Doctor of Philosophy in space science in 1981, both from the University of California, San Diego.
Brin is a 2010 fellow of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies.
He currently lives in southern California with his children.
Brin's body of science fiction, when taken as a whole, is normally categorized as hard science fiction.
The Uplift stories
About half of Brin's works are in his Uplift Universe. These have won a large following in the SF community, twice winning the international Science Fiction Achievement Award (Hugo Award) in the Best Novel category.
This future history depicts a huge galactic civilization responsible for "uplifting" all forms of life which are potentially capable of building and operating interstellar spaceships for themselves. The stories focus almost exclusively on oxygen-breathing species but make it clear that there are other "orders of life", of which hydrogen-breathers are the most important. In the "Uplift" novels humans are economically and technologically the weakest spacefaring race, and are an anomaly since they have no apparent "patron" species responsible for their uplift from animal pre-sapience (Whether their patron abandoned them or whether humans gained sentience on their own is never definitively settled) As a result several races are eager to force humans to become their client; but galactic law saves humans from this fate because they are patrons themselves, having already made considerable progress in uplifting dolphins and chimpanzees before developing faster-than-light space travel and thus attracting the attention of galactic civilization. Many sentients see humans' lack of patrons as an opportunity to bully them mercilessly. It does not help that humans have a relatively non-hierarchical society with rather informal habits of speech, while most of galactic society is rather feudal and very particular about etiquette, especially deference.
The Uplift novels are:
Startide Rising (1983) -- Hugo and Locus SF Awards winner, 1984 ; Nebula Award winner, 1983 
The Uplift War (1987) -- Hugo and Locus SF Awards winner, 1988 ; Nebula Award nominee, 1987 
The Uplift Trilogy (sometimes called the Uplift Storm trilogy):
Brightness Reef (1995) -- Hugo and Locus SF Awards nominee, 1996 
Infinity's Shore (1996)
Heaven's Reach (1998) ISBN 0-553-57473-6
Additionally, Brin wrote two short stories set in the Uplift universe, "Temptation" and "Aficionado". "Temptation" appeared in Robert Silverberg's anthology Far Horizons: All New Tales from the Greatest Worlds of Science Fiction and is set after the events in the Infinity's Shore. "Aficionado" was published in the limited-edition collection Tomorrow Happens, and is a short-story prequel to the novels. This story was originally published as "Life in the Extreme" in Popular Science Magazine Special Edition (August 1998). Both stories are also freely available on Brin's website.
Brin has also co-authored with Kevin Lenagh Contacting Aliens: An Illustrated Guide to David Brin's Uplift Universe.
There is a detailed Uplift supplement for the roleplaying game GURPS allowing players to play out adventures in the universe described in these novels. Although Brin did not write the GURPS supplement, he did contribute information to it.
Several of his novels refer to the fictional Anglic language, a future variety of English.
Brin has contrasted the Uplift saga...in which humans find themselves one minor species among a universe of many thousands of more advanced races...with his short story "The Crystal Spheres" (available in the collection The River of Time), in which humans begin searching for extraterrestrial life only to learn that the universe is empty of other sapient life... almost.
Brin has written a number of stand-alone novels:
The Practice Effect (1984)
The Postman (1985) -- Campbell and Locus SF Awards winner, Hugo Award nominee, 1986 ; Nebula Award nominee, 1985  Originally appeared, in substantially different form, as a three-part novella in Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine. (Filmed by Kevin Costner as a major motion picture with disappointing box-office numbers; Brin has spoken kindly of the film, a generosity shown by few of his fans, who found it deeply disappointing.)
Heart of the Comet (1986) (with Gregory Benford) -- Locus SF Award nominee, 1987 
Earth (1990) -- Hugo and Locus SF Awards nominee, 1991  (Contains many successful predictions of current trends (such as global warming) and technologies: Earth Prediction wiki)
Glory Season (1993) -- Hugo and Locus SF Awards nominee, 1994 
Kiln People (2002) -- Campbell, Clarke, Hugo, and Locus SF Awards nominee, 2003 . Kiln People (published in the UK as Kil'n People) had the unusual distinction of finishing second in four different awards for best SF/fantasy novel of 2002...the Hugo, the Locus, the John W. Campbell Award, and the Arthur C. Clarke Award; each time finishing behind a different book.
Forgiveness (2002) (Graphic novel set in the The Next Generation universe)
The Life Eaters (2003) (Graphic novel published by the Wildstorm imprint of DC Comics, art by Scott Hampton)
His short fiction has been collected in:
The River of Time (1986)
Tomorrow Happens (2003)
Other well-known works by David Brin include his book that completes and ties up all of the loose ends in the legendary Asimov's Foundation Universe:
Foundation's Triumph (1999)
Brin wrote the storyline for the video game Defender of the Future.
Brin also wrote a number of articles criticising several science-fiction and fantasy series, including Star Wars, and The Lord of the Rings. On Star Wars Brin focused on what he called George Lucas's "agenda", describing how he saw the basis of the Star Wars universe as profoundly anti-democratic. These essays inspired a debate-format book: Star Wars On Trial which clashed "defense vs prosecution" testimony covering a dozen political and philosophical and storytelling charges against the Star Wars Universe. Brin also criticised The Lord of the Rings for what he perceived to be its unquestioning devotion to a traditional elitist social structure, its positive depiction of the slaughter of the opposing forces, and its romantic backward-looking worldview.
Concerns and themes of his work
Many of Brin's original works (works not set into pre-existing series or "universes") focus on the impact on human society of technology humankind develops for itself, a theme which commonly appears in contemporary North American science-fiction. This is most noticeable in The Practice Effect, Glory Season and Kiln People.
Brin's Jewish heritage may be the source of two other strong themes in his works. Tikkun Olam ("repairing the world", i.e. people have a duty to make the world a better place) is originally a religious concept but Brin, like many non-orthodox Jews, has adapted this into a secular notion of working to improve the human condition, to increase knowledge, and to prevent long-term evils. Brin has confirmed that this notion in part underscores the notion of humans as "caretakers" of sentient-species-yet-to-be, as he explains in a concluding note at the end of Startide Rising; and it plays a key role in The Uplift War, where the Thennanin are converted from enemies to allies of the Terragens (humans and other sapients that originated on Earth) when they realize that making the world a better place and being good caretakers are core values of both civilizations. Many of Brin's novels emphasize another element of Jewish tradition, the importance of laws and legality, whether intergalactic law in the Uplift series or that of near-future California in Kiln People but, on the other hand, Brin has stated that "Truly mature citizens ought not to need an intricate wrapping of laws and regulations, in order to do what common sense dictates as good for all".
The "Uplift" stories also feature themes which are conspicuous in Brin's Web site: the dangers of contact with more advanced races (his reservations about Active SETI); his dislike of stories which glorify elitist and backward-looking cultures (Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings); the necessity and difficulty of holding the powerful to account for their actions; and the dangers of the "rising mass frenzy of self-righteousness" (a good description of the Jophur).