Existence is hard… Existence by David Brin, that is

I am really enjoying Existence by David Brin but it is hard to read. Perhaps it’s because I’m reading it late at night, or perhaps it’s just me, but I find I’m only able to read about two pages a day. Which, since the book is 560 pages long, means I’ll probably be still reading it sometime in 2017. As someone who typically reads 2–3 books or more a week, this means that the book is a slog.

But I’m loving it! Don’t get me wrong, this book is really interesting and fun, it’s just hard and slow to read.

My biggest frustration right now is that there are so many POV characters that I get frustrated when the scene switches to someone else — until, that is, I get into their POV again and then I’m frustrated when we switch back to the first character.

There are several engaging characters:

  • there’s Hacker, the rich celeb who spends his time doing crazy and stupid things, but in his latest endeavor ends up finding what might be his life’s work.
  • there’s Hacker’s mom, who is just as wealthy, and finds herself at odds with the rest of her class when she doesn’t really want to become part of a plan to turn Earth feudal again (with her class on top)
  • there’s the Chinese couple who are “shoresteading” in an abandoned and mostly underwater mansion. His wife and son were bit characters for the first few scenes, but now she has taken on a starring role herself
  • there’s the astronaut who discovered a pod apparently sent from aliens
  • there’s the reporter who is in a horrible accident, but still gets the story with the help of the net
  • there are the dolphins who have been uplifted and then left to fend for themselves when the humans who started the project get scared off
  • there are the ’auties’ and ’aspies’ who interject with confusing sections that are almost unintelligible except that they make sense when you let your brain ruminate
  • there are the AIs which don’t seem (so far) to have separate chapters devoted to them, but they do seem to play a significant role in the story
  • and of course there are the aliens, which are, well, alien (or maybe they’re a hoax…)

There may be more but I forget now.

I love the reporter scenes where she uses crowdsourcing and other internet features to get her story out. It’s a fascinating way of looking at the net. And I love the scenes written from the perspective of the autistics who are helped by AIs to interact with the world. They clearly see themselves as superior to their less intellectual cousins, homo sapiens. They are very spooky, in a confusing way.

But all these different POVs and characters and styles makes the book very dense. I suspect I’m going to have to stop mid-stream just to read something light like Thirteen by Kelley Armstrong, just to get my groove back. I know that book won’t take long to read, and it should be fun too.

I like reading Existence, but sometimes I like finishing books too.

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