What of the question implicit in the title, Existence?

The alternative to continuity is The End of the World as We Know It… or TEOTWAWKI. Well, you got a survey of possible dooms in this book! It sure is a minefield out there. But poking at the ground in front of us-finding the quicksand and land mines and snake pits-is exactly how worry can gradually transform into hope. Finding a path across the next century is our task, and millions take it seriously.

Along the way, we need to keep reminding ourselves, this awkward phase of early adolescence will pass, if now and then we also lift our heads. Looking ahead.

We aren’t a curse upon the world. We are her new eyes. Her brain, testes, ovaries… her ambition and her heart. Her voice. So sing.

FOLLOW-UP RESOURCES

There will be ongoing discussion, starting at the Tor Books site, but also at www.davidbrin.com/existence.html and on my blog: Contrary Brin.

Regarding the inescapable fact that inter-human violence has plummeted since 1945, see Steven Pinker’s book The Better Angels of Our Nature. Or watch his presentations online.

The crucial concept of positive sum games-the entire basis of our ongoing Enlightenment Experiment-can be explored in one of the most important books of our time, Nonzero, by Robert Wright. My own nonfiction book The Transparent Society delves deeply into questions of secrecy, privacy, and freedom.

Then, once you are girded with good news, explore the darker side! Dive into Jared Diamond’s book Collapse. Our Final Century by Martin Rees and Global Catastrophic Risks by Nick Bostrom and Milan Cirkovic will take you on a lovely guided tour of how stacked the odds appear to be against us. A painfully attractive voyage through daunting perils that culminated in my own contributions to the popular show Life After People.

Finally, if you feel a wakened need to help tip the balance, have a look at suggestions for how even busy, average citizens can make a difference, via proxy power: www.davidbrin.com/proxyactivism.htm. It happens to be easy. So no excuses.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I owe a lot to my coterie of sagacious and unabashed pre-readers, who find innumerable inconsistencies and infelicities, fearlessly telling me wherever the pace-or my storytelling craft-seems to lag. Also, some of them contributed a passel of really cool ideas! I want to thank Sheldon Brown, Vernor Vinge, John Mauldin, Joe Miller, Ellie Miller, Stephen Baxter, Ralph Vicinanza, Erik Flint, Claudio Maccone, Doug McElwain, Stefan Jones, Ernest Lilley, Michelle Nicolosi, Tom Larson, David Moles, Nicholas MacDonald, David Ivory, Tihamer T. Toth-Fejel, Philippe Van Nedervelde, Joy Crisp, David Crisp, Steve Jackson, Mary Amanda Clark, Robert Qualkinbush, Robin Hanson, John Smart, John Powers, William Taylor, Stephen Potts, Beverly Price, Professor Bing Chen, Dan I. Radakovich, Patrick Heffernan, Gray Tan, and Joe Carroll.

To Beth Meacham and Tom Doherty and their comrades at Tor Books, many blessings for your patience. And above all, my love and gratitudinousness to Cheryl and the far-better-than-me kids, who co-endured this long, long haul and helped me past many quagmires of despond.

I promise to write quicker, less exhausting books.

* * *

Some of the Hacker scenes were first published as “Life in the Extreme” in Popular Science, special edition, in August 1998. “The Smartest Mob” first appeared in All Star Zeppelin Adventure Stories (2004) and in Jim Baen’s Universe (online). Some of the scenes featuring Peng Xiang Bin appeared in Jim Baen’s Universe in 2009, via the novella “Shoresteading.” A very early version of Tor’s discovery adventure in the asteroid belt appeared as “Lungfish” in Asimov’s Science Fiction in the 1980s and was heavily revised for a 2012 Festschrift volume in honor of Poul Anderson.

David Brin

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[1] Millions of votes for this question appear to have been generated not by human participants but by a new version of the voxpopuli worm. Yet, our ai arbiter, Deep Purple, insists that we rank it up here, for some unknown reason of its own.

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