Home Literature Stories Movies Games Comics News Discussion Forum
  Science Fiction and Fantasy News
Esslemont's Stonewielder Prologue and Cover (07-26)
Deals and Deliveries (9!!!) (09-12)
Iron Man: Femmes Fatales by Robert Greenberger (09-12)
Indiana Jones and the Army of the Dead by Steve Pe (09-12)

Official sffworld Reviews
Big Time, The by Fritz Leiber (05-29 - Book)
Rogue Clone by Steven L. Kent (05-25 - Book)
The Blue Blazes by Chuck Wendig (05-21 - Book)
The Wisdom of the Shire by Noble Smith (05-17 - Book)


Site Index

Book Info    Bookmark and Share

Kiln People by David Brin

  (12 ratings)

A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M - N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V - W - X - Y - Z

Rating (12 ratings)
Rate this book
(5 best - 1 worst)
Book Information  
AuthorDavid Brin
TitleKiln People
Book Reviews / Comments (submitted by readers)
Submitted by Geoff Foster (Mugwump) 
(Nov 30, 2003)

Hang around any large gathering of Science Fiction aficionados for long enough and sooner or later someone will pipe-up and decry the current state of the genre, affirming with absolute conviction that 'things were better in the old days'.

I've never really taken much notice of these people who choose to eternally wrap themselves in a safety-blanket of nostalgia, but after reading David Brin's 'Kiln People' I am giving serious thought to changing my mind.

I shall not beat about the bush here: this book has all the interesting qualities of a platitudinous conversation with a drunken aunt on Christmas Day. To list all of its manifold flaws would probably chew up this site's entire bandwidth allocation for a month, so I shall concentrate merely upon the most prominent howlers:

a) Taking into account the central themes of the book, I am completely perplexed as to how David Brin came to the conclusion that there is a whopping 600-page (UK edition) story to tell here. Perhaps his publisher pays by the word, in which case I can only congratulate the author on his ability to negotiate a writing deal that would make Gordon Gecko blush. Featuring only three (emotionally anorexic) characters of any real note, and with an environment that you could probably fit inside a reasonable sized airport departure lounge (and be left with room to spare), I really see no need for this story to exceed 200 pages. If the author had set such a limit 'Kiln People' might well have turned out to be an interesting and thought-provoking read. As things stand, what interesting plot there is to be found here is mired in padding, waffle and oily flab: if this book were to take a cholesterol test, they'd be calling in the cardio-resuscitation team and charging up the paddles in apprehension.

b) A future society where animate golems or 'dittos' function as remote sensorial proxies for their hedonistic human masters is an interesting concept, but even the most unquestioning of SF fans must agree that it is also utterly ludicrous. The thought of thousands of these creatures shambling around town, desperately trying to reach the masters so that they can achieve 'upload', whilst sloughing off huge chunks of flesh in the street is just plain silly.

c) This book is bewilderingly schizophrenic, lurching through multiple genres like some punch-drunk boxer who has staggered out of his corner for one fight too many. The author's decision to turn the story into quasi-SF/noir is a particularly bad move as it appears as if he has absolutely no comprehension of what differentiates good noir from bad noir. This tale being a perfect example of the latter.

d) According to one back page review (again  UK edition) 'the twists just keep coming', which is certainly true, and herein lies another problem: the effectiveness of a 'twist' is inversely proportional to the number of times you attempt to deliver it. Throw in two or three twists and you shouldn't have a problem, but attempt any more and you run the risk of reducing your plot to farcical levels. In 'Kiln People', David Brin pulls the rug from out under the reader's feet seemingly every third chapter, and by the end I was half expecting Patrick Duffy to step out of the shower and tell me that it was all a dream. Oh but if I could be so lucky.

e) From about chapter 60 onwards this book becomes practically unreadable. Line after line of self-indulgent, pretentious diction such as 'It is the answer to the Riddle of Pain' or 'now back to the ortho-moment' spew forth at the reader like ectoplasm from the revolving head of a demonically possessed Regan MacNeil. Clearly Brin has some pressing piece of quasi-religious insight that he wishes to share with his readers, but I am in a state of absolute mystification trying to explain what it is.

f) Sitting through 600 plus pages of Albert Morris and his many dittos (who all act in precisely the same annoying jocular manner, despite major design differences which would no doubt dramatically affect each ditto's outlook and personality) is somewhat akin to being stuck in a hellish time-loop, endlessly recycling the first day back at school after the summer holidays. I can't decide exactly when I began to loathe his painful wisecracks and all round thickheadishness but I'm pretty sure that I was a long way toward formulating the opinion somewhere within the first chapter.

Now, if it appears as if I am in a state of foam-mouthed apoplexy here then let me take this opportunity to confirm your suspicions. This book is a clunker of earth-shattering proportions, and I am struggling in vain to recall reading anything this bad in the last five years. The sad thing is that I really wanted to like this novel. I respect David Brin for his sterling work in the highly entertaining 'Uplift series', but sadly 'Kiln People' must rank as his most forgettable creation yet. In 600 pages I sifted out little more than a couple of chapters' worth of novel imagery, and the development work on a coherent plot and characterisation is pretty much non-existent.

One to be avoided, and I sincerely hope that Brin doesn't make a habit out of this worthless nonsense in the future.

Sponsor ads



The Terry Pratchett Anywhere But Here, Anywhen But Now First Novel Prize!
05-31 - News
Stephen King's Joyland UK Promotion
05-30 - News
UK Publisher of Stephen King’s New Novel Unusual Promotion
05-30 - News
Big Time, The by Fritz Leiber
05-29 - Book Review
Rogue Clone by Steven L. Kent
05-25 - Book Review
The Blue Blazes by Chuck Wendig
05-21 - Book Review
The Wisdom of the Shire by Noble Smith
05-17 - Book Review

05-10 - News
The Tyrant's Law by Daniel Abraham
05-04 - Book Review
Galaxy's Edge 1 by Mike Resnick
04-28 - Book Review
Poison by Sarah Pinborough
04-21 - Book Review
Bullington, Beukes and Bacigalupi event
04-19 - News
The City by Stella Gemmell
04-17 - Book Review
Promise of Blood by Brian McClellan
04-15 - Book Review
Tarnished Knight by Jack Campbell
04-09 - Book Review
Frank Hampson: Tomorrow Revisited by Alastair Crompton
04-07 - Book Review
The Forever Knight by John Marco
04-01 - Book Review
Book of Sith - Secrets from the Dark Side by Daniel Wallace
03-31 - Book Review
NOS4R2 by Joe Hill
03-25 - Book Review
Fade to Black by Francis Knight
03-13 - Book Review
The Clone Republic by Steven L. Kent
03-12 - Book Review
The Burn Zone by James K. Decker
03-06 - Book Review
A Conspiracy of Alchemists by Liesel Schwarz
03-04 - Book Review
Blood's Pride by Evie Manieri
02-28 - Book Review
Excerpt: River of Stars by Guy Gavriel Kay
02-27 - Article
Tales of Majipoor by Robert Silverberg
02-24 - Book Review
American Elsewhere by Robert Jackson Bennett
02-20 - Book Review
Evie Manieri Guest Post
02-19 - Article
The Grim Company by Luke Scull
02-17 - Book Review
Red Planet by Robert A. Heinlein
02-11 - Book Review

New Forum Posts

About - Advertising - Contact us - RSS - For Authors & Publishers - Contribute / Submit - Privacy Policy - Community Login
Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use. The contents of this webpage are copyright © 1997-2011 sffworld.com. All Rights Reserved.