David Brin

Glen David Brin is an American scientist and author of science fiction. He has received the Hugo, Locus, Campbell and Nebula Awards. His novel The Postman was adapted as a feature film and starred Kevin Costner in 1997. Brin's nonfiction book The Transparent Society won the Freedom of Speech Award of the American Library Association and the McGannon Communication Award.

Early life and education

Brin was born in Glendale, California in 1950. He graduated from the California Institute of Technology with a Bachelor of Science in astronomy, in 1973. At the University of California, San Diego, he earned a Master of Science in applied physics in 1978 and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in space science in 1981. From 1983 to 1986 he was a postdoctoral research fellow at the California Space Institute, of the University of California, at the San Diego campus in La Jolla.


Brin is a 2010 fellow of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies. He helped establish the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination. He serves on the advisory board of NASA's Innovative and Advanced Concepts group and frequently does futurist consulting for corporations and government agencies.
Brin consults and speaks for a wide variety of groups interested in the future, ranging from Defense Department agencies and the CIA to Procter & Gamble, SAP, Google and other major corporations. He has also been a participant in discussions at the Philanthropy Roundtable and other groups seeking innovative problem solving approaches.
Brin has a very active side career in public speaking and consultation. He appears frequently on science or future related television shows such as The Universe, Life After People, Alien Encounters, Worlds of Tomorrow, and many others. He briefly was a regular on the challenge design show The Architechs in which "five geniuses" were challenged to solve a major problem in 48 hours.
He also serves on the Board of Advisors for the Museum of Science Fiction.


Brin's work, when taken as a whole, is normally categorized as hard science fiction, in that most works apply some degree of plausible scientific or technological change as partial plot drivers. Exceptions include the graphic novel The Life Eaters, in which Norse gods assist the Nazis.

The Uplift stories

About half of Brin's works are in his Uplift Universe. These have twice won the international Science Fiction Achievement Award in the Best Novel category.
The Uplift novels are:
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. Both stories are also freely available on Brin's website. Brin has stated that he intends to return to the Uplift universe at some point, but is not currently working on anything. A segment of his novel Existence deals with the origins of dolphin Uplift and hence might be considered linked to the Uplift Universe.
Brin co-wrote with Kevin Lenagh Contacting Aliens: An Illustrated Guide to David Brin's Uplift Universe.

Other fiction

Brin has written a number of stand-alone novels:
Graphic novels:
His short fiction has been collected in:
  • The River of Time
  • Otherness
  • Tomorrow Happens
  • Insistence of Vision
Other works by Brin include his addition to Asimov's Foundation Universe:
  • Foundation's Triumph
and his addition to Eric Flint's 1632-verse:
Brin designed the game Tribes, published in 1998 by Steve Jackson Games. Brin wrote the storyline for the 2000 Dreamcast video game

Concerns and themes of his work

Many of Brin's works not set into preexisting 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 is the source of two other strong themes in his works. Tikkun Olam 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 when they realize that making the world a better place and being good care-takers 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".


Brin currently lives in San Diego, California with his wife and children. He has Polish Jewish ancestry, from the area around Konin. His grandfather was drafted into the Russian army and fought in the Russian-Japanese War of 1905.

Honors and awards