Insistence Of Vision by David Brin (book review)

As Vernor Vinge points out in the introduction, David Brin is an enthusiastic short story writer as he is a novels. With ‘Insistence Of Vision’, he has 22 short stories and novellas to catch your attention, not to mention an article at the beginning examining Science Fiction as it started and developed and what kinds there are. A normal day at the office for me.


I have to confess that none of Brin’s stories really struck home until I reached ‘Mars Opposition’ and this one really felt like his old self. Martians have come to Earth with a list of people that they want to meet, paying with gold for the information. When any are found, they are promptly killed. Why is spoiler but it’s a good spoiler and set at a time when people thought there was life on Mars. The lead character works out what is going on and how to handle it. This is all totally spoiler but pure SF with a decent solution..

A lot of the time with Brin’s stories, I started switching into the mode of what he was trying to achieve with these stories. Some were obviously to please readers of the Coss Domination books, which I’m not familiar with, but then what about the rest? Sometimes he would have a setting but then get caught up in character motivation than SF plot which basically turns into a weakness and certainly a failure in variety. His only Uplift story, Temptation’, is a continuation from his second trilogy and although Brin briefs as to the events leading up to it then verges into fantasy elements with one of its major sub-plots.

At the end of the book, Brin points out that they were all written for particular magazines and such which means he was also probably writing for a particular spec requirement. I suspect also I haven’t caught up with his developments over the recent years since reading his excellent ‘Kiln People’. If you like character exploration as opposed to SF plot then you will probably be better served here than I was.

GF Willmetts

March 2016

(pub: The Story Plant/Fiction Studio Books. 370 page hardback. Price: $26.95 (US). ISBN: 978-1-61188-220-9)

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