Tor Books, 568 pp.
I missed this one when it was first released in hardcover so I pounced on it as soon as it came out in paperback. Brin is one of those rare authors that I have come to count on as a “sure thing.” In Kiln People he revisits familiar territory from a new angle. Like his Uplift series, Brin is once again dealing with a sentient race that has difficulties being recognized by the dominant species and focuses on how they cope with the issues that are involved. This time though, he writes with his tongue firmly in cheek. The main character, Albert Morris, is a private investigator in the classic Chandler mold. The great twist here is the introduction of dittos—clay copies of individuals that have all of the memories of their original, with a one-day lifespan. It’s a slightly silly premise, but it works extremely well in the context of a film noir-style private eye story. Brin keeps the story fast-paced, with a steady barrage of puns and bullets. If nothing else, it’s worth reading just for the clever way that Brin has set up three points of view, all from the same character. And, amidst the fun and excitement, he addresses the serious issues of prejudice, individuality, and religion. There is something exciting on every page.