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Kiln People

timothy posted more than 11 years ago | from the claymation-dittos dept.

News 108

Doug Dante writes "Albert Morris is a detective, but he rarely places his real body in danger. Instead, each day he rises and imprints specialized dittos to do his legwork, review the evidence, meet others, and run errands while he stays home, tends his garden, and keeps his real body in good physical condition." Read more about dittos (and other manifestations of future technology) as portrayed in David Brin's Kiln People; Doug's review of the book continues below.

But after a brief prelude (reminiscent of the introductory scene of Indiana Jones), on the first full day of Kiln People Morris and his dittos are pulled by players in a great game seeking to use him to their own ends. He is hired by Ritu Maharal when her father Yosil Maharal dies in an unexpected and rare car accident. Yosil Maharal and his partner Vic Kaolin founded the corporate giant UK (Universal Kilns) after pioneering soulistics and inventing dittotech years earlier; changing the world forever.

We are introduced to a cast of characters through the first person narration of Albert and his dittos, each of whom, like the blind men touching an elephant in the Indian fable, sees a different picture of events. Albert is the heart of the book, and we understand his motivations and how his physical manifestation, as ditto or person, affects his outlook, attitude, and actions. However, the motivations of other characters including Yosil Maharal, his partner Vic Kaolin, his daughter Ritu, and Albert's mysterious nemesis the dittotech pirate Beta remain cloaked -- disappointingly so as the book closes with some, but not all, of our questions probably, but not certainly, answered in speculative form.

Kiln People is a bit long. Through the first half, as Albert and his ditto selves picked up the trails of their inevitably converging cases, the shadowy figures of Vic Kaolin and Yosil Maharal were mixed in with a cast of other minor characters including Pal, Carla, Gineen Wammaker, the Maestra, and Queen Irene. I had to flip back at least once to recall which one was actually supposed to be dead!

There's a lot of action here. The book features bar fights, urban gun battles, guerrilla surveillance insertions, sabotage, and plenty of danger for the characters. (It could make a good movie with the right script and director). But the characters involved in many of these harrowing situations are themselves dittos, and like the citizens of the Kiln People world, I became desensitized to violence against all dittos, and disinterested in the plight of the characters.

Through the second half, perhaps because of previous experience reading David Brin's previous book Earth, certain future events became rather apparent, and I did find myself eventually wading through the last 100 pages or so just so that I could get through to the foreseeable climax.

That said, Kiln People tied neatly some nagging mysteries as it closed. The book gives a realistic portrayal of a world which had integrated the disruptive technology of ditto tech, and it succeeded in presenting some interesting scientific and speculative material too.

This book shared many themes with David Brin's previous book Earth including the attempted/accidental creation of a deity, people seeking to be Godlike, the threat of mass human destruction, a lone mad genius, and the unity of all humanity within a greater entity. Also, this world, like the world of Earth featured the end of secrecy the dangers of technology, and a semi-libertarian legal system ( Called "the Big Deregulation" here). However, the setting, story and ideas of Kiln People, while reminiscent of Earth, are substantially independent.

If you enjoyed Earth, you will probably also enjoy Kiln People as I did. It's a fair story wrapping interesting ideas in a realistic but fantastic setting. However, it can be a bit long and obtuse.


You can purchase Kiln People from bn.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.

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108 comments

first post (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5101446)

first post doods haha

news for news, stuff that matters??? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5101466)

this book review is OFFTOPIC

Re:news for news, stuff that matters??? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5101482)

alright, time to get some coffee....that should read: news for nerds, stuff that matters
the funny thing, i did hit preview...

Re:news for news, stuff that matters??? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5101498)

Offtopic, and tardy. The book came out eight months ago. After hearing today's headlines about 'big brother' fears due to cameras in public places, a more appropriate Brin review would be of The Transparent Society [amazon.com] .

Re:news for news, stuff that matters??? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5101565)

how in the world is an AC post scored at 0 overrated?? the comment is much of a flamebait or troll, just a meta comment.

the editors seem to be a little to triggerhappy with the downmods.

keep it coming michael (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5101641)

You modbombing nazi cunt. How come nobody has banned you for moderating badly yet?

Re:news for news, stuff that matters??? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5101543)

send the spelling nazi's after me, but u can take ur offtopic moderation and go suck cowboiNeals balls....uz a bitch mf

B- (4, Funny)

tps12 (105590) | more than 11 years ago | (#5101470)

While this book report was well-written, and the handwriting is flawless, I was looking for more discussion of the book's themes and the author's use of literary techniques such as metaphor and simile. The plot summary should be very limited. Rewrite for a B+.

I read this book last week (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5101475)

A very interesting read indeed.

Hey when you are done slashdotting, why not check out the hot or not babe over at Pajonet.com [pajonet.com] !

So (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5101487)

Lets go Kill people.

MICHEAL SUCKS TROLL COCKS (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5101489)

Re:MICHEAL SUCKS TROLL COCKS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5101986)

Learn how to spell, you fucking idiot.

Oh wait ... I forgot: you used to take the short bus to school, and had the teacher wipe the drool from your mouth and adjust your hockey helmet.

Never mind.

What are dittos? (5, Informative)

El Volio (40489) | more than 11 years ago | (#5101494)

The review never actually explains it... there's another review [metroland.net] out there which does, fortunately.

GOATSE LINK! DONT CLICK! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5101510)

Re:What are dittos? (1)

stevey (64018) | more than 11 years ago | (#5101925)

From reading that link they sound quite similar to Greg Bear's constructs as used in Eon. But more throwaway - it's an interesting concept.

Re:What are dittos? (3, Interesting)

Big Sean O (317186) | more than 11 years ago | (#5102354)

Ditto's are androids, copied from the original human. They have the original's memories up to the time of imprinting. The 'dits' have a limited lifespan (usually about a day). Then they tend to fall apart.

Dits come in different styles, some are cheap and made for errands. Some are optimized for sensation (you send the dit on an adventure and 'upload' the resulting memories). The obsidian dits are optimized for thinking and concentration. They're like hackers all juiced up on jolt.

Having disposable labor results in mass unemployment. For instance, the best janitor in the city can make 50 dittos every morning, and send them out to work. After their work day, they turn themselves in to the 'reprocessing center'. He gets the money and the other 49 janitors who used to have jobs end up on the dole.

Of course, that makes the lynch-pin of the economy, makers of the 'dittos' and the 'ditto-ing' process, incredibly rich AND incredibly vulnerable.

Albert Morris has a real job. He's a detective. His dittos are 'ditectives' and they make him some nice coin. When he (they) gets involved in a complicated plot involving the 'dittotech masters'.

David Brin is known for novels that shift the POV. With Kiln People, he gets to shift the POV to realAlbert and all his 'dits'. This results in one of Brin's better developed characters. You even start to like his 'dits' as they change over time.

IMHO, Brin tends to get messy at the end of his novels. He usually throws everything and the kitchen sink in the last 100 pages. Heaven's Reach was one of the worst examples, the entire book departs from Gigo and goes to a black hole, distant galaxys, a dyson sphere, and extra dimensions... Kiln People gets a little convoluted in the end, but it's a good story.

Sounds a lot like a Colem, actually... (1)

mbessey (304651) | more than 11 years ago | (#5104722)

Made out of clay, lives to carry out instructions, etc. Are there any other Jewish mythology references in the book?

-Mark

Re:Sounds a lot like a Colem, actually... (1)

doc_side (557114) | more than 11 years ago | (#5105228)

Maybe you mean a Golem? I could be wrong.. I merely seek clarification.

The Transparent Society (5, Interesting)

On Lawn (1073) | more than 11 years ago | (#5101524)

Its not unusual to see such themes as open information in his books. David Brin is active on the NPR front promoting one of the few alternate plans that attempts to stop INS detentions *and* terrorist activity in one fell swoop.

His essay "The Transparent Society" calls for open information that can be used in social policing and accountability. Much of what he models this on came from observing news groups and other (i think he calls them) militant internet movements. Linux itself is one of those movements he mentioned.

If he did use the word militant, it was more a commantary on the way these groups police themselves, and how they band together to wage information war against those they don't like. In Slashdot's case that would be the RIAA, MPAA. For Linux, it would be whatever would try to keep us from hacking our own kernel.

Whats interesting about this is its Orwellian overtones, but lack of a centralized big brother. Anyway, as far as idelogues go I probably like Brin more then say Chomsky or Kato, although they have their simularities.

_________________________
OnRoad: [onlawn.net] Hacking that which costs more and is more deadly.

Re:The Transparent Society (1)

DrQuack (556902) | more than 11 years ago | (#5102442)

I haven't read the book yet. Although, I did have the pleasure of hearing David Brin speak at a banquet for the Los Alamos Neutron Scattering Workshop this week. One theme I walked out with was: deterrence only goes so far; we as a society need resilience. Quite a powerful message at a National Lab whose primary task in National Security (yea, deterrence.)

Great Book !!! (-1, Redundant)

Rossalina W Sanchez (575882) | more than 11 years ago | (#5101528)

Just about everyone's had a day when they've wished it were possible to send an alternate self to take care of unpleasant or tedious errands while the real self takes it easy. In Kiln People, David Brin's sci-fi-meets-noir novel, this wish has come true. In Brin's imagined future, folks are able to make inexpensive, disposable clay copies of themselves. These golems or "dittos" live for a single day to serve their creator, who can then choose whether or not to "inload" the memories of the ditto's brief life. But private investigator Albert Morris gets more than he, or his "ditective" copies, bargain for when he signs on to help solve the mysterious disappearance of Universal Kilns' co-founder Yasil Maharal--the father of dittotech.

Brin successfully interweaves plot lines as numerous as our hero's ditectives and doggedly sticks to the rules of his created dittotech while Morris's "realflesh" and clay manifestations slowly unravel the dangerous secret behind Maharal's disappearance. As Brin juggles his multiple protagonists and antagonists, he urges the reader to question notions of memory, individualism, and technology, and to answer the schizoid question "which 'you' is 'you?'" Brin's enjoyment is evident as he plays with his terracotta creations' existential angst and simultaneously deconstructs the familiar streetwise detective meme--complete with a multilayered ending. Overall, Kiln People is a fun read, with a good balance of hard science fiction and pop sensibility

In the words of Eric Cartman... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5101632)

Bitch, go to the kitchen and make me some pie!!!

Another review nicked off amazon (3, Informative)

dabuk (573028) | more than 11 years ago | (#5101646)

Why do you bother?

Rossalina loves to plagiarise [amazon.com]

Re:Another review nicked off amazon (0, Offtopic)

pnot (96038) | more than 11 years ago | (#5101765)

Frankly I'm appalled that Rossalina dares to plagiarise Amazon -- on Slashdot, of all places. Can't she steal reviews from B&N, or some other site that doesn't abuse the patent system?

Hmmm. Maybe we need a "-1, blatant plagiarism" mod option ;-).

Re:Another review nicked off amazon (0, Offtopic)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 11 years ago | (#5101928)

I thought the review was interesting, but no mod points for stolen work! (This post cancels my mod. Hopefully others will do the same.)

Re:Another review nicked off amazon (0, Offtopic)

dpp (585742) | more than 11 years ago | (#5102570)

Well, maybe it's not plagiarism - maybe she's just created a ditto of the original review, in the spirit of the book? :-)

Clones? (1)

The Terrorists (619137) | more than 11 years ago | (#5101531)

It's not clear from the reviee what these dittoes are. If they are clones, it's rather unfeasible - one cannot project your will onto another person except via intensive effort.

If they are androids, that's far more likely. I fully expect that in the far future people will be able to willfully control constructed apparatus at a level of sophistication that makes them essentially a double for the original person.

Re:Clones? (4, Interesting)

benwb (96829) | more than 11 years ago | (#5101621)

They're somewhere between the two. In the book there's no need to project your will onto the ditto's because they are you- including all of your memories. They also have a very limited life span (a couple weeks at the most), and their only shot at living (even just in memory) is to get back home and upload their memories to their creator.

Re:Clones? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5102025)

"one cannot project your will onto another person except via intensive effort."

Really? My girlfriend seems able to do this quite easily.

Does that mean I'm a dit-

I've got to clean some dishes now. Goodbye.

Re:Clones? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5102133)

Eh?

"If they are clones, it's rather unfeasible... If they are androids, that's far more likely."

Unfeasible, likely - surely the author can have pretty much anything as likely or as not as he likes, since these things don't actually exist...?

Re:Clones? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5102630)

If you've read Ian M. Bank's "Culture" novels, a "ditto" corresponds to the "Mind Abstract State" computer entities used in the Culture novels as emails/cajolers/dogsbodies.

Earth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5101532)

I had read "Earth [mediagab.com] " and thought it was really good. I'll have to go read "Kiln People [mediagab.com] " now.

Multiplicity (2, Funny)

telstar (236404) | more than 11 years ago | (#5101537)

"Instead, each day he rises and imprints specialized dittos to do his legwork, review the evidence, meet others, and run errands while he stays home, tends his garden, and keeps his real body in good physical condition."

Re:Multiplicity (1)

signer (599834) | more than 11 years ago | (#5101651)

That's one of the points the book addresses. In general, a ditto can't make a ditto of itself. Only the real body can make dittos, which is why it's so important for the person to keep his real body in good physical condition.

Cheesy Clone story (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5101540)

NOT NEWS at all, not mattering, not worth reading.

Dittos (2, Informative)

koan (80826) | more than 11 years ago | (#5101545)

This is not his best work, it's almost as though he took a bet to write this one.
The discussion of the soul space did bring up some interesting ideas and ways to look at souls and the concept of religion.
Over all a decent read though certainly not his best stuff.

Re:Dittos (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5101896)

I appreciate the comparisons to Earth in the original review, because I'm reading Earth now and I think Earth is not his best work either. IMHO his best work (that I've read so far) would be the second uplift series (Brightness Reef, Infinity's Shore, Heaven's Reach). Also enjoyed the Postman and The Practice Effect more than Earth.

That being said, I'm always telling people David Brin is my favorite SF author. While the thought of another book like Earth leaves me cold, the hoiked amazon.com review above and the promise of "interesting ideas and ways to look at souls and the concept of religion" has me interested...

Multiplicity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5101558)

Didn't Michael Keaton star in a movie about this already?

Kiln People. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5101570)


My grandfather Fritz used to put people in an oven at his job during the war.

the future is now. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5101575)

There's a lot of action here. The book features bar fights, urban gun battles, guerrilla surveillance insertions, sabotage, and plenty of danger for the characters.

sounds like my every day life. try living in Columbia sometime.

Re:the future is now. (0)

tps12 (105590) | more than 11 years ago | (#5101898)

No kidding. Washington, D.C. is an embarrassment to the whole country.

Cheaper (1, Informative)

Spoons (26950) | more than 11 years ago | (#5101598)


If you want it amazon.com has it cheaper [amazon.com]

Re:Cheaper (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5102030)

There are at least eight places online [allbookstores.com] that have it cheaper (including shipping) than Amazon. Ten if you include used book stores.

Re:Cheaper (1)

Spoons (26950) | more than 11 years ago | (#5102131)

Amazon has their "FREE Super Saver Shipping" though (if you spend over $25), so it is a pretty good deal over bn.com. But, you are right. You might be able to find it somewhere else a little bit cheaper :)

gross (4, Interesting)

rossjudson (97786) | more than 11 years ago | (#5101600)

I've been trying to read this lately, mostly over lunch. Big mistake. There are ditto bodies melting all over the place. It's one of the most violent things I've read in a long time. Yuck.
And here's the thing: I disagree with a fundamental premise of the book. Brin's constructed a world where you send your ditto (copy) out to do things for you. It lives a very short time (24 hours or whatever). You can pull its memories back into your "real" self, if it physically survives. The dittos are treated really badly; shot at, spat on, you name it, because they're disposable.
But if these memories are coming back to the real people, why would dittos be treated so badly? Some kind of "net good" effect would happen, I'd think...where people would do unto others etc...
Upshot? Nasty, violent society that isn't much fun to read about, so far.

Re:gross (1)

signer (599834) | more than 11 years ago | (#5101676)

You have the option to not inload the ditto's memories if you don't want to. That's one of the things they mention under the "people sure do strange things" topic. There are people who deliberately make dittos to go out and do things with the understanding that the dittos will NEVER return for inloading! The dittos that are treated really badly are the ones that don't make it back, or that you choose not to inload if they do make it back, so there's no incentive to be nice. It says at the beginning that the hero is one of the few people that actually do inload memories from damaged/brutalized dittos, so the implication is that in the society as a whole, those memories are lost.

Re:gross (1)

SiliconEntity (448450) | more than 11 years ago | (#5104967)

I agree that the premise was implausible in terms of people mistreating the dittos. In fact, I found it quite offensive, as Brin dusted off all of the worst abuses of the slavery era and presented them unapologetically as part of this new society. Dittos must step aside when the humans come along, they must sit in the back of the bus, they must bow and scrape in an offensive Steppin Fetchit fashion. And yet these are people who, from their perspective, were human only a few hours before! It's absurd to believe that people would accept such mistreatment from their fellow man just because they happen to be made of clay. It's like racism brought to the highest degree.

I also thought it was crazy that dittos would go to work in the factories every morning knowing that they would *die* at the end of the day! And it doesn't bother them! Either they are the most elevated philosphers ever, or there's something in the ditto brain which keeps it from worrying. But that just pushes the problem back to the human who gets into the machine to copy himself - would you do it, knowing there was a 50-50 chance you would wake up as a clay person whose lot in life was to work hard for a day and then die? It's crazy.

The idea of the dittos is fascinating, but Brin's extrapolations don't make sense, and his insensitivity to the horrors of ditto slavery is quite disturbing.

Re:gross (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5105837)

Brin knew the parallels to slavery full well. Brin himself is not insensitive to slavery, but the people in this fictional society were. Almost none of them considered dittos to be human or to have rights, though there was an activist group that called for ditto rights.

Brin wrote this society as insensitive to encourage his readers to dislike the society's treatment of dittos. He was using a sort of reverse psychology to encourage good traits in his readers. (There's probably a more accurate phrase for this literary technique, but I don't know it.)

It has to be said... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5101605)

Imagine a beowolf cluster of ditto people!

Earth was quite a few books ago (2, Informative)

jshark (623406) | more than 11 years ago | (#5101611)

The reviewer keeps referring to "Earth" as Brin's "previous book." "Earth" was written in 1991. If you've read nothing of Brin since 1991 then you haven't read too much Brin.

And the sequel, told from the bad guys POV: (1)

msouth (10321) | more than 11 years ago | (#5101618)

Killin' People

"Kil'n People" in the U.K. (2, Informative)

Nick Arnett (39349) | more than 11 years ago | (#5103629)

In the U.K, the paperback version actually is titled "Kil'n People." I've asked David if the title was a deliberate pun, since so many dittos die, but he doesn't seem to want to say if it was or not (which also leaves me wondering if I gave him the idea in the first place). Nobody so far has mentioned the incredible number of puns in the novel, which come increasingly frequently through the end. David did admit that he held back some of the worst puns he imagined.

Nick

Manned Spaceflight for China (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5101626)


Friday January 17, 3:11 PM
China plans first manned space launch in October: official

China plans to launch its first manned space mission in October, an official at the country's space program told AFP.

"There are plans to launch Chopsuey V in October this year," said a research official at China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp., which develops the rocket carriers and the spacecraft.

The official, who would only gives his surname, Cow-Dung, said Friday that he expected the spacemen to resemble fried wontons on their reentry to earth.

"This depends on a lot of things," he said. "But one thing's for sure, a manned ChopsueyV will be launched this year, around October."

The China Daily on Thursday said 14 former rice peasants, each with more than 1,000 hours picking rice experience, had been in training as chinkonauts (Chinese Astronauts) "for years".

Two were sent to Russia's cosmonaut school and all spent a week in April training in the recently returned unmanned Chopsuey IV capsule.

Qi Bang Wang, the general designer of the Chopsuey spacecraft, told the paper the manned craft will "fly for at least one day in space" before burning up on reentry thus killing the brave Chinkonauts.

Up to three chinkonauts are expected to be onboard.

Late last month Shanghai Aerospace Bureau director Lo Fat said the success of Chopsuey IV, which returned to earth on January 5 after a 162-hour mission, opened the door for a manned mission later this year.

China has so far launched four unmanned space craft in its quest to become only the third nation to send a human into orbit, after the United States and the former Soviet Union.

Chinese space officials have said they are working towards a permanently manned space attack system that could reach the USA with Nuclear warheads. Also in the works is possible landing on the moon and an opening of a combination laundry/chinese take out shop.

Poor choice of title... (0)

Cutriss (262920) | more than 11 years ago | (#5101637)

I thought this was a book about rednecks!

Kiln, MS [mapquest.com] - Hometown of Green Bay QB Brett Favre

This isn't troll/flamebait - I come from the area, so I have the right to say that. :)

threshold settings (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5101643)

It would be nice to only read the comments posted by ACs and those that r funny...i could care less what the rest of u karma whores have to say, most of the time ur redudant as fuck and get modded interesting, insightful...i would add a new mod category, the: its already been said BITCH...the trolls r the only original thing left in this place as the stories get duped...

so while i was on a slashdot timeout..... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5101713)

I didn't write this story...its here:
story [xmission.com]

How come everyone today is too much of a pussy to smack their kids around? That's what I want to know: why are parents afraid to beat their kids? When I was a kid and I screwed up, my parents beat my ass. We didn't have a conversation about it. I didn't have a "time out." In fact, I've never even once been grounded in my life. What's the point? Send your kid to his room and make him play video games and read comic books all day? Great idea, why don't you take him to a psychiatrist while you're at it so she can pull some disorder out of her ass to hide the fact that you're a bad parent?

Kids today need a good beating every now and then. If you don't beat your kids when they fall out of line, the next thing you know your son will go off and bang some dude in the ass just out of spite. You tell them to clean their room, they say "no," you smack them. It's simple; it works. Don't listen to these assholes on TV with their bullshit hippy psycho babble; if they had it their way, every child would be raised in a pastel colored room with Philip Glass pumped through the speakers 24 hours a day. Then again, it might not be all that bad because it will make your kids complacent, so it won't be as hard for them to swallow when they realize that they'll be spending the rest of their lives chained to a desk in a cubicle writing reports to make someone else rich.

The problem is that kids today think their opinions matter. By not beating your kids, they get a skewed perspective of reality where they start thinking that they have it rough and that they can get away with dying their hair and listening to Insane Clown Posse. That's where you need to come in and put the law down. To help you, the negligent parent, I've put together a guide to smacking your kids for your convenience (hint: you may want to even print this guide up and hang it on your fridge as a reminder to both you and your kids). Here are some useful techniques:

Five across the eyes. This is a very basic maneuver and usually enough to cover most situations when your child is out of line. Simply put four fingers tightly together and either leave the thumb off to the side or fold it behind the other four fingers. Then smack your kid across the face with the back of your hand. Now this is the tricky part: make sure to snap your wrist just before contact otherwise you won't get a stinging effect. Very important because you don't want to risk letting your kid think you're a pussy.

The sucker punch. Just ask the question "hey, what's that on your shirt?" and when they look down, bust their lip. You need to do this every now and then to keep them guessing. Don't ever let them off the hook. Just because they're not doing anything wrong doesn't mean that they didn't do something wrong earlier that you weren't aware of.

The yard stick. Or for those of you who don't use the arbitrary American system, this is also known as "the meter stick." This is a good general purpose beating because the stick usually doesn't last beyond three or four good whacks--usually enough to send the message.

The one-two shut-the-hell-up. This is priceless when you're shopping and your kid won't shut the hell up: "I'm hungry, I want toys, I need my Insulin..." etc. First smack your kid (the 5 across the eyes technique works). Wait a few seconds for your kid to start crying, then smack your kid again to let him know that you mean business. This usually shuts them up because they see that the amount of crying is proportional to the amount of beatings.

The 2 x 4 / PVC pipe. If you do your job as a parent, this should never have to be administered. This is for heavy duty jobs only (ie. any time your kid comes home and begins a sentence with "she might be pregnant..." or "I can _____ if I want to..." where the blank can be any of the following: smoke, have sex, experiment with drugs, watch Oprah, etc). Usually the threat of this beating is enough to keep your kid from screwing up.

The Dragon Kick. If you're interested in a permanent solution to your child giving you lip about washing the dishes, cleaning his or her room or filing your tax return, then the Dragon kick might be the technique for you. I guarantee that you will only have to ask once after the Dragon kick has been administered.

The skull thump. A quick blow usually dealt to the side or back of the head. Simply flick them in the head with your finger. An alternative is to smack your child up side the head with your palm. Very useful for teaching your child to read when he or she makes a mistake. Hitting your child when he or she is learning builds confidence, or undermines confidence--I can't remember which.

The one-handed chauffeur reach around. A quick reach around while you're driving to smack your kid and his friends too if they disrespect. Swerve the car back and forth for the full effect.

The cane intercept. If you're too old to chase your kid around the house, use the handle of your cane to trip him if he tries to get away. When he gets up, poke him in the head a few times to let him know who's boss.
There you have it. Use these basic techniques to discipline your child if you want him or her to turn out to be a success story like me. Here's how to tell if you've fulfilled your obligations as a parent:

Remember: never take shit from your kids. You make payments on the house, utilities, their clothes, school, and their food. You own them. If they don't like it, they can move out. If you love your kids, love them enough to beat them so that they don't grow up to be idiots.

people don't know the difference between discipline and child abuse.

Excellent book (3, Insightful)

johnburton (21870) | more than 11 years ago | (#5101648)

I read this book a while ago and rate it as one of the best books I've read in a long time. It's got intesting ideas, the characters are likeable (even if 4 of the characters are really the same person) and it's written in a style which makes it really easy to read. I have to admit that the last 25% of the book doesn't quite match up to the promise shown by the start but as a good fun read it's an excellent book. I'd like to read more books set in the same work and hope he's working on some more!

-1 pointless (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5101683)

Why so many book reviews on crappy 3rd rate sci-fi novels?

You might just as well review Spongebob cartoons and Jehovah's Witness' pamphlets. Noone gives a flying fuck.

Sounds like a modern Rex Stout / Nero Wolfe book? (3, Interesting)

hardaker (32597) | more than 11 years ago | (#5101705)

If you like this book, you might check out some really good 40s and 50s detective books about a detective named Nero Wolfe who never leaves his house. Excellent books.

Re:Sounds like a modern Rex Stout / Nero Wolfe boo (1)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 11 years ago | (#5102015)

George Alex Effinger's triology of books When Gravity Fails, A Fire In The Sun and are also interesting, with technology to plug-in personalities and skills. There's even a nod to Nero Wolfe in one of them.

They're defnitely not Happy Fun books, but what hard-boiled PI story ever is?

Re:Sounds like a modern Rex Stout / Nero Wolfe boo (1)

Big Sean O (317186) | more than 11 years ago | (#5102034)

Never leaves his house??

I believe he leaves the house in his very first book ("Fer De Lance") and he and Archie end up going to Montenegro (that's in Yugoslavia, don'cha know) in "The Black Mountain".

Re:Sounds like a modern Rex Stout / Nero Wolfe boo (1)

hardaker (32597) | more than 11 years ago | (#5104287)

Actually, he seems to leave it in nearly every book I agree. The black mountain was by far the most amazing time he left. (though he tried to join the army in "not quite dead enough".

Nero Wolfe and Kiln People (1)

CuriousKangaroo (543170) | more than 11 years ago | (#5102202)

Actually, Nero Wolfe leaves his home quite often [freeservers.com] .

And since this is Slashdot, we may as well mention the cancellation of the Nero Wolfe TV series and the (assuredly doomed) efforts to save it [personalephemera.com] .

Having read Kiln People a while back, I'd say Nero Wolfe would have loved the technology... no more arguing with Archie!

Title Ambiguity (1)

devnullkac (223246) | more than 11 years ago | (#5101752)

When a friend of mine said he was going to loan me a book by this name (about a year ago), I replied "Killin' People? Sounds like a great book!" When he told me what it was reallly about, I never bothered to read it.

The book was good: an original idea (1)

MarkWatson (189759) | more than 11 years ago | (#5101763)

  • If you enjoyed Earth, you will probably also enjoy Kiln People as I did. It's a fair story wrapping interesting ideas in a realistic but fantastic setting. However, it can be a bit long and obtuse.
I really enjoyed the Kiln People, mainly because the plot was very original (as far as I know :-) -the whole ditto idea was very cool.

That said, I read Kiln People after reading Earth (David Brin was kind enough to give me an autographed copy when I visited his house), and reading Earth was an even better experience. I would recommend most of Brin's books (although I never finished either the book of movie of the Postman).

-Mark

House Visit (1)

Esion Modnar (632431) | more than 11 years ago | (#5101840)

...David Brin was kind enough to give me an autographed copy when I visited his house

That and a restraining order?

What the...? (1)

cjpez (148000) | more than 11 years ago | (#5101794)

I read this book a year ago! What gives? I mean, I enjoyed it and all, but it seems to be a little late for doing reviews. What's next, a Fellowship of the Ring review?

Sounds like Nero Wolfe (1)

bigmouth_strikes (224629) | more than 11 years ago | (#5101825)

" Instead, each day he rises and imprints specialized dittos to do his legwork, review the evidence, meet others, and run errands while he stays home, tends his garden..."

This sounds pretty much how TV detective Nero Wolfe worked. And wasn't that much what "Jake and the Fatman" was all about ?`

"and keeps his real body in good physical condition."

Except for that part.

Where I have heard this before? (1)

mdransfield (101993) | more than 11 years ago | (#5101892)

Hasn't Brin lifted the idea of people making short-lived copies of themselves from the Toons in Who Censored Roger Rabbit? (WCRR) by Gary Wolfe?

In that book, the cartoon actors could spawn doppelgangers to act as stunt doubles.

I haven't read Brin's book (although it sounds interesting), and I think it very unlikely that he's lifted more than that idea (WCRR features lethal assaults with custard pies for instance:).

And yes, AFAIK, WCRR was the basis for the Who Framed Roger Rabbit film

Re:Where I have heard this before? (1)

wayne606 (211893) | more than 11 years ago | (#5103697)

Several years ago I had an idea for a story where you could download your mind into an electronic box that could be fitted onto another person, and would use their body in a sort of "puppet" mode. Then later you could upload your experiences again, just like in Kiln People. Things would get interesting when one of the puppet people (who are usually destitute and are doing this for the $$$) goes missing, and the original person has to track him down. Of course I never wrote the story but I was pleasantly surprised to see a similar idea in Kiln People. Good ideas can show up independently in different places so I don't think it's fair to say he lifted the idea from anywhere.

A similar story is "The Terminal Experiment", by Robert J. Sawyer. Somebody creates 3 AI versions of himself, and modifies 2 of them in ways that might alter their sanity, and then they all escape into "the net". I really liked that story.

Re:Where I have heard this before? (1)

StefanJ (88986) | more than 11 years ago | (#5103925)

I was a Kiln People reader / critiquer.

I can testify that Dr. Brin hadn't read the Roger Rabbit novel when he came up with Kil'n People, so the 'dit' concept evolved on its own.

I did mention the parallels it to him!

Re:Where I have heard this before? (1)

markw (243) | more than 11 years ago | (#5104275)

There's no such thing as a new concept. WCRR was 1988. Thunder Agents' Noman [toonopedia.com] first appeared in 1965. I always thought Noman was a great idea, and was reminded of it when I recently picked up the Brin book.

booooooooring! (0)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 11 years ago | (#5102184)

I loved the first two hundred pages of this book. After that, it got incredibly boring. This book is roughly three times longer than it needs to be. I never finished it.

Clever (1)

lokki (585269) | more than 11 years ago | (#5102247)

I like how Brin names one of the characters "Vic Kaolin". Kaolin is a type of very fine clay, only found in Georgia (US, not Russia) used to make china. :)

Re:Clever (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5102471)

Seriously, how is this clever? It involves only going to google, typing in "types of clay" and reading for about 5 minutes.

Re:Clever (1)

markw (243) | more than 11 years ago | (#5104337)

It's [bbc.co.uk]
also used to make the paper the book is made from, and (mixed with morphine) to treat diarrhoea [netdoctor.co.uk] . Not sure whether Brin wanted all these allusions though.

Network, timescale among copies? (1)

otis wildflower (4889) | more than 11 years ago | (#5102693)

I wonder if it'd be more or less interesting if each copy could transceive its experiences in real time remotely to the 'original', this would be particularly useful to a PI..

Also, by the time you're able to ditto a person, surely you can also alter their time perception? Could be handy for stuff like long-distance space travel, but only if you could put the personality matrix in silicon.. But even a slight time perception change would give you more "time" to think about something..

A classic (1)

wytcld (179112) | more than 11 years ago | (#5102979)

One of the few sci-fi books in the last few decades to do the old trick of imagining a radical technology and working through the social consequences. The detective diction is a bit hokey, and has been done better in sci-fi - for instance by Jonathan Lethem in Gun, with Occassional Music [barnesandnoble.com] - but the working out of a radical technological premise hasn't been.

intellectual property/privacy most intersting part (1)

g4dget (579145) | more than 11 years ago | (#5103031)

The most important part of that book, to me, was how that future society dealt with intellectual property and privacy.

Currently, IP is often a criminal matter, and we tie up police and attorneys general with it. In Brin's world, IP claims get enforced through private investigation (not necessarily by the IP owner), civil actions and (possibly stiff) financial penalties. The whole system pays for itself. The same technique can also be applied to computer hacking: private enforcement and civil action, as opposed to the criminal approach we take today.

In terms of privacy, in Brin's world, there is a huge number of networked webcams and people trade in their content. As far as I can tell, that would even be legal today. And using such information, you can reconstruct what people are doing, where they are going, who they are meeting with. That pretty much seems inevitable.

Furthermore, most information that is exchanged between people in a non-personal way is public: business agreements, inventions, contracts, etc. (Presumably, your pillow talk and recorded personal journal would remain private, at least until your death.) You have the option of buying secrecy for a limited term, but you must put the information in escrow with a company that ensures that the information does become public after the agreed term. I think this is what we should do for computer software source code, trade secrets, tax returns, and a lot of other information.

The ending sucked (1)

sam_handelman (519767) | more than 11 years ago | (#5103245)

The beginning of the book is neat. It has mystery, it's fairly funny, the futurism is cool and well (not perfectly, but well) thought out.

The ending of the book, like the ending of Earth (and of the last uplift books, and everything else David Brin has ever written) is pointless mysto-magical claptrap. Once the book starts to wind down it becomes dreadfully predictable.

So, the first half, which the reviewer didn't much care for, is a fine, fun mystery/futuristic novel with an unusual hook (story told from multiple viewpoints which are really one person) which is skillfully used to tell a complex story.

The last 100 pages are something of a letdown, they're predictable and they drag on endlessly.

My advice: read the book until the mystery is solved, and then skip to the last twenty pages for the conclusion.

Misleading Title (1)

SuperMario666 (588666) | more than 11 years ago | (#5103618)

I mean come on:

Kil'n People

I was expecting an O.J. autobiography and all I got was derivative science-fiction.

Re:Misleading Title (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5103725)

racist

Brin does technoculture best (1)

writertype (541679) | more than 11 years ago | (#5103676)

IMO, Brin's strength is his ability to take a single idea (in this case, dittos) and fashion a cohesive society around it. He obviously goes into a lot of thought about how the technology would affect life in general, both in business and recreation.

Such insight occasionally leads to honest-to-goodness (accurate) predictions of social change, such as the description of the proto-WWW in Earth. I would agree that Brin tends to lapse into a sort of cosmic-mystic dogma to tie up loose ends, but that's typical sf.

Every author tries to achieve something profound, whether it's the elegant simplicity of a simple premise explained or a space station blowing up.

Dittos (1)

Daetrin (576516) | more than 11 years ago | (#5103813)

Since several people have asked...

A Ditto is a short term copy of a person. A person will get into a special machine which scans the person, both a physical scan and a detailed mental scan, and uses that information to mold a piece of "clay" into a copy of the person.

I forget exactly where they get the clay from, i believe it is at least in part actual clay with special properties that's dug up in limited areas, but i may be mistaken, but there is certainly other stuff mixed in with it.

There are different qualities of clay you can get, which result in different qualities of dittos. (It may also relate to the type of scanning method used.) Some people will create several dittos of different types depending on what they need to get done during the day.

The Dittos can be colored like a real person, but that goes against the prevailign etiquette. Instead the dittos are color coded to indicate which kind they are, so menials will be solid Red, the highest quality will be Gold, etc.

Most dittos last for about 24 hours, maybe a little longer. If they return home within that time, they and the original can get back into the machine, the ditto will be scanned, and the memories imprinted on the brain of the original.

This is half the method of "controlling," the dittos. Since they have all the knowledge of the original, they obviously know they are going to expire in about a day, so the only way they have of leaving a lasting legacy is to get back home and reimprint. Of course a lot of originals will refuse to do the reimprinting if they suspect the ditto has had a crappy day. The other half is that for all effective purposes the ditto is the same as the original, and having knowingly submitted to the process, the unlucky "self" who ends up as the ditto doesn't usually feel like screwing it's collective self over by not accomplishing it's tasks.

And of course as with any process, there are ocassionaly defects. In this case it leads to "Frankensteins" whose personalities were not copied perfectly and diverge from the original. The results can vary from a ditto that wants to slack off and live what little life it has left (Frankensteins are almost never copied back, and in fact there may be difficulties in doing so) without following it's original goal, to totally psychotic dittos who might go on a rampage.

As for the book itself, i thought it was really good. The ending does tend towards the techno-mystical, but that's not really something i minded. If you were bothered by the end of "Earth" it might bug you though.

Kil'n People? (1)

ffatTony (63354) | more than 11 years ago | (#5104095)

Now, I know I'm not the only one who read that as kil'n people and rapidly openned it to find out where I could get my automatic weapon too.

Everybody wants to work.. Nah nah, not me (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5105360)

All I know is this...
If I were a ditto, only going to live 24 hours, I sure as fuck wouldn't want to go to work for 8 or more of those hours. I don't care if my schmuck primary created me for that purpose. In fact - being the primary, since the dittos think like me, I know they'd just play truant.

I'd be more likely to go to work and send my dittos out on holiday. I know myself well enough to know that only the threat of my future existance being uncomfortable keeps me in a 9-5 job when there are more fun alternatives.

I really don't see dittos wanting to go to work for their primaries (or whatever they're called). Especially with the possiblity that the ditto won't get uploaded at the end of the day.

Ah well. It's an interesting concept, and I think I'll read it for myself.
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