I'm not exactly sure how to rate this. If a good book has an absolutely terrible ending, how many stars is that? The ending is truly, awfully, horrible. I stopped in disgust with just ~30 pages to go, which I think is a first for me. Is this how the Mass Effect 3 people feel?
Things started off so well. There is a society (a prosperous, ultra-transparent California in 2100 AD), there is a SF concept (people can make temporary, expendable copies of themselves, which can then go off and do work for the original), and Brin explores how the concept would play out in the society (things aren't too bad). All perfectly respectable. In terms of plot Kiln People is an old fashioned detective story, except that multiple copies of the detective are unraveling different threads of the mystery at the same time. Brin's writing is light-hearted and moderately comic, and he is generally optimistic about the future. He's probably a bit too much so, but I think there's still plenty of insight and perception in what he envisions. I was especially enjoying this since the last time I read Brin was as a kid, and it was pleasant to have my childhood tastes confirmed. At least it was until page ~500, when Brin launches off into idiotic metaphysics, pyschic powers, time-travel, cringing tweeness, and any other idiotic idea he can fit in. He then drones on about these things for the last ~100 pages, bringing everything to a terrible, unreadable conclusion. Yes, it's all coming back to me now, that's how Brin's _Earth_ and _Startide_ ended too. I might give Brin another try after another 15 years have passed. Maybe.