Brightness Reef by David Brin

Filed under:Science Fiction,Series,Uncategorized,Uplift — posted by Randolph on May 3, 2014 @ 7:24 pm

Brightness Reef by David Brin

This book takes place on an abandoned world intended to be natural and develop its own races, who would hopefully be available for uplift. A small population of each of six races, in turn, have landed small colonies on the world. Their intent is to devolve and be re-uplifted, and hopefully to avoid attention and possible punishment from the stellar community. Humans are one of the six.

These races have ancient antipathy for each other. And each brings unique skills and histories. They have overcome their differences, and their are pieces of culture of each that has worked its way into the others, yet they do maintain separate communities.

The story revolves around the arrival of a spaceship or renegade humans. Their intent is unknown, and seems sinister. They aren’t an official envoy, so they shouldn’t be here, either.

This story shows us a different side of each of the races, including the humans. It maintains its suspense on the invaders, and latent tension among the six races.

Unfortunately, this book mostly sets up the series and doesn’t resolve much of anything. The story is interesting, and a must read if you’re interested in the Uplift series.

The Uplift War by David Brin

Filed under:Science Fiction,Series,Uplift — posted by Randolph on July 15, 2013 @ 7:07 am

The Uplift War by David Brin

This is the third book in David Brin’s Uplift series. In this book, a Human-Chimp outpost faces invasion by a superior species, the Gubru. The Gubru are after the location of a lost battle fleet found by a dolphin ship (book 2). After discovering that the dolphin ship is lost to the humans, they try to salvage their invasion to find some gain. Their efforts are hampered by a Tymbrimi ambassador and his daughter.

The fight takes a bit of an underground war flair, the Gubru are an occupational force. Some of the Chimps play a major role, as David Brin uses the events to explore their social structure. He shows us some interesting personalities in these chimpanzees.

The book also explores the Tymbrimi, one of the Humans few allies in the galactic confederation of bizarre species. The Tymbrimi have an odd culture that places great value in practical jokes. They use this skill in support of the Human position in the occupation.

Generally, the book is good, but not strong. It should be read as part of the series, but would probably not stand well on its own.

Startide Rising by David Brin

Filed under:Science Fiction,Series,Uplift — posted by Randolph on May 11, 2013 @ 7:27 pm

Startide Rising by David Brin

This is the second book in David Brin’s Uplift Saga. It provides a good introduction to the aliens and galactic politics.

In this story, a small ship, crewed by dolphis, a few humans, and a chimp, stumble across a fleet of derelict starships from a lost race. The prize is valued by many species, and the Earthling crew has to struggle for survival as the powerful races fight over the right to capture them to learn the fleet’s location.

The characters are well developed, including a number of the bad guys who were interesting and creative. The personalities of the dolphins seemed appropriate and well though out. They have unique characteristics that makes them feel a bit alien yet very familiar to us.

There was one weak point that bothered me. One of the bad guys had to explain everything to a person he was about to kill. It felt a lot like a gimmick, ok, it was a gimmick. It was a message to the reader and a minor plot device. I expect better from good authors. This flaw did not really affect the reading in my opinion.

Overall the book moves at a good pace; the writing is good and the story inviting. The story has interesting politics and characters. It is a good read for anyone who mildly likes science fiction.

Sundiver by David Brin

Filed under:Science Fiction,Series,Uplift — posted by Randolph on February 25, 2013 @ 10:07 am

Sundiver by David Brin

David Brin has a degree in astrophysics from the California Institute of Technology, and a Ph.D. in space science from UCSD. He writes hard science fiction, and has won 2 Hugos (Startide Rising 1984, The Uplift War 1987) and 1 Nebula award (Startide Rising). Half of his books are part of the Uplift series for which he is famous.

Sundiver is the first in the Uplift series. It introduces us to the concept of the uplift, which is where a senior species with space travel selects a primitive race. Then through training and genetics, helps that species advance to the point of space travel. That species then owes service to the senior.

In Sundiver, the self-uplifting humans work with a team of aliens to dive into the Sun to explore a new sentient species unknown to the galaxy. The first dive ended in disaster, and a subsequent trip has problems that suggest sabotage. The story has intrigue and borders on being a mystery, except that the reader does not have sufficient backstory information to attempt a solution and must follow the story line.

The book sets up some interesting politics and potential for further stories, evidenced by the large number of books in the series. We are introduced to a new Earth with restrictions on travel, some odd cultural subgroups, and alien zones. Since humanity is self-uplifted, there is some resentment among other species who owe debts for having space travel and being part of a galactic community. We only experience a few aliens, they are unique and well thought out.

I had difficulty understanding the main character, Jacob Demwa. His character was not well defined for me, maybe I missed something. The book opened with him working with some sentient dolphins, when he was invited to join an expedition to study the solar chromosphere. It wasn’t clear why this character was important to the project. In spite of this weakness, the story is well told, the technology is interesting, and the pace is very good.



image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace