Book Review: Sundiver

My next choice for novels on the list was easy: finish the Uplift series.  I had read Sundiver this past summer, and now that I have the next two books sitting on my nightstand – it is time to dive in.

Sundiver is the first Uplift novel, published in 1980.  Like most of Brin’s novels it is hard sci-fi (meaning he employs current scientific ideas and theories in a plausible way), and was the only book of the original trilogy to not win either a Hugo or Nebula.  A basic plot summary with notes follows: (some spoilers)

The novel opens with Jacob Demwa working with dolphins in an effort to further interspecies communications.  He is an aloof man who is, frankly, not very likable.  He is contacted by a friend from his past – Fagin (alien; tree) – an intelligent lifeform from a different planet that asks Jacob to become part of a team investigating the “ghosts” on the Sun.  The team is assembled, consisting of: Helene (human; an attractive and assertive woman, who is also somewhat unlikable), Pila Bubbacub (alien; a “ferocious teddybear” that is a representative of the Galactic Library), Culla (Pring; described as kind of your classic alien), Kepler (human; head of expedition), Dr. Martine (human; psychiatrist), and Peter LaRoque (human; journalist asshole).  They go on these “dives” to witness, research, and communicate with these sun “ghosts” – the descriptions of these locations and creatures is a bit difficult to envision for me, and a tad tedious.  We are slowly given glimpses into galactic politics and how man fits into the picture: there is a Galactic Library that locates and communicates with species from all over the universe, presiding over essentially parent races discovering and influencing the evolution of “uplifted” races.  A loose caste system is based off of the age of your race in regards to how long it has been since it was uplifted. Man is the only race known that was not “uplifted” and much of the novel wrestles with how other races should and do treat man and if man is truly uplifted without a host or has their host disappeared and been erased from the Library.  There is a lot of double-crossing and intrigue within the crew, which is somewhat interesting but for the most part I found it difficult to connect or empathize with any of these characters.  From my understanding the rest of the Uplift novels are set in the same universe, but do not feature any of the same characters.  Unfortunately, this is not a book I enjoyed too much or am too apt to recommend, but my understanding is that the next two books are very good.  I hope this proves to be correct.  So next book up: Startide Rising.


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