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Contacting Aliens: An Illustrated Guide to David Brin's Uplift Universe Paperback – June 25, 2002

3.9 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Frequently Bought Together

  • Contacting Aliens: An Illustrated Guide to David Brin's Uplift Universe
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  • Heaven's Reach (The Second Uplift Trilogy #3)
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Hugo and Nebula award-winning author David Brin teams up with illustrator Kevin Lenagh to offer Contacting Aliens: An Illustrated Guide to David Brin's Uplift Universe, the definitive guide for any fan of the Uplift series or, as Brin would have it, a training handbook for Terragen Field Agents. From biological and psychological descriptions of aliens (the Thennanin have "gill-like breathing slits," the Hoon are "stodgy pencil-pushers") to clan alliances and the 12 official languages of Galactic society, this volume overflows with Uplift information, not to mention humor and imagination.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Brin's Uplift Universe is one of the major hard-sf sagas distinguished by world building of the highest order and as imaginative an array of nonhuman species as has ever been committed to paper. Here we have an illustration by Lenagh of a representative member of each of those species alongside Brin's physical, cultural, and technological descriptions, which include their clan affiliations and the date and agent of their Uplift. In the tradition of such guides, Contacting Aliens purports to be a guide for human travelers in the Uplift Universe, and it induces the necessary suspension of disbelief respectably enough. Lenagh's artwork occasionally smacks of Star Wars, especially in the depiction of the Mos Eisley cantina, but thousands of passionate Uplift readers probably won't mind that much if at all. Roland Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam (June 25, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553377965
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553377965
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #999,083 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Rodney Meek VINE VOICE on January 7, 2003
Format: Paperback
If you're like me and sometimes you have trouble keeping track of which species is which in David Brin's Uplift Saga, then this book will prove to be a valuable resource. All of the major players are listed (including those so prominently featured in the "Heaven's Reach" trilogy), along with their patrons and clients, which is very helpful in sorting out the various allegiances and alliances. Most of the entries are quite short, just giving a brief description of the physical appearances of the races, how they were uplifted and what unique gifts were cultivated, and their role or fate in galactic society. Many patrons that have retired or are being urged in that direction by their juniors are included here, along with some races that are now extinct.
The artwork is not phenomenal like you might get from, say, Jim Burns or some of today's prominent artists from graphic novels, but it's got a sly and impudent sense of humor in my opinion. This fits well with the overall tone of the book, which purports to be a field guide for agents of the Terran Clan, i.e. good ol' Mother Earth. So the text often offers up tips on which races are friendly to humans, which want to destroy us, and which are indifferent, and provides hints on how to deal with some of these. (Of a particularly violent and prosletyzing race of religious zealots, the book notes that an agent's only two options are to flee or "to convert [them] to some less noxious creed".)
Also, there are some interesting "real world" web resources listed at the back of the book.
As a general refesher for the fan of Brin's work, this works well, but it's not likely to succeed in attracting new readers to the saga. Really, it's a solid supplement to the accumulated material of the novels and can be of some use, but it's not critical to own.
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To anyone that is a fan of Brin's books (I'm one, I've read them all, and re-read most several times) this is a completist view that adds visuals and some details to a picture already in their mind. To anyone else (my wife, who I've been trying to get to read his books forever) it is a bewildering index to things that never were, displayed in a way that makes sure you won't care.
David, if you're reading this...I know your name was on the book, but I'm pretty certain you were only tangentially involved in this. I liked the book, but only cause I loved your books. Write some more for us, would you?`
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Format: Paperback
Full of intriguing trivia about the races of the Five Galaxies, but not well edited. Full of minor contradictions and glitches, any one of which is easily ignored, but together they become annoying. Plus, the illustrations aren't very good. I would have willingly paid more for for a book with QUALITY pics, like those in Barlowe's Guide To Extra-Terrestrials (sadly, out of print). Get it if you're already a Brin fan; if you're not, don't bother, get Sundiver or Stardtide Rising instead.
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If you're a Sci-Fi geek, as I am, and haven't read Mr. Brin's Uplift Novels, you're missing out, and should immerse yourself in this tasty bit of Fiction. Mr. Brin is truly brilliant, is a very skilled story-teller, and is extremely knowledgeable in diverse fields of science. This reflects in his Uplift series of novels very well. His characters are all well developed, emotionally, and they leave you with a desire for more. There is a thread of environmentalism running throughout these novels : Respect Life. Respect Nature. Respect Knowledge. Live and Let Live. . Contacting Aliens: An Illustrated Guide... is a very handy tool in helping to imagine his complex and diverse Uplift Universe. I'd recommend starting with "Sundiver" and moving through the rest of the novels to "Heaven's Reach", and beyond. It might not be everyone's cup of chamomile, so to speak, but it certainly was mine. I'm hoping that there will be a lot more coming.
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Format: Paperback
The book contains illustrations and background history of the major and minor species in the Uplift Universe. The drawings are black-and-white pencil sketches done in a slightly humorous manner. They're accompanied by short descriptions of the species, including their history, traits, clan affiliation, patron/species, etc. The writings a bit perfunctory - the author's not trying to tell a story - but I found it all extremely useful.

I'm glad I had the book before starting the Uplift series as it help me to visualize what can be rather odd species. These sketches alone saved me time; lots of time not having to think "Are these the bearlike bureaucrats or the asparagus vegetable philosophers?" The capsule summaries gave me enough background to satisfy those niggling little "what's their story?" questions.

I subtracted one star because I would've preferred a flashier "dramatic" presentation in the illustrations and I think a more ambitious author might have tied the entries together more (the guide's like a dictionary). A five-star production, in other words, would've included elegant writing and colorful illustrations.

But this is an illustrated field guide, and it made no secret about that. Very useful, nonetheless.
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By Robertson on November 17, 2014
Format: Paperback
This book was very helpful when reading the series. It reminded me of the kind of appendix you used to find in older science fiction books, such as Dune, where you could look things up to help you understand the setting, except that this is a whole book, not just an appendix. It took the information from the Uplift series and put it into an organized format, making many aspects easier to visualize, such as the client-patron relationships and the institutes. It also has a great timeline. Essential if you are reading the series.
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