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Sundiver (The Uplift Saga, Book 1) Mass Market Paperback – January 1, 1985
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Unlike the first three books in the saga, the second three books DO form a series. The first of this trilogy, "Brightness Reef," picks up with yet another totally independent plotline and brand new characters. However, it does contain a central character who ties the first three books into this set. Unfortunately, Brin doesn't say, specifically, who that character is until the very end of the book. Even worse, the last time the character was used was so far back in the saga that it's hard to remember anything about him. The remaining two books, "Infinity's Shore" and "Heaven's Reach," continue sequentially from the first and form a tightly knit trilogy with no breaks in time.
None of these books is "happy" or "light reading." For the most part, they're all intense, heavily detailed and fully characterized books. "Sundiver" is the least "heavy" and most lacking in the realistic feel of the rest of the books.Read more ›
This is a detective story. At first I thought this was going to be a hard SF novel. It's not. For most of the book, we follow the protagonist, Jacob Demwa, as he unravels the mystery is "who killed the intelligent chimp in the sunship" and other related riddles. So while we visit Mercury, the Sun, and an entire universe of Brin's imagined future, the plot rests on a couple of tentpole scenes where the protagonist solves the mystery and accuses the criminal. Brin seems to acknowledge the legacy of this device when he refers to one climactic scene as an "Agatha Christie" turn of events.
It's easy to imagine why Brin, at the beginning of a career, would choose such a device. A detective story is an incredibly sturdy workhorse. The detective story's author can introduce a variety of inventions along the detective's quest for clues. In this case, the inventions are a unique future history, galactic structure, alien races, and hard science fiction. And all these inventions are neatly worked into the mystery and its solving.
Unfortunately, this idea only succeeds if you've got an interesting mystery. As a reader, Brin never really courted me into curiosity or concern. Characters are flat. Events and clues work with the plot in oblique angles. We follow, for example, Jacob Demwa to Mercury and beyond but for a good chunk of the novel, no-one really tells him why he's been invited.Read more ›
Many cite "Startide Rising" as Brin's masterpiece. While "Startide" is a great book (Earth is actually my favorite book written by Brin), I do not think that Sundiver is a "weaker" effort. The two books are apples and oranges. One, "Sundiver," is essentially a mystery. The other, "Startide Rising," is more of an action-adventure book. I recommend them both. "Sundiver" really sets the context for "Startide" nicely.
"Sundiver" is a great mystery that kept me guessing until the end. It is filled with the kind of invention and personal treachery/heroics that make the Uplift series great. Brin has made a visionary world in his two great series.
I recommend this book.
In Brin's story, humanity has made contact with other races throughout the Universe, and found that they are a rare breed: a race which seemed to have developed on its own. Most of the other races they have met can credit their evolution to another race helping them along, a process known as Uplift. Humanity, however, is something of an oddity: an "orphaned" race whose origins are unknown. That doesn't stop them from taking part in Uplift, however. As we learn early on, the human race has undertaken the charge of Uplifting two other Earth races: dolphins and chimpanzees. In the course of the novel, the reader meets examples of both races which have been helped along by humans.
The story centers around a ship called "Sundiver." As its name suggests, the ship's main purpose is to explore the sun. Early on we learn that it has discovered a form of life living within Sol's chromosphere, something which also seems to be previously undocumented elsewhere in the Universe. The question of humanity's Patrons is raised, and many anicent alien races seem at least a little chagrined that this upstart race is discovering more than their collected knowledge can reveal.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I am trying to read all of the Nebula Award Winning Novels. I got up to Startide Rising by David Brin. Unfortunately, that book is the second in a series. Read morePublished 18 days ago by Melanie D. Typaldos
This book has some interesting space opera concepts, like a big intergalactic community teeming with aliens with a complicated hierarchy and system of patronage and clientage, and... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Robert M.
Brilliant ideas. Kind of flat characterization. Love the ideas, though!Published 1 month ago by Stone
I agree with Willaim C Mead and Sci-fi Pony in their reviews. David Brin is a very competent writer and this novel is fine in itself, but it did not strike a chord with me. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Joe Boudreault
I read this book first 30 years ago and decided to re-read it on vacation, where I could devote proper time to it. Read morePublished 3 months ago by George Richard
This book, when I first read it many (many) years ago was such a revelation that I was lost in a fog for several days after finishing it. Read morePublished 3 months ago by D. Bryant