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The Uplift War (The Uplift Saga, Book 3) Mass Market Paperback – August 1, 1995
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Billions of years ago, an alien race known as the Progenitors began the genetically engineered techniques by which non-intelligent creatures are given intelligence by one of the higher races in the galaxy. Once "Uplifted," these creature must serve their patron race before they, in turn, can Uplift other races. Human intelligence, which developed by itself (and brought about the Uplifting of chimpanzees and dolphins), is an affront to the aliens who plan an attack, threatening a human experiment aimed at producing the next Uplift. Such is the premise of this novel, which won the 1988 Hugo Award.
"The Uplift books are as compulsive reading as anything ever published in the genre."
--The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction
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To begin, the plot includes a brief clash in space, moving to the planet- where action alternates between seaport/capital and wilderness. He provides the reader with rotating views of Humans, uplifted chimpanzees (known as Chims), the enemy (the Gubru) and ambassadors of other species (Tymbrimi & Thennanin). At first, the titles and names must be digested, but then the story picks up. Their war is fast-paced, see-sawing between technology and primitive inventions. Occasionally, we look in on the odyssey of two shipwrecked aliens struggling back to the capital. Imagery of the wilderness makes one feel the damp and thick undergrowth, where unseen creatures watch.
Characterization: It is fascinating to learn of the warlike Gubru, their leadership rituals, treatment of clients, and how fate treats them. Surprisingly, they will observe rules of civilized combat. Yet, only late in the book is their complex game plan revealed.
Tymbrimi are known as pranksters, something the invaders forget. I warmly remember the delayed punchline of a joke threading through every chapter. It is ironic, droll, and includes several species. However, they are not the only ones: look for the pipeline stunt.
Fortunately, action involves a small cast, referring to others indirectly. Readers soon invest in favorite characters, looking forward to future appearances. Each changes in ways that surprise- and a few drop out of sight to reappear later.
Writing is imaginative: the psi-broadcasts, the educational prospects of a Galactic Library, and Tymbrimi mental creations (called 'glyphs'), illustrated how unprepared humans might be in a Galactic gathering.
The conclusion impacted me favorably; it built upon activities of the 'Streaker', Startide Rising (Uplift Trilogy Book 2), then showed machinations that greedy races would engage in to grasp the treasure she might carry.
What is especially great about Brin's work is that within the same universe he can tell stylistically different stories. Where Startide Rising was a story of escape and mutiny, Uplift War is a story of rebellion, and proves equally engaging and addictive when compared to its predecessor.
I call this "utopian" sci-fi because Brinn envisions a future where humans stop our present ecological destruction of Earth and advance as a species. It is a refreshing point of view. He sets it on a planet that has suffered an ecological holocaust in the past, which Terrans are trying to restore.
The story of the invasion of Garth and subsequent resistance had me riveted. I can't wait to read the next one in the series.