Review | Sundiver by David Brin (Orbit)

Title: SundiverAuthor: David Brin
Publisher: Orbit
Format: Paperback
Pages: 340
Release Date: 18th January 1996

Circling the Sun, under the caverns of Mercury, Expedition Sundiver prepares for the most momentous voyage in our history. A journey into the boiling inferno of the sun, to seek our destiny in the cosmic order of life.

For in a universe in which no species can reach sentience without being 'uplifted' by a patron race, it seems that only mankind has reached for the stars unaided. And now, the greatest mystery of all may be explained…

Sundiver is the first book in David Brin's magnificent Uplift series.

I picked up Sundiver on impulse after hearing that David Brin's Uplift Saga was a good one to read. I subsequently found out that although this is an Uplift book, it's the first and is separated from the main story. I wasn't too bothered about this as I could see whether I enjoyed this one before going on to the rest of the books. However, I was also told that this wasn't as good as the two sequels that garnered much praise. Because of this I put off reading Sundiver for a while, but suddenly had this urge to pick it up. I'm glad I did...

The central concept in Sundiver is an interesting and clever one: all intelligent races in the galaxy have been uplifted to sentience by a parent race, although humanity is the exception to this as it appears they haven't. What they have done though is uplift two of Earth's other animals to sentience, the Dolphin and Chimpanzee, and in doing so have become a parent race themselves. With this done before they were discovered by the other races of the galaxy, humanity have been given a status that some within the galactic society believe they are not worthy of.

This is the backdrop to Sundiver and introduces the universe well, but it also shows that not everyone lives in total harmony. The universe throws up some interesting things - the galactic library that has details of all technologies and discoveries that all races share; the arrangement given to races regarding the planets they live on; the whole arrangement between parent and client races after they have been uplifted. I could go on a long time, but suffice to say that this is a setting that very much appealed to me and gave a great seansawunda.

I've detoured a little here and gone into more detail about the setting than I have about the story. Sundiver is, essentially, an investigation story to find out what exactly is living in the Sun and whether or not it has any relation to humanity's sentience. On the whole I enjoyed it and will quite happily go ahead with the other books in the Uplift series, although I do feel that most of the characters were a little forgettable. Don't get me wrong, they suited the story and worked well with the situations they were put in, but ultimately the setting is by far the most interesting and intriguing aspect of this book.

I would personally recommend that this is one to read - get a feel for the story, the setting, the aliens, but most importantly read it so you know that you've got another series to read that has much praise heaped upon it. Brin is an author I will be reading more of in the future.

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Mad Professah  – (17 December 2009 at 07:14)  

Have you read Startide Rising? It's grrrrrrrrrreat!

jeroen94704  – (17 December 2009 at 15:32)  

The whole uplift series is pretty good. In fact I just finished re-reading the uplift storm trilogy. Still, the whole series has a bit too many loose ends in my view. Or rather, the universe feels like it could have been fleshed out a lot more. Perhaps I just don't know how to word it properly, but both trilogies, while good, left me strangely unsatisfied. I guess I've gotten too used to the "deafening sound of loose ends being tied up" that is characteristic of Peter Hamilton's novels :).

Anonymous –   – (26 January 2011 at 03:35)  
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