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One of the primary benefits of getting an iPad is the ability to read eBooks. I like to read when I can, but carrying around the books tends to be a pain. With the iPad, I have access to millions of books without having to add millions of pounds to my bag. A big win. To take advantage of this newfound reading windfall, I decided to read the “Uplift” series of books by David Brin. What follows are my (spoiler-free) thoughts on the series. The series consists of a prequel short story, three novels, a trilogy and another short story taking place around the time of the end of the trilogy. The stories are all set in a universe where the practice of “uplift”, or raising another species to sentience, is common throughout the galaxy. We humans are newcomers on the galactic scene and, through sheer luck, we happened to gain status by virtue of having uplifted dolphins and chimpanzees. We also are looked upon by most other races in the galaxy as savages or aberrant because humans did not have a patron race… we gained sentience on our own and were not taught the rules and etiquette of how a species is supposed to behave. The term of art for us is “wolfing”. With that bit of information out of the way, here are the stories. “Aficionado” is a story that takes place before Contact. It gives a little background on how humans began the process of uplifting dolphins. It is not necessary, but does show Brin’s deft characterization. “Sundiver” is the story of Jacob Demwa and his investigation of strange happenings with the Sundiver project, a research project involving piloting a ship into our sun. “Startide Rising” takes place 243 years after “Sundiver” and follows the crew of the Streaker, the first ship led and crewed by neo-dolphins and their human and chimpanzee passengers. Approximately three months before the start of the novel, the ship made a discovery of massive importance causing them to be hunted by several other races. When the novel starts, they are hiding on a backwater planet, blocked from leaving by several differing factions. “The Uplift War” takes place shortly after “Startide Rising” on the planet of Garth. Because of the uproar surrounding the discoveries made by the Streaker, this planet populated by humans and nep-chimpanzees is invaded by the bird-like Gubru. The story follows the resistance against the Gubru as well as the internal politics of the Gubru themselves. The next three books, “Brightness Reef”, “Infinity’s Shore”, and “Heaven’s Reach” comprise a trilogy following the inhabitants of the planet Jijo, the further adventures of the crew of the Streaker and events that shake the metaphorical and literal foundations of the galaxy. “Temptation” is a short story taking place on Jijo during the same time as the end of “Heaven’s Reach”. Like “Afficianado”, it is not necessary to read, but is short and available online on Brin’s website for free. So, those are the books. How did i like them? I thought they were well written in a fully realized universe. The rules of the universe were internally consistent throughout. The aliens were truly alien with complex characterizations as well as differentiation between individuals of each species. Brin likes to start things in medias res, or “in the middle of things”. The characters already have relationships, adventures and general stuff that happened off-screen before the first page of the story giving further weight to the idea that there is more going on than what you are being shown and, if only you had the time, you could peek behind that other curtain and there would be more adventure, mystery, politics and drama. With all those things i liked about the books, there are a couple of things I did not like. Specifically in the Uplift Trilogy, Brin provides a lot of backstory that slows down the action. He also does this in a repetitive fashion which is understandable given there are three different books and you want to make sure people who picked up book two without reading book one aren’t completely lost, but it is still frustrating. He also does this for things that happened off-stage before the beginning of the book. As an example, there’s a large gap of events between the end of “Startide Rising” and the beginning of “Brightness Reef” where many things happened to the Streaker. Eventually, through internal dialog and reflection, all of these things are explained in a fair amount of detail. If we are going to learn all about what happened through several characters’ description of the events anyway, why not just show those things on stage, as it were. Also, none of the books involving the Streaker seem to have a proper denouement. To compare it to Star Wars, it’s as if the story ended when Han shot Vader’s ship and told Luke “You’re all clear kid”. Yeah, I know what should happen, but I want to see it actually happen. I’ve been following these characters for a couple thousand pages, let me see them complete their mission, have a party and raise a glass to missing comrades. My final verdict: absolutely read “Sundiver”. It is a great story and well worth the time. “The Uplift War” is very good and should stand on its own. The other four books are very well conceived, but the execution is not as precise as I would have liked. They are good, but not something I would unreservedly recommend.