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4.2 out of 5 stars
Startide Rising
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In 'Startide Rising,' David Brin imagines a vast universe full of extra terrestrials and rich histories. The human and dolphin protagonists of the novel find themselves caught within a galactic war, but the plot focuses on the more intimate struggles of the starship crew and their exploration of a mysterious water world. Mr. Brin infuses his book with a motley cast of likeable characters, interesting plot twists, and some genuinely tense fight scenes. This excellent combination makes 'Startide Rising,' if not a real classic, a fun and fast-paced adventure novel well worth reading.
The novel's ending, however, leaves several major plot points hanging (no doubt concluded in subsequent novels) and diminishes the intelligence of the villains in favor of a happy ending. Despite these minor flaws, 'Startide Rising' remains a compelling and enjoyable read -- especially if you're looking for a good sci-fi novel to relax with at the beach.
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on June 11, 2004
Reading Startide Rising was as much fun as I have had with a Science Fiction novel. It is fast paced as well as epic in scope, with interesting charactors. I won't try to summarize the plot here, many of the other reviews have done this already.
It can certainly be read as a stand alone novel, however both Uplift Trilogies are worth reading (the only average book in the series was Sundiver - the first, which takes place generations before the rest of the novels).
I loved this book when I was 16 and I love it now that I am slugging through my mid thirties!
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on April 22, 2004
David Brin never ceases to amaze me. His creations are so detailed that you feel like you are there experiencing them. In "Startide Rising" he creates a breathtaking universe where humans are the bastard sons. It is a universe where every alien race is 'uplifted' to sentience. Humans are the only ones that haven't been. Most of the five galaxies hate us because of it. We have our friends, but they still look at us as if we're the little 'wolfling' children that haven't grown old enough to leave the block. We humans have in turn uplifted Chimpanzees and Dolphins.
The book is about a Dolphin commanded starship that discovers a clue to our Terran heritage that any of our enemies would love to get their hands on. The information accidentally leaks and the Streaker goes into hiding with enormous fleets following it's every move. The ship land on the water world of Kithrup. Geological, galactic political, and inter-ship political problems ensue with big fights strewn through out.
This is a very informed book that is detailed and entertaining at the same time. You don't have to read "Sundiver" before reading this book, but "Sundiver" does explain the politics a little better. I suggest everyone read this because it is way too good to pass up. It did win both the Hugo and the Nebula awards. I give it five stars.
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on April 5, 2004
David Brin has invented an interesting universe in which to set his "Uplift" (also known as "Earthclan") series. It is a crowded universe - sort of Star Wars-esque in its level of weird and wonderful inhabitants. The variety arises from a tradition of Uplift, wherein a sentient species genetically modifies another species so it can attain sentience as well. The uplifted species' debt: 100,000 years of indentured servitude! The added wrinkle: every species that is currently uplifting others was itself uplifted in the distant past. This is an ancient universe where innovation consists solely of hunting through the galactic library looking for forgotten information.
Humanity enters this universe with two distinct differences: an abhorance of slavery, and a skill at innovation that is alarming to the pompous patron races of the galaxy. Mankind has uplifted two species: dolphins and chimps. They have set them free as equals (instead of demanding the 100,000 years of slavery), further appalling the elder races. However, all of this information is background - it's a testament to Brin's skill that he weaves all this background into the story (along with the introduction of numerous extraterrestrial races) without specifically devoting long passages to it.
The main plot - a dolphin-crewed ship (along with a few human overseers) has discovered a derelict fleet. As they try to head back to Earth with the info, they are ambushed by many E.T.'s intent on stealing their find. The ship seeks refuge on a water-covered planet as the crew tries to make repairs and escape their pursuers (who battle each other in space overhead). This is just the start of the adventure, however, and Brin's great skill in this book is to take a very complex universe, and keep adding more and more layers of complexity - the refuge planet is not all it seems, for example, nor are all the dolpihin crewmembers, many of whom start to crack under the pressure.
It's hard to describe why this book is so good without going into technical details. Therefore, I'll just say it's a great science fiction achievement, and well-deserving of all the awards it's received.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 23, 2004
Halfway through this book I simply lost interest in dolphin "poetry" and the presumably exciting struggles of the crashed crew and put the book down (quite likely never to return to it).
The portions of the book dealing with the ET races were quite fun with lots of varied imagery and clever social/racial constructions but when the attention of the story would shift back to the humans/dolphins things ground ever slower and became less colorful and more pedestrian and cliche.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 2, 2004
This is the second volume of Brin's Uplift Trilogy. The first volume, Sundiver, is only notable for introducing the concept of the Uplift - the idea that a scientifically advanced race will eventually learn enough about genetic engineering that they'll be able to "uplift" other species to higher levels of intelligence. An entire galactic civilization is presented wherein uplift is a common practice, and a species' status is based on the number of "client" races they have successfully uplifted.
Startide Rising features a spaceship crewed primarily by dolphins, although there are some men and a chimpanzee scientist also on board. This particular crew has accidentally stumbled upon an ancient secret that will shake galactic politics to its foundations, although they don't really understand the implications themselves. What is clear is that a wild assortment of alien races are after this ship, and have forced it to land on an out of the way planet in order to take what they want.
Unlike Sundiver, which stood pretty much on its own, this book is explicitly part of a larger series. Lots of questions about an overall galactic conflict are never resolved in this novel and while a complete story is told, there is no shortage of loose ends that could be picked up in further sequels, notably volume three, The Uplift War. Perhaps the greatest shortcoming of this installment is that Brin seems satisfied to develop the ideas introduced in Sundiver, rather than present more exciting new concepts.
And while Brin's ideas and imagination are exceptional, the same can't be said about his writing, which still shows flaws in this, only his second novel. In particular, his tendency to overcomplicate gets away from him here, causing him to create too many characters and lose focus on the essential pieces of his story. He tries to control this problem through the technique of breaking the novel into over 100 subchapters, each named after the character whose point of view we are seeing. This not only helps us keep track of the different plot threads that each character is pursuing, but also keeps this longish novel engaging even through the long middle section. But the characters themselves are not very memorable - perhaps one should give Brin credit for being able to give a dolphin any personality at all, and never mind a two-dimensional one. And let's be honest, if you want character-driven literature, you're probably not reading sci-fi/fantasy anyway. Still, while this book is recommended as topnotch escapism, don't let its awards fool you into expecting anything more from it.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 6, 2003
Despite the fact that I wasn't terribly impressed with Sundiver, I read the sequel Startide Rising. You could review this book with two words: "talking dolphins." To be fair however, the dolphins were actually pretty interesting. In Startide Rising we return to the universe Brin has created where races "Uplift" promising species by genetically engineering their intelligence. Lo and behold the simple wolfling humans (actually dolphins for the most part in a ship full of water, good grief) have discovered the missing Progenitors, the supposed parent race of everyone else. At any rate, hilarity ensues as the dolphins crash land on a watery planet (lucky) and attempt to hide while the advanced races fight it out for who gets to capture the clever dolphins and learn the secret of the Progenitors.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 10, 2003
The thing that really made me love this book was the chapter that introduced the dolphin captain, Creikeiki. In a few short pages, Brin paints a picture of a weary, courageous leader, a poet, a genius, a wise and gentle soul. By the end of the chapter I loved Creideiki more than I've cared about most other fictional characters, with the possible exceptions of the Opera Ghost and Ender Wiggin.
Other than that, the novel is a very good sci-fi action story. Lost in space, out-of-order and under seige, out-gunned, out-numbered, etc. It's a fun read and all the other characters are three-dimensional and well-developed. I'd give it five stars if the rest of the writing was as fantastic as that first chapter about Creideiki, but it's still high-quality. Brin is a rising star in the world of science ficiton.
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on February 14, 2003
The first uplift trilogy isn't. Unilike the second trilogy, all the books in the first stand on their own. Sundiver is a forgettable detective SciFi novel. Startide rising is really the first book of this series, and is in fact the only required reading for the sluggish second trilogy. The Uplift War is a spectacular adventure book that stands on its own and may be more fun to read than Star Tide Rising, but Star Tide Rising is certainly a more important book. Fun, funny, though provoking, alien, and intelligent, it is certainly a must read for anyone who enjoys, claims to understand or still ignores Science Fiction.
Above all, Startide Rising has the most gratifying ending of any book, Science Fiction or otherwise, that I have ever read.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 7, 2003
Again I feel David Brin ideas are great but things are never well explained plus he never tells the whole story. I feel he should back his ideas with certain facts instead of broad and vague statements. An example, he should described and explained how dolphins and chimps started to learn the speech that we humans had understood for centuries, instead of assuming that they just learned it automatically through scienitific research. Explaining the process in detail would have peek my interest and kept me interested.
The characters lacked depth and there were way too many to keep track of. I hated to look at the begining of the book each time he mentioned a character or references he had invented. I was told his newer books of this series are alot better maybe I'll read them because of his incredible imagination.
I feel he should be focused on one direction instead of compiling it alot of unnecessary components of useless things that had nothing to due with story. In my opinion, he added alot of ideas for filler space because the plot was a little weak. I usually rate books a 5 if I know I'll read it again and this book isn't one of them.
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