Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Introduction to the Uplift Series by David Brin

An interesting introduction to the Uplift universe. There were a lot of good ideas that I trust will be explored further in the rest of the series. In contrast with the works of Arthur C. Clarke [Rendezvous with Rama, 2001], where alien races are sparse and maybe even extinct, in Brin’s universe there are all kinds of aliens and many of them are tetchy. And it’s all very feudal, with many races owing their position to being “uplifted” by patron species. Mankind is an interesting anomaly, seemingly having reached sentience, technology and space travel without ever having a patron and having already begun the process of uplifting chimpanzees and dolphins before ET contact is ever established. This makes humans the equivalent of upstart nouveau riche amongst the aristocracy, attracting the same kinds of disdain and uneasiness.

Discovery of Earth by the ET network leads to some controversies in human culture as well. I was particularly taken with the Darwin vs. von Daniken duality—did humans evolve through natural selection to their current status or were they given a boost up by ancient astronauts who have since disappeared? The feeling of opposing teams is reinforced by the slang for the two sides, Shirts and Skins. The ancient astronaut proponents go for science-fictiony shiny alienish costuming and the Darwin supporters prefer a Neolithic look, sporting animal skins and fetishes. What a wonderfully imaginative use of the von Daniken drivel.

I began the book a bit put off by the amount of technological description of the Sun Ship, but I advise other readers like myself [ie., less interested in the mechanical detail] to keep on reading—the reasons for this emphasis will become apparent by the last few chapters and it does matter to the plot [and, I assume, plots in future books]. An enjoyable read and I look forward to further uplifting adventures.

(Read from March 15 to 18, 2013)

No comments:

Post a Comment