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Sundiver: The Uplift Saga, Book 1 | [David Brin]

Sundiver: The Uplift Saga, Book 1

For nearly a billion years, every known sentient species in the universe has been the result of genetic and cultural guidance - or "uplifting" - by a previously uplifted patron race. Then humans are discovered. Having already uplifted chimps and dolphins, humanity clearly qualifies as an intelligent species, but did they actually evolve their own intelligence, or did some mysterious patron race begin the process, then suddenly abandon Earth?
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Publisher's Summary

David Brin's Uplift novels are among the most thrilling, highly regarded works of contemporary science fiction. Beginning with Sundiver, Brin provides an intriguing exploration of humanity's future in the universe.

For nearly a billion years, every known sentient species in the universe has been the result of genetic and cultural guidance - or "uplifting" - by a previously uplifted patron race. Then humans are discovered. Having already uplifted chimps and dolphins, humanity clearly qualifies as an intelligent species, but did they actually evolve their own intelligence, or did some mysterious patron race begin the process, then suddenly abandon Earth? The answer to this mystery might be as close as our own sun, but it will take a daring dive into its fiery interior to know for sure.

Sundiver begins David Brin's thoughtful, exhilarating exploration of a future filled with an imaginative array of strange alien races, dazzling scientific achievements, and age-old enigmas.

©1980 David Brin; (P)2001 Recorded Books

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3.7 (435 )
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  •  
    Madeleine London, United Kingdom 03-08-10
    Madeleine London, United Kingdom 03-08-10 Member Since 2008

    Audiobook addict.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Very engrossing and well read"

    I downloaded this book on the recommendation of someone who had read the printed version and did so noting some of the earlier criticisms of this particular reading and the narrator.

    I very much enjoyed the book. Brin's universe is one filled with political intrigue and trans-species rivalry. His inventiveness and descriptive powers of an environment as unlikely as the surface of the sun were excellent.

    Like many, many sci-fi novels, I think it could have done with a slightly firmer editor's pen but, given the genre, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

    I also must respectfully disagree with the criticisms of the narrator's reading. Personally, I found it very well executed. I found the voices - which didn't seem silly to me at all - very helpful for keeping the panoply of aliens straight in my head.

    All in all, I was very happy I'd bought and listened to it, and I have bought the other two in the series on the strength of my impressions of the first.

    11 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James M Texarkana, AR, USA 04-16-08
    James M Texarkana, AR, USA 04-16-08
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    "good, but flawed"

    The first 4 hours of this book are pretty bad. Nothing much happens beyond finding out what "uplift" means. The main character, Jacob, goes from one place to another and talks to people and that's about it. To make matters worse Jacob is grief-stricken, making him detatched from humans, and has a kind of splintered personality; so there isn't any character development either. Dull.

    After that things pick up a lot. Aside from the hard S.F. elements, and the world-building, there is a mystery- a pretty good whodunit- and the questions about what the aliens are up to, what's going on with the Solarians, and the revelations about Jacob's character. And some action too.

    The narrator is terrific- especially considering he has to do 3 alien species, a dolphin, and a chimp. Talk about earning your pay!

    That said, the first 4 hours are a real obsticle. Unless you are a Brin fan I'd advise getting "The Uplift War" instead. The "trilogy" is really 3 unconnected books set in the same universe. Execpt that "Startide Rising" is continued in the next "trilogy".

    14 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chad Grand Island, NE, USA 04-19-08
    Chad Grand Island, NE, USA 04-19-08 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A True Classic"

    This is one of Brin's ealierier novels and the story telling is a bit stilted. Part of that is the process of Universe building. The concept of a universe based on Uplift is easy to grasp but hard to explain. The other part is that it was Brin's first published novel. Even a great first novel is a first novel. The story is a good mystery based on scientific possiblilities. The Universe he creates is interesting and engaging as are the characters.

    The narrator does an excellent job of dealing with both human, terrestrial and alien characters. They are clear and recognizable.

    I look forward to listening to the rest of the books.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andrew mORRINSVILLENew Zealand 10-21-08
    Andrew mORRINSVILLENew Zealand 10-21-08
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    "Mind Blowing Concept"

    I remember avidly reading Sundiver and its companion novels when they first came out. I was awestruck and deeply inspired by the ideas presented within the form of the story.
    Years later it has been fun revisiting Sundiver in this audio presentation. The narration is a little dry but gets up to speed as the story progresses. The writing is unexceptional but does the job. Here its the ideas that really matter, a must for fans of Silversberg, Heinlein and Neal Stephenson.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Clyde, NC, USA 04-11-08
    David Clyde, NC, USA 04-11-08 Member Since 2001
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "The very best!"

    If you enjoy AC Clarke, Brim will thrill you. One of the greatest true science fiction writers I have read in the last 25 years.
    His awards through the years are ssoooo well deserved. The more you are aquainted with real science, the more you will love Brim's works!

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark Auckland, New Zealand 12-16-12
    Mark Auckland, New Zealand 12-16-12 Member Since 2012
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    "Great ideas and mystery"
    What made the experience of listening to Sundiver the most enjoyable?

    The unusual nature of the subject material, delivered in a way that made it seem like complete sense. Characters were compelling and complex


    Have you listened to any of George Wilson’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    Wilson has to account for a variety of species and personality types and does a fantastic job. He stays away from caricature and delivers both aliens and humans perfectly.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mike Pitts Farmington, AR USA 10-23-08
    Mike Pitts Farmington, AR USA 10-23-08 Member Since 2008
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    "Extremely Disappointed..."

    I decided to pick this book up based on several of the reviews and the of some great Sci-Fi. With billion-year old science, I figured there were some fantastic possibilities here.

    Although the lack of any real exploration of the advanced science was disappointing, the characters were the true let down. Virtually every character is one-dimensional, often making decisions purely for the benefit of the story. For example, the main antagonist's actions lack any real sense of explanation and the "highly skilled and in control" female lead also crumbles into the protagonist's arms in a totally unbelievable fashion.

    The worst offender is the protagonist himself. The author tries to style him as a n almost James Bond-like lead, capable of almost any feat and always a step ahead of those who surround him. However, the effort falls flat, leaving an ultimately unbelievable character that I disliked more and more as story progressed.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Donald G. Dennis MD 02-13-14
    Donald G. Dennis MD 02-13-14 Member Since 2008

    Walsfeo

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    "A bright light in science fiction"
    Would you listen to Sundiver again? Why?

    Once I've listened to the entire series I'll absolutely listen to this story again.


    What did you like best about this story?

    An excellent start to the Uplift series Sundiver gives the barest glimpse of galactic civilization and the uniqueness of Brin's perspective. These aliens are well worth exploring, but never judge them by your drives and desires.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andreas Henriksson Sweden 01-18-14
    Andreas Henriksson Sweden 01-18-14 Member Since 2013

    Lover of sci-fi and the occasional horror story. Philosophical inclinations. English is my second language.

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    "Vassalage through uplift: book for hard s/f fans"
    Any additional comments?

    I guess I'm too young to have read Brin when his Uplift books were first published. I discovered him through his much more recent Existence and wanted to check out his earlier work. I was not disappointed.

    While the premise of the story revolves around humans "lifting" animal species to sentience, this is a minor subplot of the book. The novel belongs to the hard sci-fi gene, with numerous alien spaces, new technologies, societies and ideas. The reader is early introduced to the concept that most species in the universe was "lifted" and that feudal-like hierarchies exist around the facts about who lifted whom.The ambiguous and controversial position of humanity in this hierarchy is the real kernel of the book and is the theme around which the intrigue revolves.

    The book will appeal to anyone who is into hard sci-fi, like me. While his recent Existence did remind me a bit of writer like Asimov, Sundiver is even closer to Asimov's style of writing and story development. Still, I would say Brin's characters are slightly more developed than the generic male superheroes in Asimov. Most of Brin's personae are actually quite interesting and believable, I particularly enjoy his depictions of alien individuals and their difficulties with human behavior.

    1980 is 34 years ago and while the novel's ideas and premises do not feel dated, some of the gendered interaction does. It strikes me how far contemporary sci-fi has come in depicting gender-equal societies, when a writer like Brin still struggled with this aspect in 1980. Helene deSilva is captain of a starship, but goes irrational and submissive when she falls for the protagonist, a male ubermensch who "couldn't be broken by anything". And when some aliens seem to lack gender, they are simply called "he", even though human authorities prefer to have women as space explorers. Oh, well...

    If you can ignore these gendered tell-tale signs of its age and if you like space opera/hard sci-fi, you will like Sundiver. I am looking forward to reading the other books in the Uplift saga and hope that they will approach the excellence I found in Existence. I would not say Sundiver reaches those heights, but it is an early work by the author and the book is still pretty darn good.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    K. Roberts Chillicothe, Ohio United States 06-28-13
    K. Roberts Chillicothe, Ohio United States 06-28-13 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Enough to tantalise"
    What did you like best about Sundiver? What did you like least?

    While the premise was interesting and I intend, and am looking forward to reading more I found the storyline terribly predictable, while there were a few twists I didn't see, the I found myself frustrated that the protagonist couldn't see the, to me, glaringly obvious answer to the central mystery.
    Still as a scene setter for a more sweeping saga it did well, introducing the politics of the milieu and laying groundwork for future developments


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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  • Roy
    derbyUnited Kingdom
    8/24/09
    Overall
    "Awful.."

    I am a sci fi fan. I have read almost everything from the 60's onwards but somehow missed Sundiver. Now I get my books in audio format to listen to in the car and most are brilliant.

    This one is not. The narrator has the most boring awful voice I have heard. Dull, monotonous, rumbling, unclear and those are his good points. But that would be ok if the story was good. Sadly this is not the case. It is a sad and tired example of 70's/80's sci fi. 2d characters, boring overlong descriptions, totally unrealistic dialog and cringeworthy sex.

    I gave up half way through - something I have never done on an audio book before.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
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