The Uplift War (A Bantam Spectra Book)

by David Brin

Paperback, 1996



Call number




Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group (1996), Paperback


Earth has been allowed to colonize the planet Garth only because its previous occupants went berserk and wiped out virtually all life there. But now humans, chimps, and their alien allies on Garth are being held hostage in a conflict that could affect the fate of the entire Five Galaxies.

User reviews

LibraryThing member isabelx
Fiben had often wondered how much of the popularity of the thunder dance came from innate, inherited feelings of brontophilia and how much from the well-known fact that fallow, unmodified chimps in the jungles of Earth were observed to “dance” in some crude fashion during lightning storms. He
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suspected that a lot of neo-chimpanzee “tradition” came from elaborating on the publicized behavior of their unmodified cousins.
Like many college-trained chims, Fiben liked to think he was too sophisticated for such simple-minded ancestor worship. And generally he did prefer Bach or whale songs to simulated thunder.
And yet there were times, alone in his apartment, when he would pull a tape by the Fulminates out of a drawer, put on the headphones, and try to see how much pounding his skull could take without splitting open. Here, under the driving amplifiers, he couldn’t help feeling a thrill” run up his spine as “lightning” bolted across the room and the beating drums rocked patrons, furniture, and fixtures alike.

"Startide Rising" ended with the dolphin-crewed spaceship Streaker on the run from various warring Galactic races who are all desperate to win possession of the ship and its discoveries. As this book opens, the human and neo-chimpanzee inhabitants of Garth are expecting to be invaded at any moment, as one of the Galactic species has decided to take Garth hostage in an attempt to force the Terragen Council to hand over Streaker's discoveries. With diplomats and other visiting aliens fleeing the planet in droves, the Tymbrini ambassador Uthacalthing and his daughter Athaclena have decided to stay. The Tymbrini are the Terrans closest allies, and are known for their capricious sense of humour and Ambassador Uthacalthing seems to have some devious ploy in mind when he sets off into the wilds of Garth with the ambassador of a species less friendly to Terra in tow.

Garth is a planet that suffered ecological disaster when a newly uplifted predator species who had been granted a lease on the planet reverted to savagery and ran amok, wiping out all the larger native wildlife (although old legends say that some of the mysterious Garthlings may survive in out of the way areas). Now the Galactic Civilisation has leased Garth to the Terrans, who are trying to rebuild the shattered ecology, introducing Terran plants and animals to fill empty ecological niches. The Galactics chose the Terrans for this because of the unusual amount of biodiversity on Earth compared to other planets, but the amount of biodiversity also worries the Galactics, who got the humans to sign an agreement saying that they won't start uplifting any other species.

The uplift of chimpanzees is an on-going process and although humans govern their client species with a light hand compared to the other Galactics, breeding rights are tightly controlled. Only the coveted white card allows unlimited breeding and an unofficial class system has developed among the chimpanzees based on which colour card they have been allocated, and the ethics of uplift are one of the major themes of this novel.
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LibraryThing member wenestvedt
I really enjoyed this novel. Its premise is a future society where aliens have been encountered and found already engaged in a hierarchy of races who have "uplifted" each in turn into sentience. Humans, uplifting chimps and dolphins, struggle to take their full role among the other spacefaring
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LibraryThing member leld
Took me a bit to get into the story, but once I did I was engrossed. Well developed characters. An interesting look at, to use a title of his, "otherness".
LibraryThing member clong
I enjoyed this book very much. Like Startide Rising, it offers an ambitious plot that develops several related storylines that are ultimately brought together to reach a satisfying conclusion. The best things about the book are the well developed non-human characters: the neo-chimps, the invading
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bird-like Gubru aliens, and the two important Tymbrimi alien characters. Brin does a very good job of making the aliens profoundly different from humans in interesting yet reasonably plausible ways.

As in Startide Rising, I found the human characters to be less compelling and less sympathetic. The romance between Robert O'Neagle and the Tymbrimi Athaclena didn't really work for me, and the gung-ho "shoot 'em up, blow 'em up" human marine major felt like a caricature. Still, I give this a 9/10 enjoyability rating and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to any scifi fan. I would also point out that this story is only loosely related to the Sundiver story told in the first Uplift book; it certainly can be read out of series order.
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LibraryThing member clarient
The whole universe has been following the same pattern for quite some time - be Uplifted to sentient intelligence by your parent race, find yourself in debt to them for untold years to pay off an unimaginable sum, and then set about Uplifting your own race so that somebody can owe you that same
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Well nobody told the humans that was how it worked, so when Man evolves itself into an intelligent species without any knowledge or assistance, quite a few alien races are more than a bit put off. The existence of a powerful new civilization without the burden of debt throws the universe into an uproar, and there are some who are determined to put the cheeky, upstart Humans in their place.

An exciting book with a plot that moves on an interstellar scale. Be prepared to follow up with Brin's other Uplift Series novels.
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LibraryThing member lafincoff
One of my favorites. Read it in high school the first time. Have read it at least six times. The book has a savory taste for me.

The most recent reading, finishing it off tonight, I had just completed a course in Latin American history, and was associating the content of the book to the neocolonial
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patterns some historians use to interpret Latin American history. The book is always stimulating.

Comparing works by Che Guevarra to the client/patron elements in the book on this read. Considering the ideas of national sovereignity and social contract, as depicted in Brin's Uplift universe Galatic Civilization. Just a good read every couple years, always associable with something fresh.
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LibraryThing member DirtPriest
I have a sneaky suspicion that this Uplift Saga will be better than the sum of it's parts, like the old Shannara books. This was another long story about neo-chimpanzees trying to survive in an isolated mountain region against overwhelming odds. The Gubru birdlike aliens were a great and well
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thought out enemy and I really enjoyed the guerilla/gorilla pun aspect. The Tymbrimi aliens are one of the few 'eatees' that are allied with the 'wolfling' humans and their clan, and the Tymbrimi enjoy a good joke. As in Startide Rising, the characters are very well developed and the situations are pretty reasonable. Brin does a great job showing the reader human actions and thoughts through very alien minds, which is nice. All in all, these have been great stories with incredible but yet realistic characters so far, and trying to describe the thoughts and feelings of a fully sentient dolphin or chimp can't be easy. Although, what can you compare his story against in reality. I bet there is more of the same in the second trilogy. Oh yeah-his Earth book is one of the most outstanding SF books ever and predicted many technologies we have today. If you are a visiting NASA lecturer you might have an inside track on new ideas, but I think the SF author 'predicting the future of technology' idea is more like 'the techs that go into engineering fields all read SF novels' and that's where they get their ideas. But hey, as long as William Shatner has a flip open cell phone that plays the old Star Trek chime as Denny Crain (!) on Boston Legal, I don't care which way that argument goes. Now back to the very emotionally involved Flags of our Fathers...
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LibraryThing member DrBrewhaha
An intriguing world where life forms are raised to sentience over eons of time under the direction of patron races. Although Brin has created an interesting world, the Uplift War can be plodding at times. The story, which was very good, after could have been written in about 300 fewer pages. It
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seemed also to there were many odd tangents built in to the story.
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LibraryThing member andrewdotcoza
For me, an interesting but unglamourous introduction to David Brin. His universe is very compelling and his aliens are both convincing an imaginative. Most notable, however, is the bizarre political world existent in the Uplift Universe. It smells very strongly of colonialism and bossism, and is
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never really explored in depth. I was left pondering the question of whether this is a deadpan ironic commentary in the style of Starship Troopers, or whether this highly educated author has fallen into a very natural human chauvinism. If the former is true, I must question whether he did enough to make his pastiche accessible to his audience.

The book reads well and is great for light entertainment. Brin, however, has an irritating habit of inserting the occasional highly unusual word in a manner that suggests that he is either showing off his vocabulary or his proficiency with a thesaurus. This makes the book seem slightly stilted.

That said, my appetite is whetted and the author definitely has done enough to make me explore more books in the Uplift series.
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LibraryThing member veracite
Against all common sense, I love this book to death. It's a comfort re-read.
LibraryThing member Nodosaurus
This is the third book in David Brin's Uplift series. In this book, a Human-Chimp outpost faces invasion by a superior species, the Gubru. The Gubru are after the location of a lost battle fleet found by a dolphin ship (book 2). After discovering that the dolphin ship is lost to the humans, they
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try to salvage their invasion to find some gain. Their efforts are hampered by a Tymbrimi ambassador and his daughter.

The fight takes a bit of an underground war flair, the Gubru are an occupational force. Some of the Chimps play a major role, as David Brin uses the events to explore their social structure. He shows us some interesting personalities in these chimpanzees.

The book also explores the Tymbrimi, one of the Humans few allies in the galactic confederation of bizarre species. The Tymbrimi have an odd culture that places great value in practical jokes. They use this skill in support of the Human position in the occupation.

Generally, the book is good, but not strong. It should be read as part of the series, but would probably not stand well on its own.
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LibraryThing member superant
This is one of my favorite books of all time. Let me just mention some of the topics touched on in this book: relations between humans and chimps and other species; relations between humans and their alien allies; alien invasion; warfare technology; the Galactic Library; interstellar travel;
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blockading and breaking blockades in space; romantic desire between non-physically compatible species; ecology of alien planets; deception of allies and allies; how communication is difficult between alien species; primitive armaments versus futuristic technology; and how telling a lie can sometimes lead to truth.

This book has the feature I most often appreciate in sci-fi, the intercultural relations between alien species. The main characters are: Fiben Bolger, the neo-chimp who has been uplifted and is a space pilot and colonial fighter; a Tymbrimi young female named Athaclena; her father, Uthacalthing, Kault the Thennanin; the human Robert. As the Gubru invade the human/neo-chim colony planet of Garth, the main characters must take to the hills and organize an armed resistance to the invaders.

This book has that rare feature of containing sex that is essential to the plot. We have heard so much of the argument that sex in art should be justified by importance to story. This is actually the only book or other piece of art, I can think of, where the sex portrayed is actually important to the storyline of uplift of neo-chims.

Now, who will enjoy this story. Readers who are interested in military fiction. But, the warfare is very high level and strategic, without much physical fighting on the page. The fact and facts about Galactic aliens is the largest component of this book. So, if you don't enjoy vast amounts of information about alien races, stay away from this book. For me, this is Brin's best book, and I most enjoy his books.
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LibraryThing member Phrim
The Uplift War is another fantastic entry in the space opera genre by David Brin, even if the parts of the book that actually occur in space is limited. The author presents a wide variety of interesting and likable characters, from the human, alien, and (intelligent) chimpanzee populations. The
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nonhuman characters feel strange, but relatable, and Brin avoids the trap of making some of his characters too potent, as was the case to some extent in his previous books. The plot is large in scope (even without the occasional mentions of greater galactic politics), but all parts of it are interesting and easy to follow. I even enjoyed when he cut to the enemy Gubru, as it often occurred just as I was wondering what their reaction to events would be. The book is well tied together at the end, but there are plenty of open questions that can be explored in future books. An excellent read.
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LibraryThing member dbsovereign
I preferred _Startide Rising_ or even _Sundiver_ to this book, but still Brin is a great one for capturing how different species of beings might react - thrown in midst of the story he manages to dream up for them.
LibraryThing member JohnFair
This is my review of David Brin’s ‘The Uplift War’, the third entry in his Uplift Universe series. The story itself is also copyrighted 1987 as well. Although it didn’t quite manage the triple crown winning streak of its predecessor, ‘Startide Rising’, being nominated for, but not
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winning, the 1987 Nebula award, it did win the 1988 Hugo and Locus Awards, and slightly less importantly, is my favourite book in the series. In terms of genre, like its immediate predecessor, Startide Rising, this is military science fiction, and unlike the earlier book, it doesn’t have as much of the philosophical musings, and there is more active combat. Still, quite a lot of the combat still takes place off screen – and particularly the bloodshed.
Like ‘Startide Rising’, this book is broken down into various sections, and told from multiple points of view. Unlike the earlier book, though, this book actually has chapters from the Gubru and other alien points of view, including our first Tymbrimi, the father/daughter combination Uthacalthing and Athaclena. The various sections are broken down into the Prelude, which is entirely told from the Gubru’s point of view and gives us a brief introduction to both the reasons behind the invasion and the Gubru themselves. The official part one is subtitled Invasion and introduces us to some of the leading characters on the Earth Clan side of the invasion including one of the leading chims, Fiben Bolger who is a member of the planetary defence forces and Ambassador Uthacalthing, who is considered rather a joker by the more sober members of the diplomatic representatives on Garth, most of whom are running away from the soon to be invested planet. As the title of the section suggests, it deals with the initial arrival of the Gubru and their landing on the planet, plus a bit of exploration of the interaction between Athaclena and Robert Oneagle, the son of the planetary administrator, at this stage, a rather tentative ‘getting to know you, oh my, how strange they are!’ kind of interaction and this has the potential of all sorts of misunderstandings to liven things up. We also learn that the rather abortive attempts of Earth Clan to defend their colony forces the head of the priestly faction of the Gubru occupation forces to maintain a nominal separation from the planet’s surface – it had vowed not to touch Garth’s surface until opposition had come to an end.
As Part 2, Patriots, opens, the Gubru are more-or-less in charge of the planet and they reckon they’ve taken the planet, but they’re not versed in wolfling psychology, being more used to dealing with the highly stylised undertakings of the galactic Great Clans, so fail to take into account the growing guerrilla operations in the countryside, though it’s quite amusing to read the passages where those guerrillas work out why the Gubru military forces are able to track the guerrillas when they make their strikes, and the understanding of the time scales on which their opponents have been operating – although it’s clear that Garth has been designated a target in the prelude, we don’t have any idea how long before the opening shots this is.
Part 3. Garthlings, focuses quite often on both Uthacalthing, and his companion in exile, Kraut, who’s a Thennanin, supposedly one oh Earth Clan’s enemies, as they track through the swampy wastes. Thanks to a bodged colonisation attempt many eons previously by a supposedly properly Uplifted species, Garth has no lifeforms bigger than domestic cats, and Uthacalthing has planned a jest on Kault to pretend that a larger, near-sentient species had survived this winnowing. Thennanin are known as one of the more serious races in the Five Galaxies, though, and Kault is proving resistant to these carefully planted clues. The Gubru prove more credulous and launch mission after mission to hunt down this mythical species – all patron races are driven by the need for more clients, after all. Except Earth Clan, who are barred from uplifting more proto-sapients from Earth. Both Athaclena and Robert begin growing up and find that a form of love can cross species boundaries.
Throughout the book, much gets made of the problems raised by the process of uplift, that leave a lot of chims that miss out on the benefits of Uplift by what they see as marginal points, in a position to be exploited by the occupation forces. Fiben and the leader of the urban guerrillas find this out first-hand as they are treated to the probies’ ideas of hospitality after the urban operations were completely routed. Poor old Fiben is treated as the character who gets most of the bad stuff dumped on him,, and as a rather comedic character, but he does get to come good at the end of the story. Part 4, Traitors covers much of Fiben and Gailet’s imprisonment, but Robert and Athaclena also find they have some decisions to make that wouldn’t necessarily find favour with their supposed superiors. Throughout the various sections, there is trouble in the Gubru high command. Always a balancing of power and policies between the three leaders, an emerging consensus was broken when the original Suzerain of Cost and Caution – effectively the accountants and bureaucrats boss – was killed in a terrorist attack. For a while Beam and Talon gained the ascendancy, but the balance gradually tips towards Propriety, though this ascendancy may not give answers to the questions the Gubru wanted answering. It’s also in this section, we get to see the power of the Institute of Uplift as they enforce a ceasefire on the warring groups.
Parts 5 and 6 see things coming to a head in both the Gubru and guerrilla camps and, as is often the case when a society is willing to pay the cost, the high tech Gubru roll up the guerrilla forces until Athaclena, now in firm command of the guerrillas, decides that a principled Last Stand is their best option, and it looks bleak for Earth clan until the madness of the Suzerain of Beam and Talon led to his execution by his Second in Command saving the insurgents. Back in the capital, the Gubru Uplift ceremony for the chimps led to an explosive climax as the Gubru backed Irongrip fights for his position against our hero Fiben. However, in probably the most mystical part of the book, the partially uplifted gorillas sense something going on and make their own march on Port Helena and the Uplift Mound to bring an unexpected ally to Earth Clan and their Tymbrimi allies.
The final parts of the book do get a bit airy fairy, but it’s basically well grounded in the physical realities of its universe. This is probably the place to wonder, as well, whether this desire to fiddle with the genetics of a species is something that will ever come to pass or is just something that was part of Brin’s hopes for the future. Certainly, even basic genetic modification of food crops is something that’s not thought of as A Good Thing currently so I can’t see messing about with the genetics of other species considerably ‘cuddlier’ than wheat or maize ever being acceptable.
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Hugo Award (Nominee — Novel — 1988)
Nebula Award (Nominee — Novel — 1987)
Locus Award (Finalist — Science Fiction Novel — 1988)
Seiun Award (Nominee — 1991)
Prometheus Award (Nominee — Novel — 1988)


Original publication date


Physical description

672 p.; 6.93 inches


0553279718 / 9780553279719
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