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(The Uplift Saga #1)

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  23,189 ratings  ·  678 reviews
This is the 4th printing.

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 "upli
Mass Market Paperback, 340 pages
Published November 16th 1981 by Bantam (first published 1980)
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Average rating 3.69  · 
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 ·  23,189 ratings  ·  678 reviews

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Mario the lone bookwolf (semi reviewing hiatus )
The most fascinating aspect of Brin's work is, next do the development of language depending on the habitat and culture of a species, the idea of uplifting. Many questions, ideas and plot possibilities come with it:

Have we been uplifted? If we have been uplifted, are we living in a kind of alien zoo? Could this be part of the simulation hypothesis?
Is what we do with other animals, such as breeding for thousands of years and now, the hottest new trend, genetic engineering with techniques as CRIS

Christmas 2010: I realised that I had got stuck in a rut. I was re-reading old favourites again and again, waiting for a few trusted authors to release new works. Something had to be done.

On the spur of the moment I set myself a challenge, to read every book to have won the Locus Sci-Fi award. That’s 35 books, 6 of which I’d previously read, leaving 29 titles by 14 authors who were new to me.

While working through this reading list I got married, went on my honeymoon, switched career and beca
Mar 03, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf
This is science fiction from 1980 and is therefore not obsessed with:
1) Computers.
2) Nanotech.
3) Wormholes.

This makes it rather refreshing. Instead this book uses an old theme, prevalent in post-WWII American SF: Humans (read the USA) are superior to everybody else. In this example, humans are technologically outclassed by every other space-faring species in the galaxy but are superior because their intelligence evolved naturally instead of being the result of genetic manipulation by an older sp
Jan 07, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who enjoy space opera sci-fi
Recommended to Mark by: Hugo Award nominee
I really disliked this book. This may have been due in part that I listened to the audible edition and I'm not a fan of George Wilson as a narrator.

The protagonist in this book, Jacob, is tedious and unbelievable. The author builds him up as a world-weary, zen, super scientist, martial-artist with a Mr. Hyde-like split personality that he needs keep in check.

Al the other characters in this book are diminutive to Jacob.

The women in the novel are little better than 2-dimensional window dressing.
Mar 11, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2014
4 Stars

My first David Brin novel. I enjoyed this high concept science fiction novel. It is a fun adventure to the depths of our sun itself. Aliens, monsters, and ghosts fill the action scenes. All the while this is a novel filled with politics and racism.

I liked the unfolding of the mysteries of this book, it could have been a gem. The ending plays out in an almost anticlimactic way. It was a let down.

I will read more from him.
Will Caskey
Apr 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
The Uplift books are tied for my favorite sci-fi series with Asimov's original Foundation series. This is sci-fi at its very best. Brin goes through an astonishing number of fascinating ideas and concepts, but leaves them for the reader to peruse or discard. Want racial allegory? Sure. Prefer religion? Plenty of it. Political intrigue? It's there by the truckload.

When Brin goes into pretend-science he goes all in. One can almost sense his smirk going through this first book: that's right, this b
Jul 30, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
Mr. von Däniken must be very proud that his beliefs became the other evolutionary theory in this saga: Dänikenism versus Darwinism. You can almost glimpse the birth of Ancient Aliens ;)) Series I very much liked (well, some of the episodes, at least), which, unfortunately, I cannot say about this first part of the Uplift Saga.

The main character, Jacob Darwa, is a sort of Hercule Poirot in a galactic interracial plot. A team composed of humans and a few more races of aliens starts an expedition t
May 23, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved the concept of uplifting. My youth obsession with Von Däniken's theories came to a full circle here (I hadn't thought of him or his theories in ages and it was like a coming home to be suddenly confronted with them in this novel). Equally great were the going ons around the sun (won't say too much cause it is beautiful to experience it together with the crew).
The overall feeling was a bit Star Trekkie, which, again, was nice.

Yet the story and the structure/characters felt dated and so on
Dec 07, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Most recent SF I read is actually a bit dated, David Brin's "Sundiver". I picked it up because it got a lot of favorable mention in "Eclipse Phase" (a transhuman SF roleplaying game I play tested). It's setting has humanity uplifting some other earth species (chimps, dolphins, etc...) to human sentience... and then humanity encountering aliens which derive their intergalactic status on whether a species has uplifted other species (has "client" species). It has a big debate among humans whether t ...more
Really fantastic, sci-fi that makes you think. I liked the aliens and the general mystery plot, but it was the other world-building details that stood out for me:

- the technology behind the sun ships;
- the anachronistic idioms used by one character who, due to relativistic time differences involved in her line of work, is from a much older time period;
- the psychological/physical tests used to objectively decide that a certain proportion of humanity is too psychopathic/sociopathic to interact wi
Mogsy (MMOGC)
This was a recommendation from my husband, who read these books (The Uplift Saga) when he was younger and loved them. For a science fiction novel that was written and published before I was born, I have to say it has aged very well; this could have been written today. The technology and the science described is excellent, which was why my husband figured I would like this in the first place.

It was also an unexpected pleasure to discover as I was reading that Sundiver turned out to be a pretty de
Oct 30, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
This book just could not keep my attention. I liked the parts I heard but it just didn't grab me. I even restarted twice. No luck.

The audio was thoroughly mediocre.
Aug 10, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf
I'm always trepidatious when I return to a book I loved as a child. My friend Jon Orwant once confessed that he had avoided rereading "Godel, Escher, Bach" in case it wasn't as good through 2000s eyes as it was through 1980s eyes. For me, I remember curling up in bed and devouring Brin's Uplift Saga as a teen, and coming away with my mind blown. So you can imagine the hesitation I felt when I opened "Sundiver" on the iPad and started the first sentence.

Fortunately, it has barely suffered in the
aPriL does feral sometimes
Jacob Demwa does not want to be part of the Sundiver project. He is enjoying his current job on Earth at the Center for Uplift working with uplifted dolphins, testing their IQs and ability to work with mechanized tools. The dolphins are not as far along intellectually as the uplifted chimpanzees, but he enjoys their company nonetheless. But when the alien Fagin, a Kanten who is in charge of the Institute of Progress, asks him to join Dr. Dwayne Kepler of the Sundiver Expedition to research Mercu ...more
Aug 12, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
David Brin was one of the authors who inspired me to get my Ph. D. in Physics. His first book, 'Sundiver' is a very smartly-paced and -wriiten sci-fi mystery, with aliens that really are ALIEN, a very believable hero, and science that isn't 'skience' (science made to work for the world of the book). Plus, it's the first of one of the best sci-fi series ever, 'The Uplift Saga', where Man is an upstart infant race in a Galactic Society that has lasted literally BILLIONS of years. 'Mature' races 'U ...more
May 31, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a classic that I have been meaning to read for a very long time now. I finally got around to it and was not disappointed. It did feel like the never-ending story towards the end though, because it kept ending, but then aha! It's not the end! There's another twist! But it was all very interesting, so forgiven. I will listen to the sequel right away, because I'm afraid I will forget the details and who knows if it's important to sweat the details for the sequel. Anyway, the 2nd book is the ...more
Benjamin Thomas
Mar 13, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
This book kicks off the “Uplift Saga” and I wanted to read it even though I had heard that it isn’t David Brin’s best stuff. Turns out it’s his first novel and based on the critical acclaim for the next two books in the series (Startide Rising and The Uplift War), I can only assume that his storytelling vastly improved. As for this one, while there is a story here that is of interest, and an epic concept, I think Mr. Brin lost sight of that story in order to utilize his own background in astroph ...more
Jan 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction-series
This is astrophysicist David Brin's first novel, and it is part hard SF and part mystery (murder and otherwise). A good deal of time is spent introducing a portion of his Uplift setting, explored further in his second (and much awarded) book. I liked it.

The author's background (he was also a NASA consultant) comes through in some fascinating hardware for "diving" towards the surface of the sun and coming safely home again. Outside the basic tech, Brin relies on "galactic tech" to take care of ot
Feb 26, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: do-not-own
A good beginning of an ambitious hard-scifi series (I wouldn't consider it "space opera", though it stumbles into that territory at times). This is Brin at the beginning of his career. It is more in the style of Hal Clement than that of A.C. Clarke. Many specific scientific conditions dictating events 'peopled' by a wide variety of intelligent alien beings and "uplifted" earth mammals.
It's been well-nigh many years since I've cracked open some honest-to-goodness, unapologetic, extraterrestrial-filled science fiction. I thought I had outgrown space operas, frankly. Sure, my reading lists still feature plenty of futuristic and fantastic tales, but these are nearly all set on Earth and deal with various end-of-the-world dystopias. What can I say? I'm a sucker for a good apocalypse. Still, when a friend clued me in to the premise of David Brin's Uplift series after watching Prome ...more
Aug 18, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sciencefiction
I've already bought all six books in this series, so I'm going to read them all. This first one, though, didn't thrill me much for a number of reasons. For one thing, it featured a superhero type protagonist and another superhero type for a love interest. I seem to prefer books in which it's ordinary people who do the things that turn out to be extraordinary, just by doing what they feel. It's also a mystery with a lot of plot twists, and those are not my favorite type of book.

The technology was
I got rid of all my David Brin novels because he was, I felt at the time, racist against aliens.
Bear with me here.
Aliens are always the villains in the Uplift novels. And the thing is, they're Big Bads, they're Snidely Whiplashes: evil maniacs out to destroy humanity. If it weren't for the cartoonishness of their villainy, I think the Uplift books would be classics. Merely having a couple of "good ones" doesn't suffice. Besides, this does a disservice to the human characters, who by default are
K.T. Katzmann
It's been a while, but I remember this as a nice science fiction exploration story mixed with a mystery, as if Agatha Christie had put on of her many mansion murders inside the Sun. The real charms are the details on alien politics and the uplifted Earth animals, which Brin would realize was the main draws of the series (especially in The Uplift War. A good start to a better series.

One of the lines that stuck with me is how the humans worked hard to erase from history any records of the extinct
Chris Walker
An uneven book where the story feels too small for the world it inhabits. The technological aspects and the descriptions of a spaceship travelling through the sun's photosphere were the best parts. The characters were somewhat flat, and the story devolved into a kind of half-baked Scooby Doo mystery.

The scale of the book is somewhat space-opera-y with a universe teeming with multiple alien species arranged in an extremely old and complex hierarchy. Evolved species have developed the ability to e
Kara Babcock
First read October 17, 2008. (No review)

Second reading review, April 23, 2010.

There are as many origin theories as there are people to think about the origins of humanity. Like most reviews, I can't help but praise David Brin's Uplift concept. On one hand, the von Daniken-like idea of having a "patron" species that shepherded humanity toward sentience is comforting and resonates with our need to have concrete origins and a sense of belonging in a larger community. On the other hand, the Darwinia
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Sep 18, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Science Fiction Fans
Recommended to Lisa (Harmonybites) by: The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Ultimate Reading List
This is the first book in the The Uplift War series. It took me a while to get into this book. The characters, particularly the protagonist and main point of view character, Jacob Demwa, are likeable. I liked his love interest, Helene De Silva, too. But I can't say Brin's characters strike me as complex or memorable. The style is readable, but hardly smooth. Brin is notably far too fond of the exclamation point among other clunkers.

Two things rather won me over though and made this novel stick
Mitch Harden
May 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was great! I came to Brin via an essay he wrote about why Star Trek was better than Star Wars. In it, he reminded me of why I like sci-fi and explained why so much sci-fi isn't worth reading. You can check that out here:

From there I checked out his website and blog and read his short story "Lungfish." It blew my mind. Loved it! It was exactly the Sci-Fi I wanted and so his Uplift saga jumped to the top of my reading list.

Sundiver was brilliant!
Jul 11, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: die hard science fiction fans
This book is about a galactic civilization where only ones species has ever traveled to the stars without being "uplifted," or genetically engineered by another more advanced species. The one that wasn't uplifted were the progenitors, the first race to make it to the stars. The galaxy has an interesting political make up, as each race is valued on who uplifted them and how many races they have uplifted. And then there are the humans, who seem to have reached the stars without being uplifted. And ...more
Aug 22, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mostly a detective story in an strange new environment, only the ending taking a glimpse at the complexity of the galactic politics; also, the features describing a schizophrenic personality are not that well executed (Bujold's Mirror Dance far surpasses this attempt)
Well, I should have known not to read something this old in scifi, but since Book 2 won three awards including both the Hugo and the Nebula and some of my scifi GR friends liked this novel a great deal, I thought I'd start with this. Why did I keep reading it? Several reasons, not the least of which was to write this review, but also in hopes it might get better and because some of the writing just made me laugh and not because it was meant to be funny. That said, had I read this between the age ...more
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David Brin is a scientist, speaker, and world-known author. His novels have been New York Times Bestsellers, winning multiple Hugo, Nebula and other awards. At least a dozen have been translated into more than twenty languages.

Existence, his latest novel, offers an unusual scenario for first contact. His ecological thriller, Earth, foreshadowed global warming, cyberwarfare and near-future trends

Other books in the series

The Uplift Saga (6 books)
  • Startide Rising (The Uplift Saga, #2)
  • The Uplift War (The Uplift Saga, #3)
  • Brightness Reef (Uplift Storm Trilogy, #1)
  • Infinity's Shore (Uplift Storm Trilogy, #2)
  • Heaven's Reach (Uplift Storm Trilogy, #3)

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