I was about half-way through THE UPLIFT WAR, I sat down and
wrote the following:
The saying is that familiarity breeds contempt. In
the case of David Brin's Uplift novels, though, I'm
finding that familiarity merely breeds a sense of the
mundane. The grand brushstrokes of his galactic
civilization seem brilliant and bold when you see them
for the first time, as if a reality of epic scope were
being polished like a jewel before its presentation. But
the longer you look and the more you see, the more
mundane the creation becomes -- as if some magician had
used the polishing cloth to shuffle the jewel away and
replaced it with a counterfeit of glass.
When someone says, "Look ye upon a galaxy teeming
with alien civilizations beyond count." There is a
promise of grandeur there. But when the same guy wraps
up by saying, "And pretty much all of t
hem are uni-cultures based on biological cliches and my
own fascination with trinary thinking." Well, the
promise kind of evaporates like so much smoke.
just completed THE UPLIFT WAR, I find that my opinion has
ending is odd... About twenty pages from the end Brin shifts
into a strange storytelling mode where he’s suddenly reminding
readers of things that happened less than five paragraphs
earlier. It gets even weirder when he begins re-stating the
basic relationships between characters. “There was XXX,
YYY’s lover...” Yeah, David, we know. They’ve been lovers
for three hundred pages. And, yes, we know that Megan Oneagle is
Robert Oneagle’s mother. Give it a bloody rest already.
think the reason I find it so hard to precisely put my opinion
of Brin’s writing into words is the blatant inconsistency of
it. In STARTIDE RISING I watched him shift seamlessly, time and
time again, between hack soap opera and brilliant space opera.
In THE UPLIFT WAR we’re spared from hack soap opera, but the
inconsistency simply finds its place in a plethora of
Achilles’ heels which, while being less easily summarized, are
not less frustrating and debilitating.
more random thoughts:
Intriguingly, while I found the hack soap opera of STARTIDE
RISING to be one of the major failings of the novel, I found the
romantic sub-plots of THE UPLIFT WAR to be one of its major
As with STARTIDE RISING, Brin gives us a plot of epic scope with
a mythic core. To his credit, he manages to resist the urge to
have one of his characters explain to us just how amazingly cool
the epic scope and mythic core of his novel is. (Something
which, in STARTIDE RISING, dulls the luster of the
accomplishment. Unfortunately, because he did it in STARTIDE
RISING, some of the luster is still lost.)
THE UPLIFT WAR is a far more satisfying novel than STARTIDE
RISING, in no small part because Brin chose both the right
beginning and the right ending.
wish I could put my thoughts on THE UPLIFT WAR into some kind of
order, but I’ve spent several weeks trying to write this
reaction and that order just isn’t emerging. In retrospect, I
can say that I liked as much as I disliked. And what I liked, I
liked a lot. And what I disliked, I disliked a lot.
the end, I’d say that THE UPLIFT WAR is worth reading. But I
won’t give it a high recommendation.