Sundiver (Uplift Series #1)

Sundiver (Uplift Series #1)

by David Brin

Paperback(Mass Market Paperback - Reissue)

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780553269826
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/28/1985
Series: Uplift Series , #1
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 352
Product dimensions: 6.86(w) x 10.88(h) x 0.98(d)
Lexile: 890L (what's this?)
Age Range: 14 - 18 Years

About the Author

David Brin is a scientist and the bestselling author of Sundiver, The Uplift War, Startide Rising, The Practice Effect, The Postman, Heart of the Comet (with Gregory Benford), Earth, Glory Season, Brightness Reef, and Infinity's Shore, as well as the short-story collections The River of Time and Otherness. He has a doctorate in astrophysics and has been a NASA consultant and a physics professor.

Read an Excerpt

“Makakai, are you ready?”
Jacob ignored the tiny whirrings of motors and valves in his metal cocoon. He lay still. The water lapped gently against the bulbous nose of his mechanical whale, as he waited for an answer.
One more time he checked the tiny indicators on his helmet display. Yes, the radio was working. The occupant of the other waldo whale, lying half submerged a few meters away, had heard every word.
The water was exceptionally clear today. Facing downward, he could see a small leopard shark swim lazily past, a bit out of place here in the deeper water offshore.
“Makakai…are you ready?”
He tried not to sound impatient, or betray the tension he felt building in the back of his neck as he waited. He closed his eyes and made the delinquent muscles relax, one by one. Still, he waited for his pupil to speak.
“Yesss…let’sss do it!” came the warbling, squeaky voice, at last. The words sounded breathless, as if spoken grudgingly, in lieu of inhalation.
A nice long speech for Makakai. He could see the young dolphin’s training machine next to his, its image reflected in the mirrors that rimmed his faceplate. Its gray metal flukes lifted and fell slightly with the swell. Feebly, without their power, her artificial fins moved, sluggishly under the transient, serrated surface of the water.
She’s as ready as she’ll ever be, he thought. If technology can wean a dolphin of the Whale-Dream, now’s the time we’ll find out.
He chinned the microphone switch again. “All right, Makakai. You know how the waldo works. It will amplify any action you make, but if you want the rockets to cut in, you’ll have to give the command in English. Just to be fair, I have to whistle in trinary to make mine work.”
“Yesss!” she hissed. Her waldo’s gray flukes thrashed up once and down with a boom and a spray of saltwater.
With a half muttered prayer to the Dreamer, he touched a switch releasing the amplifiers on both Makakai’s waldo and his own, then cautiously turned his arms to set the fins into motion. He flexed his legs, the massive flukes thrust back jerkily in response, and his machine immediately rolled over and sank.
Jacob tried to correct but overcompensated, making the waldo tumble even worse. The beating of his fins momentarily made the area around him a churning mass of bubbles, until patiently, by trial and error, he got himself righted.
He pushed off again, carefully, to get some headway, then arched his back and kicked out. The waldo responded with a great tail-slashing leap into the air.
The dolphin was almost a kilometer off. As he reached the top of his arc, Jacob saw her fall gracefully from a height of ten meters to slice smoothly into the swell below.
He pointed his helmet beak at the water and the sea came at him like a green wall. The impact made his helmet ring as he tore through tendrils of floating kelp, sending a golden Garibaldi darting away in panic as he drove downwards.
He was going in too steep. He swore and kicked twice to straighten out. The machine’s massive metal flukes beat at the water to the rhythmic push of his feet, each beat sending a tremor up his spine, pressing him against the suit’s heavy padding. When the time was right, he arched and kicked again. The machine ripped out of the water.
Sunlight flashed like a missile in his left window, its glare drowning the dim glow of his tiny instrument panel. The helmet computer chuckled softly as he twisted, beak down, to crash into the bright water once again.
As a school of tiny silver anchovies scattered before him, Jacob hooted out loud with exhilaration.
His hands slipped along the controls to the rocket verniers, and at the top of his next arc he whistled a code in trinary. Motors hummed, as the exoskeleton extended winglets along its sides. Then the boosters cut in with a savage burst, pressing the padded headpiece upward with the sudden acceleration, pinching the back of his skull as the waves swept past, just below his hurtling craft.
He came down near Makakai with a great splash. She whistled a shrill trinary welcome. Jacob let the rockets shut off automatically and resumed the purely mechanical leaping beside her.
For a time they moved in unison. With each leap Makakai grew more daring, performing twists and pirouettes during the long seconds before they struck the water. Once, in midair, she rattled off a dirty limerick in dolphin, a low piece of work, but Jacob hoped they’d recorded it back at the chase boat. He’d missed the punch line at the crashing end of the aerial cycle.
The rest of the training team followed behind them on the hovercraft. During each leap he caught sight of the large vessel, diminished, now, by distance, until his impact cut off everything but the sounds of splitting water, Makakai’s sonar squeaking, and the rushing, phosphorescent blue-green past his windows.
Jacob’s chronometer indicated that ten minutes had passed. He wouldn’t be able to keep up with Makakai for more than a half hour, no matter how much amplification he used. A man’s muscles and nervous system weren’t designed for this leap-and-crash routine.
“Makakai, it’s time to try the rockets. Let me know if you’re ready and we’ll use them on the following jump.”
They both came down into the sea and he worked his flukes in the frothy water to prepare for the next leap. They jumped again.
“Makakai, I’m serious now. Are you ready?”
They sailed high together. He could see her tiny eye behind a plastic window as her waldo-machine twisted before slicing into the water. He followed an instant later.
“Okay, Makakai. If you don’t answer me, we’ll just have to stop right now.”
Blue water swept past, along with a cloud of bubbles, as he pushed along beside his pupil.
Makakai twisted around and dove down instead of rising for another leap. She chattered something almost too fast to follow in trinary…about how he shouldn’t be a spoilsport.
Jacob let his machine rise slowly to the surface. “Come dear, use the King’s English. You’ll need it if you ever want your children to go into space. And it’s so expressive! Come on. Tell Jacob what you think of him.”
There were a few seconds of silence. Then he saw something move very fast below him. It streaked upward and, just before it hit the surface, he heard Makakai’s voice shrilly taunt:
“Ch-chase me, ch-chump! I fly-y-y!”
With the last word, her mechanical flukes snapped back and she leaped out of the water on a column of flame.
Laughing, he dove to give himself headway and then launched into the air after his pupil.

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Sundiver (Uplift Series #1) 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 49 reviews.
coffeephilosopher More than 1 year ago
I'm not done yet, but I purchased this book because it kept coming up in lists of recommended sci fi or space opera. So far, it is pretty darn good. It's driven more by intellectual considerations so far and requires some close reading. It's not an action novel you can breeze through - though I don't want to give the wrong impression and suggest that this is great and important literature. What it is, is very, very good science fiction. Certainly, it's better than 90% of the garbage that passes as good writing in any genre these days and will put to rest the lie that there is no well written sci fi.
ragwaine on LibraryThing 25 days ago
Not as cool as _The Postman_. Dry, 2 dimensional characters, dated writing, decent plot but not all that exciting. Confusing at first.
KevlarRelic on LibraryThing 26 days ago
The latest in my Sci-Fi binge, this book pleasantly surprised me by starting in the middle of the action, much like a good short story would, and skipping all the standard world building (WHOOSH! Our spaceships fly FAST!) and character building (Though humble, turns out our hero is the best at EVERYTHING!) stuff in favor of letting it all come up naturally. Unfortunately the plot wasn't that compelling for most of the book. It only seemed to gain momentum near the end, but was marred thereabouts by a pretty deus-ex-machina-y finale. Overall it was an enjoyable read. I heard that the sequels blow this one out of the water; I look forward to reading them.
LisaMaria_C on LibraryThing 26 days ago
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 somewhat clunky. Brin is notably far too fond of the exclamation point among other things. Two things rather won me over though and made this novel stick out in my mind. First, its take on human/alien relations is unusual. As this novel starts, humans had made first contact with a galaxy-spanning civilization whose previous space-going cultures had all undergone "uplift" from sponsoring older species, creating a patron/client relationship between species. Humans however, seem to be an exception of evolved intelligence. They therefore have no patron--but there are species very advanced technologically that would love to have them "adopted." This has had several affects on both internal and interstellar politics. Demwa, a Cherokee descendant, poignantly compares Earth's dilemma to what faced Amerindians when confronted with European settlers. How much can you, should you adapt of another, more technologically advanced culture to survive, without becoming dependent or losing who you are? Besides this backdrop, this novel has the old-fashioned hard science-fiction pleasures of a novel of the Golden Age by an Asimov or Heinlein that revels in the wonders of astronomy. Much of the book deals with exploration of the sun and the riddle of Solarians--whether there is intelligent life on the sun and their possible relevance to human origins. Add to this a murder mystery and elements of romance and it made for an entertaining story. I finished the novel intrigued enough to try the next book in the series someday, even if not motivated to immediately grab a copy.
sturlington on LibraryThing 26 days ago
I don¿t think I fully ¿got¿ this book. The premise is an intriguing one. It is the far future, and mankind has made contact with aliens. Every other species in the known universe, going back to the original Progenitors (who have since departed for some other plane), was ¿uplifted¿ by an older species into sentience, and then given access to the collective technology and knowledge via a central Library. Mankind is the only space-going species that was not uplifted, or the process was started and then abandoned by some unknown alien race, a matter of debate. Man has started uplifting other species on Earth, namely chimpanzees and dolphins, and so are accepted into the galactic community.This is all background. The story begins when Jacob Demwa, who is working with a sentient dolphin, is asked by an alien emissary to join a mission to explore the chromosphere of the Sun. Using a specially designed ship called Sundiver, the explorers have discovered at least two previously unknown species of intelligent aliens living within the chromosphere, and they want Jacob to help communicate with them. Also aboard the ship are representatives of three alien species and a scientist who will attempt telepathic communication.The main plot is a convoluted mystery, which I had some trouble following. But more confusing, at least to me, was Jacob¿s character, which seems to be split into a dual personality over which he has some, but not total, control. This happened after a pivotal event in Jacob¿s past, when his wife died and he did something heroic involving saving one of Earth¿s space elevators, a story Jacob keeps promising to tell but never really does. I began to wonder whether this novel was actually a sequel and I had missed the earlier installment, although I know this is the first part of a trilogy. This slipperiness kept me from fully engaging with the story and following its twists and turns. Although I appreciated the novelty of the Mercury setting and the sun ship, I just didn¿t make an emotional connection with what was going on. I¿m not sure I¿ll continue the series.UPDATE: I just discovered that the second part, STARTIDE RISING, does not have any of the characters from SUNDIVER, and it seems to be a much more highly regarded book. I probably will give it a whirl after all, since it¿s already sitting on my shelf.
Karlstar on LibraryThing 26 days ago
This isn't so much the first book of the Uplift series, as it is somewhat of a prequel. The humans and other inhabitants of Earth, including chimps that the humans have given enhanced intelligence, have just been 'discovered' by alien races. While on an expedition to explore the sun in person, a group of humans must deal with aliens on board, and survive an alien plot to keep the humans confined to Earth, meanwhile making discoveries about the Sun.
DirtPriest on LibraryThing 26 days ago
This is the first of six highly acclaimed books in the Uplift series that I have been looking forward to reading for years but could never find this volume. I bought it online so here goes. It starts after humans have genetically engineered both dolphins and chimpanzees into human level intelligences and added speech mechanisms. That makes man unique in the galaxy as sentience is bestowed by a patron species on a client species, hence the term Uplift. Man is the only species to have achieved entry into the galactic civilization without the aid of a patron and are elevated in this society by virtue of their two client species. This causes instant resentment from older races that foreshadows conflict in future books. In Sundiver, the bulk of the story takes place on Sundiving ships that are exploring the sun and discover a form of life that lives in the photosphere. A Hercule Poirot style mystery erupts when Bubbacub, a Pila alien, is caught manipulating events involving these sun beings, and hijinks ensue. There is no record in the immense galactic Library of life like these beings in the sun, fueling speculation that these are either the Patrons of mankind, or perhaps the original Progenitors that founded the galactic cultures billions of years ago. The series revolves around the search for these entities and the other races jealousy and hatred of humans and their clients, the dolphins and chimps. The writing is pretty clear, but there are a few fuzzy areas here and there. I don't have a problem with this, as the story continues on, but it's not perfect. The science is definitely emphasized and is in itself pretty interesting. You figure out a way to build a spaceship capable of entering the sun without sounding like a moron! I am a ways into book two, Startide Rising. It is much more dense and significantly longer. My early opinion is that it is hard to remember the characters as they are almost all dolphins with goofy names (Creideiki, K'tha-Jon, Keepiru, Tsh't, and about twenty more of two rival species of dolphin) and that they are pretty fortunate to have found an ocean world to hide on while they repair their ship. Several fleets duke it out in space for the right to capture them for information on a billions-year-old derelict fleet that they discovered way above the galactic plane, itself a freakish coincidence. More later.
KromesTomes on LibraryThing 5 months ago
I've now completed the first Uplift series, although I read them out of order, going from 2 to 3 to 1 ... and that's also how I'd rank them ... but that could be me losing my tolerance for Brin's writing ... Sundiver was like Heinlein at his sexist, faux naive worst.
novawalsh on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Not that great, characters not built well, confusing hard to finish
faganjc on LibraryThing 5 months ago
I probably would have liked this better if I'd read it in 1980. Also the unique things about it, I'd experienced in Startide Rising, which is much superior, and so they weren't new or as interesting to me. Yukky mel-fem relationship (gag).
raynim on LibraryThing 5 months ago
The book was interesting in its speculation on a venture to the sun. However in the end I felt that the book offered little more than a mystery reminiscent of scooby doo. This was my first novel by Brin and based on what I have heard one of his early and weaker attempts, so i hope for more in his later novels.
clong on LibraryThing 5 months ago
This is a reasonably entertaining book, but not really in the league of the much more ambitious Startide Rising and The Uplift War. The story is fairly simple, a sort of "whodonit?" set around a space program that appears to have made contact with energy beings who live in and around the sun. The story builds to a fairly early false climax, but then quickly begins rebuilding tension as it moves towards a second big suspenseful climax. The best things about the book are some of the very intriguing technology concepts that make it possible to explore the sun (some of these are human developed; some are gifts from the intergalactic Library that plays a key role in the dissemination of knowledge in Brin's Uplift universe). I had enjoyed the character development in Startide Rising and The Uplift War, especially of the nonhuman characters (neochimps, neodolphins, and aliens). The characterization in Sundiver left me disappointed. The protagonist was neither sympathetic nor particularly convincing (the whole pseudo suppressed split personality thing just seemed silly to me). And the three important alien characters were interesting as excercises in alien design, but as key players in the story they left me unconvinced.
wfzimmerman on LibraryThing 5 months ago
A treasured first edition of a perfect novel debut by David Brin.
leld on LibraryThing 6 months ago
While I do like this book, it's a fun story, one can tell that this is early in his writing career. For a quick, easy read I would recommend it, but definitely not his best.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
really good read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A good introduction to David Brin
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Jrpsr56 More than 1 year ago
Liked the storyline, easy read. A little confusing at times but the story was no problem to follow. On to uplift #2...
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