David Brin
Startide Rising (1983, rev. 1993)
Winner of the 1984 Hugo and 1983 Nebula Awards for Best Novel.
Uplift #2
Reviewed: 1996-11-23

Some two hundred years have passed since the events in Sundiver. The exploration vessel Streaker is the first starship crewed and commanded by uplifted dolphins, with a few humans and a single neo-chimp on board serving as supporting staff and scientists only. On a survey mission the crew discovered a huge derelict armada, estimated to be some two billion years old. When Streaker broadcast the find but not its location on her way home she was ambushed and chased by a Galactic fleet. Crippled by the attack, she has managed to limp to the remote waterworld of Kithrup. There the ship goes into hiding while the crew try to make repairs and the scientists explore the hostile planet they are stranded on. Meanwhile fanatic factions of the Galactics fight each other throughout the Kithrup system in a titanic space battle over the right to claim Streaker and with her the position of what might well be the most important discovery in Galactic history.

Basically, Startide Rising is a straighforward space opera that starts out sluggishly and takes off (quite literally) only towards the end. With a lot of characterization and interaction among the crew, earlier parts of the book suffer from a lack of focus and as a result the novel feels overpadded. The depiction of the dolphins is exquisite. The cetaceans appear both very alien and very human, reflecting their original heritage as well as man's efforts to form them in his own image during the uplift process. Apart from the internal struggles of the crew and the threat of the Galactics overhead the planet Kithrup also offers some surprises of its own, but these aspects are little developed. Despite some weaknesses, Startide Rising is immensely enjoyable and well worth the awards it received.

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