Archive for March, 2007

Mar 26 2007

Infinity’s Shore

Published by under Books

by David Brin

So I’m continuing with this series and now I’ve now finished book two of the second half of the Uplift (double) Trilogy. The first three books were pretty independent of each other but set the stage for these last three. That was a big stage set. Probably about 1500 pages though I didn’t count them. Infinitiy’s Shore includes a pretty good recapitulation of Brightness Reek in its first chapters. That was a bit tedious since I’m reading them pretty close together, but it makes the book sort of readable on its own though I wouldn’t recommend that.

The overall story seems to be comes together smoothly which is quit impressive given its large scope; many species, characters, and subplots. I’m wondering if this series of book mostly evolved or was plotted out in advance. I’d bet it started as a single book but then evolved into series though the last three books were probably outlined as an entity. Some design was needed to bring it back together in a manner one expects in books. I suppose I could search for “an answer” to that question, but instead I’ll just read the last book shortly. After I catch up on some other delayed tasks.

Overall, it would be foolish to try to explain the characters, environment and plot of such a large scale, imaginary world and story. Infinity’s Shores takes place on the same planet and many of the same characters as Brightness Reef, but it brings them in contact with the human and dolphin crewed space ship from Startide Rising. Brin does tell a tale which includes many ‘large’ human issues: religion and society, inter=species(race) relations, diversity, greed and war. Not lectures, mostly just components of the story. Sometimes it seems odd that the same old problems are projected onto races of beings that can do magnificent things with the physical world. But that’s real. “Progress” hasn’t fundamentally changed many human problems. Just their scope and trappings.

In honor of comic books(?), this volume end with all the three main characters from Brightness Reef again fleeing with the same ‘partner’ as in that book. Fleeing different bad guys in different ways, but again fleeing. The most imaginative flight is in a bubble of ‘space time that is being dragged behind a giant space ship which is chasing other good guys in the space ship from Startide Rising. Sounds funny, but the story makes it fit…

One more book to go, and I just bought it. Will finish it all in a few weeks.

No responses yet

Mar 16 2007

Brightness Reef

Published by under Books

by David Brin
This is the first book of the second half of the Uplift (double) Trilogy and it is only loosely related to the first three books.  It uses the same ‘uplift’ context and some clear references to events in the second book, Startide Rising, but it involves different beings in a different time and place.  It is clearly the start of a tighter series as it sets up a locale, a situation and a set of characters but doesn’t bring much of anything to a conclusion.  At the end of the book, it is all “tune in next week”.  The three main characters, human siblings who live among six groups of illegal aliens on a planet that was supposed to be left uninhabited, are in flight with a partner of the opposite sex who may also be an enemy.  They are fleeing from newly arrived aliens with more powerful technology or from other groups from among the six illegally ‘settled’ species.  Also left in progress is an apparently ill fated journey to the bottom of a sea.

The six groups of alien settler had all come to the planet to get away from the dominant galactic civilization.  All profess to want to gradually revert to a pre-sentient state (the ultimate in dropping out!).  Late in this book, the earthlings who are weak on the galactic scale admit to being there as an insurance policy for the survival of the human race and they don’t really want to drop out.  Other hidden agenda’s are yet to appear.  There are several other major characters and story lines, but I’ll not list them all here.

I still find the story interesting though I’m skimming some of the more tedious or peripheral bits of story.  Predictable in places but a good recreational tall tale.

No responses yet

Mar 08 2007

The Uplift War

Published by under Books

by David Brin

With of this book, I’m half way through the “uplift” (double) trilogy by David Brin. These first three books are all quite different from each other but loosely related by the inclusion of the same ‘uplift’ scenario. All occur in the distant future, in the same galaxy, and with the same set of ‘alien’ races involved in ‘uplifting’ less developed species.

Startide Rising (‘83) was mainly about humans and dolphins and didn’t dwell on societal issues. The Uplift War was written in ’87, was mainly about humans and chimpanzees, and plays against a background of ecological issues. It takes place on a despoiled planet, “Garth” which was re-settled by humans and chimps after its environment was ruined by a ‘young’, intelligent, but rapacious species. That ruinous episode is not part of the book except for its destruction of most life on the planet. Garth and its human outposts become a pawn in an intra-galactic war that was triggered by the events described in Startide Rising. Garth is invaded and occupied by one of the warring races with the intention of using it as a bargaining chip. The story is about the chimps’ and humans’ resistance and the eventual loss of face by the invaders.

Subplots or themes involve the weakness of high tech weapons which are temporarily foiled by reversion to bows and arrows, empathetic communication among a race that is friendly to the earthlings, and a better elaboration of the nature of some of the key alien species and how they are imagined to function. The later will likely be elaborated in the ensuing three books.

Like Startide Rising, this book was a “Space opera”. It held my attention and when finished, I wanted to continue on with the series. Entertaining with some clever ideas and explorations of those ideas.

No responses yet

Mar 07 2007

Many Children’s Stories

Published by under Books,retro

Many children’s stories are retro.  They originated in and tell about the agrarian past.  Putting human characteristics on farm and wild animals, telling of trips to town, kids wandering around and having adventures out in nature.  That’s all pretty retro.

No responses yet

Mar 07 2007

On Bullshit

Published by under Books

Harry G Frankfurt

This ‘book’ is really an essay packaged between two little ‘hard covers’ which contain 63 small pages, and the author is, or was, a philosophy professor.

The book contains an analysis of the usage of the word bullshit in comparison to humbug and lies. It concludes that the key characteristic of bullshit is a disregard for the truth (“indifference to how things really are”). As compared to a lie which at the least reflects a belief as to what is true, bullshit floats free of any relationship to truth. Truth or falsity doesn’t matter to the speaker.

It is also noted that “Bullshit is commonly the result when circumstances require someone to talk without knowing what he is talking about” as in politics or in a business meeting. A lot of truth there which explains much political and business bullshit. Someone one is put in a position where they must say something that sounds intelligent. Truthful or not is unimportant. Just say something that “sounds” relevant and acceptable to the audience.

It has been a long time since I read anything so explicitly philosophical with care and analysis applied to the meaning of words and how they are being used. Kind of fun, but I don’t want to read too much of philosophy as it tends to make me go around in mental circles.

A nice short read.

No responses yet