Startide Rising by David Brin
The Uplift Saga #2
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My Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
First Published: 1983
Read from: January 26 to February 2, 2015
Awards: 1984 Hugo Award for Best Novel , 1983 Nebula Award for Best Novel, 1984 Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel
This Book Won HOW Many Awards?… Why?!
It’s not the first time I have discovered something similar, but this book (which won nearly every award a sci-fi novel could at the time,) pretty much sucked. Which is especially sad because I really liked the first in the series.
I liked the overall arc, but found reading this a chore. Some parts of the plot arc that I thought had the most potential either occurred before the novel starts and are just mentioned in passing, happen off stage, or are described in terribly uninteresting ways. The basic premise is that a spaceship from Earth led by genetically enhanced sentient dolphins with a few human “aides” accidentally discover a secret that has all the other alien races of the galaxy trying to kill them to capture the discovery for themselves or destroy it rather than let anyone else uncover it’s secrets. Instead of exploring the potential alien differences of these creatures, the story instead gives us a bunch of anthropormorphic characters. I might have been able to forgive that if these characters (dolphin, human or alien) weren’t shallow, uninteresting cutouts.
The previous novel had a cool classic space opera, mystery novel / noir vibe mixed with well-thought out future tech and aliens. This really had little to none of these elements, and tried to take itself way too seriously. What little “cool stuff” the novel had was so buried in boring exposition and shallow and stereotypical character interactions that I almost missed it. Even some of the cool sci-fi trope shout outs that I should have liked came out like campy failures because of the trappings they wore. (A passing reference to one of the aliens using the substance “Unobtainium” for example.)
In short, I won’t be reading the rest of this series and I’m sad to say that I regret the time I spent reading this novel.