Thoughts of a Catholic convert

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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Startide Rising

I saw there's news about the social/sexual lives of dolphins - Dolphins - Living Loose in the Ocean - and that reminded me of a science fiction novel I read years ago ... Startide Rising by David Brin. Here's what the Publishers Weekly blurb at Amazon says ...

In its original paperback editon of 1983, this novel won both the Hugo and Nebula awards. Brin's extensive revisions make this first hardcover edition an SF event. What remains most impressive is the complex background of political, cultural, linguistic and many other connections and missed connections among innumerable different species. Against the backdrop of an ancient spacefaring conglomerate, whose shared traditions have not halted their wars, the upstart Earthlingshumans, dolphins, chimpanzeesalso stand divided. Brin raises questions not only of understanding but of ethics, for a "patron" race may genetically uplift another only to indenture them. His depiction of the dolphins' gains and losses now that they've become space pilots is particularly moving. Although Brin's characterization and storytelling are less adept here than in the work he has since written, this is one of the outstanding SF novels of recent years.

One of the ideas I remember from the book was that of the Whale Dream ...

The concept of endless parallel universes was one known by dolphins long before humans learned fire. It was integral to the Whale Dream. The great cetaceans moaned complacently of a world that was endlessly mutable. In becoming tool users, amicus dolphins lost this grand indifference. Now they understood the whales' philosophy little better than did men. (p. 174)

You can read excerpts from the book here at David Brin's website.


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