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Ermahgerd. Berks.

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James S.A. Corey
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STARTIDE RISING (Uplift Trilogy)

Startide Rising  - David Brin A good way to illustrate the utter failure of the Star Wars prequels on just about every level of storytelling imaginable is to ask someone to describe the characters without talking about their jobs or their costumes. [Come on, try it: Queen Amidala. Oh, she looks like a Kabuki... wait, no. She's the queen... I'm sorry. Um, her hair. She's... normal?] The characters in Startide Rising suffer in much the same fashion. Aside from the fact that they are of different species, not much differentiates the crew-members: human, dolphin, scientist, dolphin scientist. Chimpanzee. This is an issue, considering the book is told in alternating point-of-view chapters from a dozen or so different characters of several species.You are probably confused already. How can you write a book where some characters are dolphins and some characters are human and you can't really tell them apart? Well, if David Brin is any kind of example, you write it rather poorly, and then you win every major genre award for it. I should totally try!Once again, I am being an ass. This is one of those sci-fi books, the ones where you remember why a lot of people hold their noses when they walk by the genre shelves in Barnes & Noble [note: insert funny joke about fat & unshowered nerds here later (Comic Book Guy reference?)]. It has some really cool, intriguing ideas driving the narrative. It also has a cyborg dolphin on the cover. And it is really rough to read on a sentence-by-sentence level: loaded with tiresome exposition, clumsy world-building, absolutely atrocious dialogue, juvenile sexual content.So, then, I simultaneously really didn't like reading it and enjoyed the heck out of it. The premise is certainly audacious -- in Galactic history, no race has ever achieved sentience and spaceflight without being "uplifted" by a patron race... except for humans, who even managed to perform a few uplifts of their own, creating super-intelligent dolphins to... pilot their... spaceships. For some reason.Even though being a dolphin doesn't seem to change how a character thinks in comparison to a human, Brin still puts a lot of effort into developing their society. Like everything else about this book, I am of two minds about this element: I respect the lengths Brin goes to, and yet I find his choices incredibly silly and annoying. For example, the dolphins have been genetically modified to speak English screw it, I don't care Anglic, but the language gives them pause, so they stutter. So all their dialogue has extra consonants. Which is still preferable to their native tongue, Trinany, which is, obviously, Flipper-type screeches, which it turns out are actually, when translated, quite poetic and haiku-like. There are a bunch of humans who can speak Trinary too, and I am really glad they never made this into the movie that was planned in the '80s, because it would be even more ridiculous if I had to see it rather than just roll my eyes as I read about it.One thing I did appreciate was the surprisingly limited scope of the story; despite the length, the plot is this: ship is damaged in a firefight, ship crashes on a waterworld (thank goodness!) and must be repaired, and any escape must avoid the now-warring factions of the various pursuers that are hanging out in orbit. I liked it mostly because it resulted in a 100-page climactic action/escape sequence that managed to be the most interesting part of the book. I did not it because it also provided lots of pages for narrative dead ends and dolphin sex scenes, which aren't the selling point you might imagine. At least, not for me.