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One of Brin's novels of the future universe where humanity has become part of a galactic culture of species Uplifting each other from pre-sapience to civilisation, homo sapiens being unique in that we achieved that status without external intervention.

The book is fun in a lot of ways - smart humans and chimps, and their allies, manage to overcome the prejudices and wishful thinking of the more nasty aliens. The most sympathetic male characters get to have sex (more or less) with the most sympathetic female characters. There is a lovely plot twist involving gorillas.

But I have to say the book is not one I can recommend. Partly it is that the humans (and their allies) rarely lose a battle or an argument; we are rather compelled to cheer for our boys. But more seriously, I think the novel's take on race issues is naïve and complacent. The intelligent chimpanzee characters are not allowed to rebel from the human agenda, yet disply no resentment of the control exerted over them, including their reproductive rights. Those who do make common cause with humanity's enemies get their come-uppance. (The only Bad Human who displays racial and gender prejudice is explicitly South Asian.) I think I would have been happier if the book had explored colonialism and race a little more profoundly. And my own thoughts on this have been very helpfully informed by the various racefail discussions of this time last year.

The only other Hugo nominee of that year (1988 awards, for 1987 publications) which I have read is Orson Scott Card's Seventh Son, which I guess is an even more blatant presentation of an American myth in genre terms. The other nominees were When Gravity Fails by George Alec Effinger, The Forge of God by Greg Bear, and The Urth of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe. The Uplift War was also shortlisted for the 1987 Nebula but beaten by The Falling Woman by Pat Murphy, a much shorter and much better book.

Top LibraryThing Unsuggestion: New Moon by Stephenie Meyer!

Comments

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
nancylebov
Jan. 23rd, 2010 02:15 pm (UTC)
Afaik, it's the last piece of science fiction written from the point of view that humans are naturally superior to aliens.

If you want a break from racial issues, try tracking Card's pathology about father/son relationships.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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