Brightness Reef by David Brin
Jijo is a planet that has been declared off limits to all beings in the universe for millions of years so it can lay fallow and replenish itself again. That makes it attractive to people who are trying to escape their own races or cultures and return to a simpler, natural life. Six races have snuck ontil Jijo. The most recent are humans.
The six have warred in the past, but have finally achieved a global peace. The races are very different – g’Keks move on wheels; hoon are slow and patient, but when angered are unstoppable; traeki are slow multiple minded creatures who work things through and communicate by extruding scents; qheuen are a shellfish type being who can survive under water and must always be near it; and urs are four legged creatures with arms that are very warlike and remind humans of centaurs. They are all different in ideals and world views as well as appearances and physical attributes. Their global peace was hard won and is still fragile.
When a rogue spaceship appears over Jijo, the quiet life they know changes. Humans are in the ship. They are here to steal DNA to create new races for uplifting. They study Jijo and enlist the locals to help them do their research. The leaders of the six are biding their time. Are the researchers going to eliminate them or leave Jijo quietly and ignore the renegades who live quietly on the planet? The six are ready to destroy their own centuries of work if needed to hide their presence on the supposedly fallow planet. But they don’t want to be destroyed themselves.
Brightness Reef is a very frustrating book. It is the first of an Uplift Trilogy based on Jijo. It is nearly 700 pages long and nothing…is…resolved. I didn’t realize that and the closer I got to the end the more I wondered how David Brin was going to tie it together. He doesn’t – in Brightness Reef. The next book, Infinity’s Shore, is just as long, and there is still a third book after that, Heaven’s Reach.
There were times I was sucked into the action of the novel. But there are times when it drags as well. A review I saw somewhere says the trilogy needs an editor’s heavier hand. That would have been helpful. Some of the scenes are good for background but some are filler. I don’t know if I’ll finish this trilogy or not. Sometimes it felt like the book would never end. Can I continue that? I’ll give it a few months before I decide.
I like David Brin’s work. I could see his brilliance in Brightness Reef but not enough to keep me pulled in. Perhaps I’ll move on to Glory Season next.
Notice: Non-graphic violence