Jacob Demois has been working with the uplifted dolphins when he is approached by Fagan, an ET he has known for some time. Fagan introduces Demois to some of the staff on the Sundiver project. Sundiver is just what its name says, a special refrigerated spaceship that can enter the outer layers of the sun's atmospheres. Fagan's goal is to get Jacob to join the crew as they return to Mercury and their ship for more dives.
Demois is intrigued. He leaves the dolphin project and joins Sundiver, along with Fagan, two other ETs, and the human staff. Living beings have been discovered in the outer layers of the sun. The next task is to discover if these beings are sentient. The next question is: if sentient, did these beings have anything to do with the humans early history on Earth. Did they perhaps uplift the humans? Are they responsible for the mental disturbances and deaths on Sundiver?
Uplifting is the universal process of one extraterrestrial being discovering another non-sentient being and genetically altering that new species until they are also sentient. The universe is full of aged parental beings with their families of uplifted offspring. Each offspring race must spend a few million years in slavery before attaining higher status themselves and be allowed to uplift yet another race. Then Humans from Earth were discovered. This race does not fit into the universal mold because they seem to have lifted themselves into sentiency rather than having a parental group. Since Humans have uplifted chimpanzees and dolphins into communicating sentiency, they are automatically a parental race despite their comparative youth in the Universe.
I didn't realize until after I finished the novel that there are a series of Uplift novels. This one is quite good. Demois is a great protagonist. He was a risk-taker until his wife died in one of his rescues. Now he is torn into two parts and has trouble reconciling the two. He is well drawn. The ETs are also brought to life. Fagan is described early in the novel as a talking brocolli. His description remains consistent all the way throughout until I could picture him hanging upside down from the spaceship floor/ceiling at the end.
The science is believable fiction, based on the most current knowledge of physics. Yet this novel is based on the story and the science is the background that holds it together. I may have to look for more of these novels in the future.
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