Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Uplift War

By David Brin

Garth is a planet that was abused greatly by its previous tenants has been granted to humans and neochimps to colonize. Their mission is to provide a home for a growing colony of neochimps and to restore and bring into balance the planet's ecology. It's just too bad they end up as pawns in an interstellar conflict.
Although the humans and neochimps put up a gallant defense against the Gubru invaders, they are out-gunned and out-numbered and soon the Gubru are ruling the roost, literally. (Gubru are bird-like beings who like being on a perch.) Their purpose in seizing Garth is to blackmail Earth into doing what the Gubru want. Failing that, they will use the inhabitants of Garth to prove that humans don't deserve to be Galactic citizens and that humans should be indentured to a more advanced, superior race, like the Gubru. Also that humans are botching the Uplift (genetic engineering) of chimps to neochimps and that someone more qualified should take over the neochimps' Uplift. Someone like, oh, I don't know, maybe...the Gubru?
Well, the Gubru might think they are an advanced Galactic culture, but basically they are out to get whatever they can. And if it means gassing humans and destroying forests and imprisoning and brainwashing neochimps and holding entire worlds hostage, well, that's just too bad. The Gubru may look like a flock of birdbrains but they are a ruthless bunch of intergalactic baddies.

This was an OK story. It was too long and slow, I thought. The romance between one of the main characters and an alien girl was not very satisfying and also kind of disturbing. The neochimps came off as too human. And I never did understand the whole thing about the gorillas coming into the Gubru-controlled town and crashing some ceremony intended to raise neochimps to Galactic citizenhood. And, strangely enough, even though the Gubru are stinkers, I felt sorry for the way it turned out for them in the end. It felt like a real lost opportunity for something wonderful and magnificent.

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