Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Brightness Reef

By David Brin

Book One of Brin's new uplift trilogy.
The planet Jijo used to be inhabited by the Buyur, but they left it long ago and now it is set aside, a forbidden world, not to be colonized, allowed to go fallow. But nonetheless, six groups of refugees, human and nonhuman, have snuck onto Jijo and are living together, in cooperation, trying their best to minimize their impact on the environment and creatures of Jijo. And also trying to hide from the galactic authorities. So when a ship lands on Jijo, the squatters, or sooners as they are called in the book, are sure they are in deep trouble.
Everyone is thrown into turmoil. Some want everything destroyed. Some think all should flee into the wilderness. Some want to just wait and see what will happen next. Beings are frightened and old antagonisms reappear. But wait! This ship is not from the authorities. It is a bunch of criminals, come to Jijo to raid the planet for lifeforms. But is this any better? Perhaps not because criminals don't like to leave any witnesses to their crimes!

This first entry in the new trilogy seems to go off into a dozen different directions. There are five different ETs living on Jijo, plus the humans. So not only does the reader have to keep track of all these characters, you also have to keep in mind their species too. There is the traeki, a pharmacist called Asx. The traeki are a peaceful version of the fanatical Jophur. There is the mixed group of juveniles, Alvin, Huck, Ur-ronn, Pincer-tip, who are building a submersible to explore the sea bottom. There are the three adult children of a human paper maker, Sara, Lark and Dwer, who each have their plot line to follow. Sara is taking the injured, off-world human who was found wandering in a swamp to the people from the spaceship. Lark is helping one of the spaceship people in a survey trek of the area. And Dwer is leading a small group of humans to the back country, hopefully to survive whatever the spaceship people may be planning to cover their tracks. Plus there are the spaceship people and there is the group at the Holy Egg to keep track of and there is a back country girl, Rety, who has joined the ship people for a chance to get off Jijo. There is a lot going on in this story, so much so that at times I felt kind of lost and bewildered.  It was just too much to keep track of!
But despite the confusion, I still enjoyed the book quite a lot. And I am looking forward to the next in the trilogy, Infinity's Shore.

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