Uplift Universe

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The Uplift Universe is a fictional universe created by science fiction writer David Brin. A central feature in this universe is the process of biological uplift.

His books which take place in this universe are:

There is also a short story "Aficionado" (originally titled "Life in the Extreme"), published in 1998, which serves as a prequel to the series as a whole (it also serves as a part of Existence, an unrelated work by Brin), and a novella Temptation published in 1999 in Far Horizons, which follows on from Heaven's Reach. Brin also wrote Contacting Aliens: An Illustrated Guide To David Brin's Uplift Universe which is a guidebook about the background of the series.

At least one more Uplift book is planned by the author, as Brin has stated that Temptation "will be a core element of the next Uplift novel... and answers several unresolved riddles left over from Heaven's Reach." [6]

GURPS Uplift is a sourcebook for a science fiction themed role-playing game based on the Uplift Universe. It includes a few stories that happen in Jijo after the end of Heaven's Reach.

Setting[edit]

In the Uplift universe an intergalactic civilization called the Five Galaxies, comprising a multitude of sentient races, has existed for billions of years. This civilization is perpetuated by the act of Uplift, in which a "patron" species genetically modifies a Pre-sapient "client" species until it is sapient. The client species is typically indentured to its patron species for 100,000 years. A patron species gains considerable status, and patrons and clients often unite into powerful clans. Patron status can be lost due to extermination, or gross crimes against the galactic civilization.

It is generally accepted in this universe that the process of Uplift was initiated at least one billion years ago by a species known only as the Progenitors. Humanity is therefore a rare anomaly – a species with no apparent patron race. Whether humanity truly evolved independently, or whether it was criminally abandoned by an unknown patron early in its uplift, is a topic of fierce debate. Most of humanity believes itself to be a wolfling species that emerged into sapiency solely through natural evolution, without genetic manipulation of a patron species. This belief is considered heresy and ridiculous by most of the galactic civilization and has made most of the galactic powers enemies of EarthClan. The fact that Humanity had already uplifted two species (chimpanzees and bottlenose dolphins) when it encountered the galactic civilization gave Humanity patron status, which is one of the few lucky turns it has had in its difficult position as pariah in the galactic civilization. This saved humanity from the likely fate of becoming client to another race through forced adoption or being exterminated for the environmental damage done to the Earth and its native species.

Humanity and its clients are collectively known as EarthClan. Humanity in the Uplift universe is not a dominant nor a technologically advanced species – it is centuries, even millennia, behind the great galactic powers and has several enemies capable of exterminating mankind.

The civilization of the Five Galaxies has several Institutes which are bureaucracies that specify how species deal with each other and the uplift process. One of the most significant of these is the Library Institute, which is the repository of all knowledge. Humanity prides itself on using the Library as little as possible. For instance, instead of drawing upon the highly refined starship designs available in the Library, humanity tends to develop its own (generally vastly inferior) vessels. Humans generally feel that this is a way to exercise their own independence and creativity, and it occasionally allows them to find solutions to problems which surprise more powerful races.

The Institute of Migration determines what planets can be colonized and under what environmental restrictions primarily to ensure that suitable races can still evolve for later Uplift. The Institute also ensures the separation of the hydrogen-breathing and oxygen-breathing orders of sentient life. Other intergalactic institutes regulate the uplift of sentient species, navigation, warfare, etc. Bureaucrats are recruited from all races but are expected to put the interests of their bureau before that of their race and maintain strict neutrality; however, this does not always happen.

The civilization of the Five Galaxies is made up of oxygen-breathing species. This oxygen-breathing civilization is aware of, but by tradition rarely interacts with, the other orders of sapient life, which include hydrogen-breathing, transcendent, mechanical, memetic, and quantum. There is also a designation for Hypothetical orders of life which could also exist.

Technology[edit]

Unlike most other races, Humans and their clients regard creativity as very desirable – most other races take the view that everything useful has already been discovered, so it's more efficient to search the Galactic Library for whatever they need. EarthClan are also considered odd for using archaic technology in addition to the more advanced Galactic technology, or sometimes preferring primitive technologies that they understand to more advanced ones that they don't yet understand.[7]

Social behavior[edit]

Most Galactic "clans" are rather feudal and sometimes exploitative, and place strong emphasis on etiquette and especially on deferential behavior by members of "subordinate" races towards members of "superior" races. Hence they often regard the EarthClan's informal speech as insulting and the Human's egalitarian treatment of their Neo-Chimp and Neo-Dolphin clients as foolish.[7]

Languages[edit]

Most of EarthClan speaks Anglic. Galactics have several specialized languages:[8]

  • Gal One - Purely mathematical and similar to Morse code. Slowest.
  • Gal Two - Bridging language.
  • Gal Three - Squeaks and honks. Favored by the Gubru.
  • Gal Four - Sonar based.
  • Gal Five - Grunts and growls. Used by the T'4Lek.
  • Gal Six - Hisses. Synthians and Thennians.[7]
  • Gal Seven - Tone language. Tymbrimi.
  • Gal Eight - Hoots and honks. Jophur and Rosh.
  • Gal Nine - Chiming, syncopated. Kanten, Linten, Siqul.
  • Gal Ten - Fluting, sonar-like. Brothers of the Night.
  • Gal Eleven - Bridging language. Cautious, redundant. Used between different Orders.
  • Gal Twelve - Throaty, used by the Soro. 2 billion years old.

Planets[edit]

The following planets feature in the books, from the many, many thousands of inhabited planets in the setting:

  • Calafia A water-world inhabited by humans and neo-dolphins, currently occupied by the Soro. The name may refer to Calafia, a mythical Black Amazon.
  • Cathrhennlin A Tymbrimi University World.
  • Deemi A world leased to humans on the condition that they run the Galactic prison. It is bathed in ultraviolet radiation. Most of its biosphere is aquatic.
  • Garth The main setting of the novel The Uplift War, which depicts its invasion by the Gubru. The planet was leased to EarthClan after its ecology was devastated by the Bururalli species, and is inhabited by humans and neo-chimpanzees. Its star is called Gimelhai, and its main city is Port Helenia.
  • Horst A disaster world, assigned to Humanity less than 6 generations before the Streaker crisis, and populated by primitivists.
  • Jijo The main setting of the novels Brightness Reef, Infinity's Shore, and Heaven's Reach. It is a planet orbiting a carbon star in Galaxy 4, illegally inhabited by refugees from ten species: humans, chimpanzees, dolphins, Hoon, G'Kek, Urs, Traeki, Glavers, Qheuen, and Tytlal. It is also used as a refuge by the EarthClan starship Streaker. Brin uses the mix of species to explore commonalities of the sapient experience; for example Hoon Alvin Hph-Wayuo is a humicker,an imitator of human culture.[citation needed]
  • Jophekka The homeworld of the Jophur, sapient and ambitious sap ring stacks.
  • Juthtath A Tymbrimi world.
  • Kazzkark Minor planet, where an important base of the Navigation Institute gathers data from E-Space.
  • Kithrup The main setting of the novel Startide Rising, where the EarthClan starship Streaker takes refuge from its many pursuers. It is a metal-rich, watery world orbiting the star Kthsemenee. It is inhabited by the pre-sapient Kiqui, and serves as the recuperation home for the psionic Karrank%.
  • NuDawn A pre-Contact colony (whose name may be a pun with Aurora - New Dawn) where an incident with Hoon inspectors brought Jophur to massacre the human colonists.
  • Oakka A "green-green" world, where the air is difficult to breathe. There was a Library branch there, but they were corrupted and tried to capture Streaker.
  • Omnivarium A world inhabited by birds that mimic any sound, a fact discovered when the birds started mimicking the sounds of explorers performing coitus.
  • Tanith The location of the nearest full Galactic Library branch near Terra.
  • Urchachka A very dry planet, homeland of the Urs.
  • Shokodo A pre-Contact colony, covered in snow at all times during the year.

Alien Species & Humans[edit]

EarthClan[edit]

EarthClan is the name of Humanity and their Clients (an animal or plant species being uplifted) in David Brin's Uplift Universe. They are named for their combined homeworld Earth.

In the books Humanity is an insignificant race, having no known Patrons (a species responsible for uplifting them) and having mostly primitive technology. Humans have two (confirmed) clients and are referred to formally as "a-Human ul-Chimpanzee ul-Dolphin". However in being Patrons, Humanity has unknowingly protected itself from being forced into becoming a client of an older race.

Humans[edit]

Humans in the Uplift universe are surprisingly baseline. Advanced augmentative technologies exist, but appear to be too expensive or socially frowned upon to be in widespread use. So, while cybernetics, advanced genetic engineering, and other technology capable of creating trans-humans exists, it is not in widespread use as very few characters are portrayed using such technologies.

Neo-Chimpanzees[edit]

Chimpanzees are the first clients of Humans and are the most "complete" in that they are closest to full sapiency. They are Stage 2 clients but almost became Stage 3 when the Gubru invaded Garth.[9] Neo-Chimpanzees like music, specifically percussion. They are embarrassed by situations which remind them of their earlier status as "smart animals", especially about nudity, tree-climbing and above all losing their ability to speak when under stress.[7]

Neo-Dolphins[edit]

Dolphins are the second clients of Humans, and are some of the best pilots in the Five Galaxies because their aquatic origins give them excellent instincts for 3-D maneuvers. They are also important in planetary warfare because most Galactics are unaware of the strategic potential of the sea. Neo-Dolphins are Stage-2 Clients, and recently got their own Starship, Streaker (Streaker's discoveries later caused controversy among the oxygen-breathing sapient species). Neo-Dolphins are at a relatively early stage of Uplift, and this has several consequences which are important in the plots of the stories: the optimal genetic mix for Neo-Dolphins has not yet been determined, and some of the newer genetic mixes become dangerous to colleagues when under stress; there are significant differences between older and younger Neo-Dolphins, in particular older individuals find it more difficult to speak; and they have to struggle against tendencies to slip into atavistic behaviours such as the Whale Dream and rescue fever (which leads them to beach themselves).[7]

Neo-Gorillas[edit]

Neo-Gorillas were at a very early stage of Uplift when the Galactic Uplift Institute ordered humans to halt the process, because they were concerned that humans could not manage so many Uplift projects at the same time. Some humans secretly continued the project on the small colony-world of Garth. Neo-Gorillas have some understanding that they are being uplifted, and chose the Thennanin as their "patrons" at a ceremony on Garth. This is politically very important, as the conservative and conscientious Thennanin are a major military power and the Neo-Gorillas' choice converts the Thennanin from enemies to allies of EarthClan. After adoption by the Thennanin, the Neo-Gorillas are termed "Garthlings."[9]

Neo-Dogs[edit]

Dogs have been mentioned as a possible client of Humanity in several books, but their final adoption has not been confirmed.

Other Clans (of Aliens)[edit]

The Jophur[edit]

The Jophur are a fictional extraterrestrial race from Uplift Universe. Physically, they are a stack of waxy, living rings. Each ring serves a different purpose, and they connect to each other to form a single being by chemical means via an electrically conductive, sap-like substance that flows down the center to bind the stack together. A Master ring provides a strong sense of individuality to each stack and enforces this with corrective electrical shocks to non-compliant rings.

The Jophur were originally the traeki, intelligent but often indecisive because of internal debates between the rings that formed each individual. Their patrons, the Poa, asked the Oallie to engineer the traeki further to increase their effectiveness. The Oailie created 'master rings', shiny black rings (often described as 'silvery') that created a strong sense of self-identity. The newly invigorated Jophur, as the traeki with the new master rings were called, quickly became a strong, vigorous force in the Five Galaxies.

According to various books in the series, most prominently the trilogy that followed the characters of Startide Rising, the Jophur quickly began a genocide and eradicated all but a small group of the original traeki, with the exception of a small "Sooner" group that settled on the planet Jijo in the fourth galaxy ("Sooner" is a term from USA history, and is used in the Uplift stories to described illegal settlers on worlds that have been declared fallow, i.e. to be left uncolonized so that native intelligences may have a chance to develop). The Jophur became fanatical adherents of one of the galaxy's religious ideologies, and exterminated many races they regarded as "heretics" – including the g'Kek, which also survived only as a "Sooner" group on Jijo.

Kiqui[edit]

Kiqui are a pre-sapient amphibious species first discovered on the planet Kithrup by Streaker’s crew, who persuade them to be uplifted as clients of the humans. If this goes ahead, the Kiqui would become humanity's first extraterrestrial clients.

Plot outline and major themes[edit]

Ecology and stewardship of genetic diversity are major themes in the Uplift books. Religious orthodoxy and the behavior of static societies are also themes.

The first book in the Uplift series, Sundiver (1980), is essentially a detective story and occurs only decades after humanity's first contact with the Five Galaxies. In this story mankind discovers the sun's inhabitants and a plot to overthrow a patron race. This is the only novel to directly involve Earth.

The second book, Startide Rising (1983), occurs centuries later. It follows the Earthclan amphibious space ship Streaker (crewed by uplifted dolphins and their human patrons) which has discovered a colossal derelict fleet. The Streaker is pursued as rumors spread throughout the Five Galaxies that Streaker has found the remains of the Progenitors.

The third book, The Uplift War (1987), occurs around the same time as Startide Rising but in another part of the galaxy. An intergalactic war, sparked by the events of Startide Rising, results in a successful invasion of the Earthclan colony on the planet Garth, heavily populated by uplifted chimps.

In 1995 Brightness Reef was published, the first book in a new Uplift trilogy. The "Uplift Storm" trilogy follows the survivors of the space ship Streaker as they continue to evade the various galactic powers. Along the way they encounter a hidden planet which has been inhabited by six races which have illegally settled and dropped out of the civilization of the Five Galaxies. They eventually make contact with the other orders of life. The second and third books in the new Uplift trilogy are Infinity's Shore and Heaven's Reach.

The short story "Aficionado" or "Life in the Extreme" is set earliest of all the currently written work and gives an account of the early days of the human uplift program before Contact.

The novella Temptation was set just after the ending of Heaven's Reach, and tells what happened to some of the characters from the trilogy after the main story ended.

Timeline[edit]

Below is a summarized timeline for events detailed in the Uplift Universe, which corresponds to the Gregorian Calendar:[10]

Date Event
2212 Contact with Galactic Civilization.
2246 Sundiver Incident.
2489 Events of Startide Rising.
2492 Post Uplift War.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "1983 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-07-17. 
  2. ^ "1984 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-07-17. 
  3. ^ "1987 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-07-17. 
  4. ^ "1988 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-07-17. 
  5. ^ "1996 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-07-17. 
  6. ^ "THE UPLIFT NOVELS". Retrieved 2012-02-28. 
  7. ^ a b c d e Brin, D. (1983). Startide Rising. Bantam Books. ISBN 0-553-23495-1. 
  8. ^ Brin, David; Lenagh, Kevin (2002). Contacting aliens : an illustrated guide to David Brin's uplift universe. New York, N.Y.: Bantam Books. pp. 23–24. ISBN 9780553377965. 
  9. ^ a b Brin, D. (1987). The Uplift War. Phantasia Press. ISBN 0-932096-44-1. 
  10. ^ GURPS Uplift, Second edition, p.9 and Contacting Aliens, p.7 - 14

External links[edit]


The Uplift series
Sundiver (1980) | Startide Rising (1983) | The Uplift War (1987)
Uplift Storm trilogy
Brightness Reef (1995) | Infinity's Shore (1996) | Heaven's Reach (1998)