Read the first few chapters online, or scroll down to purchase HEAVEN'S REACH.
"ONE spiral represents the fallow worlds, slowly brewing, steeping, stewing — where life starts its long, hard climb. Struggling out of that fecundity, new races emerge, ripe for Uplift." — Heaven's Reach
In the final book in the Uplift Trilogy, Heaven's Reach, the brutal enemy that has relentlessly pursued them for centuries has arrived. Now the fugitive settlers of Jijo — both human and alien — brace for a final confrontation. The Jijoans' only hope is the Earthship Streaker, crewed by uplifted dolphins and commanded by an untested human.
Yet more than just the fate of Jijo hangs in the balance. For Streaker carries a cargo of ancient artifacts that may unlock the secret of those who first brought intelligent life to the Galaxies. Many believe a dire prophecy has come to pass: an age of terrifying changes that could end Galactic civilization.
As dozens of white dwarf stars stand ready to explode, the survival of sentient life in the universe rests on the most improbable dream of all — that age-old antagonists of different races can at last recognize the unity of all consciousness.
The uplift series of novels and short stories is set in a future universe in which no species can reach sentience without being "uplifted" (genetically brought to sapience) by a patron race, which then "owns" the uplifted species for 100,000 years. But the greatest mystery of all remains unsolved: who uplifted humankind? Earth has no known link to the Progenitors — and that terrifies client and patron species alike. Should its inhabitants be allowed to exist?
indiebound.org US: paperback
Kobo.com US: ebook
Powell's US: paperback
Is Existence: an uplift "prequel"? In many ways, yes. David Brin's bold newest novel explores the ultimate question: Billions of planets may be ripe for life, even intelligence. So where is Everybody?
An illustrated companion to the series, Contacting Aliens: An Illustrated Guide To David Brin's Uplift Universe, is a fun tour of the many alien races in the Uplift Universe.
Learn more about all of Brin's novels and books here.
These three stories are set in the uplift universe. Learn more about all of Brin's shorter fiction here.
Heaven's Reach has been translated into Bulgarian, French, German, Italian, Russian, Serbian, and Spanish. Here are some of the covers of the foreign and foreign-language publications.
"Heaven's Reach is, by far, the most wildly inventive of the six Uplift novels. Ideas that would fill up other novels, or entire trilogies, rocket past the reader at a rate of knots: the Fractal World (a fresh spin on the Dyson Sphere idea), a cluster of space habitats circling a white dwarf so fast that time slows down, memetic entities, hydrogen-based lifeforms and many more concepts are on display here, Brin unleashing them with fiendish glee. The Uplift universe has already been established as a colourful, epic setting packed with thousands of sentient races and lots of cool ideas, but Heaven's Reach brings it up to the next level and does so in a readable, gripping manner."
"Take it from me, the book is jam-packed with incidents like no other since Dan Simmon's first two Hyperion books. Brin makes sure the reader arrives at the end breathless and more than a little emotionally burnt out. Satisfaction is there, too, that Heaven's Reach supplies a good closure to the main story of Streaker, though there are enough loose ends to fill a third trilogy of books, if Brin so wishes."
"An excellent ending to a challenging series. Leaves things open for more stories if Brin ever wanted to revisit all these years later. The concepts are mind-blowing while still grounding much of the story in characterization even when — or, perhaps, especially — dealing with interspecies relations. Enjoyed the ride!"
"Brin, as usual, provides loads of action as he presents a galactic panorama to view and intellectual speculation to challenge the reader."
David Brin's science fiction novels have been New York Times Bestsellers, winning multiple Hugo, Nebula and other awards. At least a dozen have been translated into more than twenty languages. They range from bold and prophetic explorations of our near-future to Brin's Uplift series, envisioning galactic issues of sapience and destiny (and star-faring dolphins!). Learn More
Short stories and novellas have different rhythms and artistic flavor, and Brin's short stories and novellas, several of which earned Hugo and other awards, exploit that difference to explore a wider range of real and vividly speculative ideas. Many have been selected for anthologies and reprints, and most have been published in anthology form. Learn More
Since 2004, David Brin has maintained a blog about science, technology, science fiction, books, and the future — themes his science fiction and nonfiction writings continue to explore. Learn More
Who could've predicted that social media — indeed, all of our online society — would play such an important role in the 21st Century — restoring the voices of advisors and influencers! Lively and intelligent comments spill over onto Brin's social media pages. Learn More
David Brin's Ph.D in Physics from the University of California at San Diego (the lab of nobelist Hannes Alfven) followed a masters in optics and an undergraduate degree in astrophysics from Caltech. Every science show that depicts a comet now portrays the model developed in Brin's PhD research. Learn More
Brin's non-fiction book, The Transparent Society: Will Technology Force Us to Choose Between Freedom and Privacy?, continues to receive acclaim for its accuracy in predicting 21st Century concerns about online security, secrecy, accountability and privacy. Learn More
Brin speaks plausibly and entertainingly about trends in technology and society to audiences willing to confront the challenges that our rambunctious civilization will face in the decades ahead. He also talks about the field of science fiction, especially in relation to his own novels and stories. To date he has presented at more than 200 meetings, conferences, corporate retreats and other gatherings.Learn More
Brin advises corporations and governmental and private defense- and security-related agencies about information-age issues, scientific trends, future social and political trends, and education. Past consultations include Google, Microsoft, Procter & Gamble, and many others. Learn More
Do not enter if you want a standard "Party" line! Contrary Brin's community pokes at too-rigid orthodoxies, proposing ideas and topics that fascinate and infuriate.
reviews and recommendations
"David Brin is notable for unquenchable optimism, focusing on the ability of humanity to overcome adversity."
"Fully dimensional and engaging characters with plausible motivations bring drama to these scenarios. Brin's exciting prose style will probably make this a Hugo nominee, and will certainly keep readers turning pages."
— Publishers Weekly
"New tech is handing society tough decisions to make anew about old issues of privacy and accountability. In opting for omni-directional openness, David Brin takes an unorthodox position, arguing knowledgeably and with exceptionally balanced perspective."
— Stewart Brand, Director of Global Business Network
"Science fiction fans were finally given what they crave: Real science explained and possible science dreamed, all wrapped up in an excellent story. After reading it, you feel like you've done an A-level and experienced a cultural event. Daring yet plausible, challenging yet rewarding, it raised the bar for grown-up alien contact sci-fi."
— The Sun (UK) Best of 2012
WHAT EMBLEMS grace the fine prows of our fast ships?
How many spirals swirl on the bow of each great vessel, turning round and round, symbolizing our connections? How many are the links that form our union?
ONE spiral represents the fallow worlds, slowly brewing, steeping, stewing — where life starts its long, hard climb.
Struggling out of that fecundity, new races emerge, ripe for Uplift.
TWO is for starfaring culture, streaking madly in our starships, first as clients, then as patrons, vigorously chasing our young interests — trading, fighting, and debating —
Straining upward, till we hear the call of beckoning tides.
THREE portrays the Old Ones, graceful and serene, who forsake starships to embrace a life of contemplation. Tired of manic rushing. Cloistering for self-improvement.
They prepare to face the Great Harrower.
FOUR depicts the High Transcendents, too majestic for us to perceive. But they exist!
Making plans that encompass all levels of space, and all times.
FIVE is for the galaxies — great whirls of shining light — our islands in a sterile cosmos, surrounded by enigmatic silence. On and on they spin, nurturing all life's many orders, linked perpetually, everlasting.
Or so we are assured....
Alarms sing a variety of melodies.
Some shriek for attention, yanking you awake from deathlike repose. Others send your veins throbbing with adrenaline. Aboard any space vessel there are sirens and wails that portend collision, vacuum leaks, or a myriad other kinds of impending death.
But the alarm tugging at Harry Harms wasn't like that. Its creepy ratchet scraped lightly along the nerves.
"No rush," the soft buzzer seemed to murmur. "I can wait.
"But don't even think about going back to sleep."
Harry rolled over to squint blearily at the console next to his pillow. Glowing symbols beckoned meaningfully. But the parts of his brain that handled reading weren't perfectly designed. They took a while to warm up.
"Guh..." he commented. "Wuh?"
Drowsiness clung to his body, still exhausted after another long, solitary watch. How many duras had passed since he tumbled into the bunk, vowing to quit his commission when this tour of duty ended?
Sleep had come swiftly, but not restfully. Dreams always filled Harry's slumber, here in E Space.
In fact, dreaming was part of the job.
In REM-state, Harry often revisited the steppes of Horst, where a dusty horizon had been his constant background in childhood. A forlorn world, where ponderous dark clouds loomed and flickered, yet held tightly to their moisture, sharing little with the parched ground. He usually woke from such visions with a desiccated mouth, desperate for water.
Other dreams featured Earth — jangling city-planet, brimming with tall humans — its skyscrapers and lush greenery stamped in memory by one brief visit, ages ago, in another life.
Then there were nightmares about ships — great battlecraft and moonlike invasion arks — glistening by starlight or cloaked in the dark glow of their terrible fields. Wraithlike frigates, looming more eerie and terrifying than real life.
Those were the more normal dream images to come creeping in, whenever his mind had room between far stranger apparitions. For the most part, Harry's night thoughts were filled with spinning, dizzying allaphors, which billowed and muttered in the queer, half logic of E Space. Even his shielded quarters weren't impervious to tendrils of counterreality, penetrating the bulkheads, groping through his sleep. No wonder he woke disoriented, shaken by the grating alarm.
Harry stared at the glowing letters — each twisting like some manic, living hieroglyph, gesticulating in the ideogrammatic syntax of Galactic Language Number Seven. Concentrating, he translated the message into the Anglic of his inner thoughts.
"Great," Harry commented in a dry voice.
Apparently, the patrol vessel had come aground again.
"Oh, that's just fine."
The buzzer increased its tempo. Pushing out of bed, Harry landed barefoot on the chill deck plates, shivering.
"And to think... they tell me I got an aptitude for this kind of work."
In other words, you had to be at least partway crazy to be suited for his job.
Shaking lethargy, he clambered up a ladder to the observing platform just above his quarters -- a hexagonal chamber, ten meters across, with a control panel in the center. Groping toward the alarm cutoff, Harry somehow managed not to set off any armaments, or purge the station's atmosphere into E Space, before slapping the right switch. The maddening noise abruptly ceased.
"Ah..." he sighed, and almost fell asleep again right there, standing behind the padded command chair.
But then... if sleep did come, he might start dreaming again.
I never understood Hamlet till they assigned me here. Now I figure, Shakespeare must've glimpsed E Space, before writing that "to be or not to be" stuff.
...perchance to dream...
Yup, ol' Willie must've known there's worse things than death.
Scratching his belly, Harry scanned the status board. No red lights burned. The station appeared functional. No major reality leaks were evident. With a sigh, he moved around to perch on the seat.
"Monitor Mode. Report station status."
The holo display lit up, projecting a floating blue M, sans serif. A melodious voice emanated from the slowly revolving letter.
"Monitor mode. Station integrity is nominal. An alarm has been acknowledged by station superintendent Harry Harms at 4:48:52 internal subjective estimate time..."
"I'm Harry Harms. Why don't you tell me something I don't know, like what the alarm's for, you shaggy excuse for a baldie's toup...ah...ah..."
A sneeze tore through Harry's curse. He wiped his eyes with the back of a hirsute wrist.
"The alarm denoted an interruption in our patrol circuit of E Level hyperspace," the monitor continued, unperturbed. "The station has apparently become mired in an anomaly region."
"You mean we're grounded on a reef. I already knew that much. But what kind of..." he muttered. "Oh, never mind. I'll go see for myself."
Harry ambled over to a set of vertical louvered blinds — one of six banks that rimmed the hexagonal chamber — and slipped a fingertip between two of the slats, prying them apart to make a narrow slit opening. He hesitated, then brought one eye forward to peer outside.
The station appeared to be shaped in its standard format, at least. Not like a whale, or jellyfish, or amorphous blob, thank Ifni. Sometimes this continuum had effects on physical objects that were gruesomely bizarre, or even fatal.
On this occasion the control chamber still perched like a glass cupola atop an oblate white spheroid, commanding a 360-degree view of a vast metaphorical realm -- a dubious, dangerous, but seldom monotonous domain.
Jagged black mountains bobbed in the distance, like ebony icebergs, majestically traversing what resembled an endless sea of purple grass. The "sky" was a red-blue shade that could only be seen on E Level. It had holes in it.
So far so good.
Harry spread the slats wider to take in the foreground, and blinked in surprise at what he saw. The station rested on a glistening, slick-brown surface. Spread across this expanse, for what might be a kilometer in all directions, lay a thick scattering of giant yellow starfish!
At least that was his first impression. Harry rushed to another bank of curtains and peeked again. More "starfish" lay on that side as well, dispersed randomly, but thickly enough to show no easy route past.
"Damn." From experience he knew it would be useless to try flying over the things. If they represented two dimensional obstacles, they must be overcome in a two dimensional way. That was how allaphorical logic worked in this zone of E Space.
Harry went back to the control board and touched a button. All the blinds retracted, revealing an abrupt panoramic view. Mountains and purple grass in the distance. Brown slickness closer in.
And yes, the station was completely surrounded by starfish. Yellow starfish everywhere.
"Pfeh." Harry shivered. Most of the jaundiced monsters had six arms, though some had five or seven. They didn't appear to be moving. That, at least, was a relief. Harry hated ambulatory allaphors.
"Pilot mode!" He commanded.
With a faint crackling, the floating helvetica M was replaced by a jaunty, cursive P.
"Aye aye, o' Person-Commander. Where to now, Henry?"
"Name's Harry," he grunted. The perky tones used by pilot mode might have been cheery and friendly in Anglic, but they came across as just plain silly in Galactic Seven. Yet the only available alternative meant substituting a voice chip programmed in whistle-clicking GalTwo. A Gubru dialect, even. He wasn't desperate enough to try that yet.
"Prepare to ease us along a perceived-flat course trajectory of two forty degrees, ship centered," he told the program. "Dead slow."
"Whatever you say, Boss-Sentient. Adapting interface parameters now."
Harry went back to the window, watching the station grow four huge wheels, bearing giant balloon tires with thick treads. Soon they began to turn. A squeaky whine, like rubbing your hand on a soapy countertop, penetrated the thick crystal panes.
As he had feared, the tires found little traction on the slick brown surface. Still, he held back from overruling the pilot's choice of countermeasures. Better see what happened first.
Momentum built gradually. The station approached the nearest yellow starfish.
Doubt spread in Harry's mind.
"Maybe I should try looking this up first. They might have the image listed somewhere."
Once upon a time, back when he was inducted as Earth's first volunteer-recruit in the Navigation Institute survey department — full of tape-training and idealism — he used to consult the records every time E Space threw another weird symbolism at him. After all, the Galactic Civilization of oxygen breathing races had been exploring, cataloguing and surveying this bizarre continuum for half a billion years. The amount of information contained in even his own tiny shipboard Library unit exceeded the sum of all human knowledge before Contact was made with extraterrestrials.
An impressive store... and as it turned out, nearly useless. Maybe he wasn't very good at negotiating with the Library's reference persona. Or perhaps the problem came from being born of Earth-simian stock. Anyway, he soon took to trusting his own instincts during missions to E Space.
Alas, that approach had one drawback. You have only yourself to blame when things blow up in your face.
Harry noticed he was slouching. He straightened and brought his hands together to prevent scratching. But nervous energy had to express itself, so he tugged on his thumbs, instead. A Tymbrimi he knew had once remarked that many of Harry's species had that habit, perhaps a symptom of the long, hard process of Uplift.
The forward tires reached the first starfish. There was no way around the things. No choice but to try climbing over them.
Harry held his breath as contact was made. But touching drew no reaction. The obstacle just lay there, six long, flat strips of brown-flecked yellow, splayed from a nubby central hump. The first set of tires skidded, and the station rode up the yellow strip, pushed by the back wheels.
The station canted slightly. Harry rumbled anxiously in his chest, trying to tease loose a tickling thread of recognition. Maybe "starfish" wasn't the best analogy for these things. They looked familiar though.
The angle increased. A troubled whine came from the spinning rear wheels until they, too, reached the yellow.
In a shock of recognition, Harry shouted — "No! Reverse! They're ban —"
It was already too late. The back tires whined as slippery yellow strips flew out from under the platform, sending it flipping in a sudden release of traction. Harry tumbled, struck the ceiling, then rolled across the far wall, shouting as the scout platform rolled, skidded, and rolled again... until it dropped with a final, bone-jarring thud. Fetching up against a bulkhead, Harry clutched a wall rail with his toes until the jouncing finally stopped.
"Oh... my head...," he moaned, picking himself up.
At least things had settled right side up. He shuffled back to the console in a crouch, and read the main display. The station had suffered little damage, thank Ifni. But Harry must have put off housecleaning chores too long, for dust balls now coated his fur from head to toe. He slapped them off, raising clouds and triggering violent sneezes.
The shutters had closed automatically the instant things went crazy, protecting his eyes against potentially dangerous allaphors.
He commanded gruffly, "Open blinds!" Perhaps the violent action had triggered a local phase change, causing all the nasty obstacles to vanish. It had happened before.
No such luck, he realized as the louvers slid into pillars between the wide viewing panes. Outside, the general scenery had not altered noticeably. The same reddish blue, swiss cheese sky rolled over a mauve pampas, with black mountains bobbing biliously in the distance. And a slick mesa still had his scoutship mired, hemmed on all sides by yellow, multi-armed shapes.
"Banana peels," he muttered. "Goddam banana peels."
One reason why these stations were manned by only one Observer... allaphors tended to get even weirder with more than one mind perceiving them at the same time. The "objects" he saw were images his own mind pasted over a reality that no living brain could readily fathom. A reality that mutated and transformed under influence by his thoughts and perceptions.
All that was fine, in theory. He ought to be used to it by now. But what bothered Harry in particular about the banana allaphor was that it seemed gratuitously personal. Like others of his kind, Harry hated being trapped by stereotypes.
He sighed, scratching his side. "Are all systems stable?"
"Everything is stable, Taskmaster-Commander Harold," the Pilot replied. "We are stuck for the moment, but we appear to be safe."
He considered the vast open expanse beyond the plateau. Actually, visibility was excellent from here. The holes in the sky, especially, were all clear and unobstructed. A thought occurred to him.
"Say, do we really have to move on right away? We can observe all the assigned transit routes from this very spot, until our cruise clock runs out, no?"
"That appears to be correct. For the moment, no illicit traffic can get by our watch area undetected."
"Hmmph. Well then..." He yawned. "I guess I'll just go back to bed! I have a feelin' I'm gonna need my wits to get outta this one."
"Very well. Good night, Employer-Observer Harms. Pleasant Dreams."
"Fat chance o' that," he muttered in Anglic as he left the observation deck. "And close the friggin' blinds! Do I have to think of everything around here? Don't answer that! Just... never mind."
Even closed, the louvers would not prevent all leakage. Flickering archetypes slipped between the slats, as if eager to latch into his mind during REM state, tapping his dreams like little parasites.
It could not be helped. When Harry got his first promotion to E Space, the local head of patrollers for the Navigation Institute told him that susceptibility to allaphoric images was a vital part of the job. Waving a slender, multi-jointed arm, that Galactic official confessed his surprise, in Nahalli-accented GalSix, at Harry's qualifications.
"Skeptical we were, when first told that your race might have traits useful to us.
"Repudiating our doubts, this you have since achieved, Observer Harms.
"To full status, we now advance you. First of your kind to be so-honored."
Harry sighed as he threw himself under the covers again, tempted by the sweet stupidity of self-pity.
Some honor! He snorted dubiously.
Still, he couldn't honestly complain. He had been warned. And this wasn't Horst. At least he had escaped the dry, monotonous wastes.
Anyway, only the mad lived for long under illusions that the cosmos was meant for their convenience.
There were a multitude of conflicting stories about whoever designed this crazy universe, so many billions of years ago. But even before he ever considered dedicating his life to Institute work — or heard of E Space — Harry had reached one conclusion about metatheology.
For all His power and glory, the Creator must not have been a very sensible person.
At least, not as sensible as a neo-chimpanzee.