"Where subtlety fails us we must simply make do with cream pies." — The Uplift War

DAVID BRIN's The Uplift War

Bantam, 1987

Read the first 7 chapters online, or scroll down to purchase THE UPLIFT WAR.

a war of many worlds

"But there is one more reason to protect other species. One seldom if ever mentioned. Perhaps we are the first to talk and think and build and aspire, but we may not be the last. Others may follow us in this adventure. Some day we may be judged by just how well we served, when alone we were Earth's caretakers." — The Uplift War

Drawing on the startling events of Startide Rising, The Uplift War tells a tale of courage, survival and discovery.

As galactic armadas clash in quest of the ancient fleet of the Progenitors, a brutal alien race seizes the dying planet of Garth, an Earth colony. Humans and their Uplifted allies must battle their conquerors or face ultimate extinction. At stake is the existence of Terran society and Earth, and the fate of the entire Five Galaxies.

The third book of the Uplift series, The Uplift War (The Uplift Saga, Book 3), became a NY Times Bestseller; and was WINNER: Hugo and LOCUS Awards for Best Novel, 1988, and NOMINEE: 1988 Nebula award for best novel.

about the uplift series

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?

book sales

purchase The Uplift War US: paperback and Kindle ebook and audiobook (unabridged) Canada: paperback and Kindle ebook UK: paperback and Kindle ebook Germany: Entwicklungskrieg: Die erste Uplift-Trilogie 3 (German-language paperback) and Entwicklungskrieg: Die erste Uplift-Trilogie 3 (German-language Kindle ebook)


Apple iBooks

Apple iTunes US: iBook and audiobook (unabridged)

Barnes and Noble

Barnes and Noble US: paperback and Nook ebook

indie bound US: paperback US: ebook

Mysterious Galaxy

Mysterious Galaxy San Diego: paperback and (Kobo) ebook


Powell's US: paperback

more about the series

other uplifting novels

The stirring saga that begins with Sundiver continues in Startide Rising, and climaxes in The Uplift War.

A second uplift series begins with Brightness Reef, continues with Infinity's Shore, and concludes with Heaven's Reach.

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.

uplifted short stories

These three stories are set in the uplift universe. Learn more about all of Brin's shorter fiction here.

  • In "Aficionado" (an excerpt from Existence), Hacker Sander is spoiled, temperamental and a champion rock-jock ... till a crash lands him in lethal peril. His sole hope? A tribe of strangely savvy sea creatures, with a secret need of their own.
  • In "Temptation" (included in the newest story collection, Insistence of Vision), a female dolphin on Jijo — on the run from two predatory males — stumbles into a deeply dangerous ancient secret.
  • In "Gorilla, My Dreams," chimpanzees and dolphins are helping humans choose the next species for uplift when powerful alien starships arrive to wipe out all life on Earth. (This story is sold on Apple's iBook, Amazon's kindle (#AmazonCommissionsEarned), and Smashwords.)

  • foreign-language editions

    The Uplift War has been translated into Bulgarian, Chinese, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Lithuanian, Polish, Romanian, Russian, and Spanish. Here are some of the covers of the foreign and foreign-language publications.

    The Uplift War's foreign editions

    Uplift War in the world

  • articles, interviews and essays about uplift in science and fiction
  • Brin's science fiction novels
  • his shorter fiction
  • articles, interviews and essays about space exploration and the seti search
  • articles, interviews and essays about science discoveries and developments
  • on the web

  • the Goodreads page
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  • the Wikipedia page
  • uplift's Facebook fan page
  •!: David Brin's uplift universe
  • film & media queries

    Queries about film or media rights to any DAVID BRIN books or stories can be addressed to his film agent:
    Vince Gerardis
    Created-By Agency
    (with cc: to David Brin)

    Uplift War reviews

    Das Übernerd review

    "This time the events that are occurring in Startide Rising have caused some hostile species to move directly against humanity and their children sentients the dolphins and chimpanzees. A colony world is conquered and the governors son goes into hiding with the daughter of the ambassador of one of the few friendly alien species. They join forces with the few remaining free chimpanzees and start a guerrilla war to take back the world (don't look at me, it's Brin's pun)."

    Goodreads community review

    "I read this book for my book club, and it led to one of the best discussions we've ever had. David Brin is the Jackson Pollock of science-fiction, he just grabs a bunch of science-y ideas, mixes them all up, and splatters them all over his pages." customer review

    "The idea behind this series is imaginative and far reaching, and if "The Uplift War" is typical of what to expect in this series, I will soon be purchasing more of David Brin's work."


    "An exhilarating read that encompasses everything from breathless action to finely drawn moments of quiet intimacy. There is no way we can avoid coming back as many times asBrin wants us to, until his story is done."

    Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine

    "Shares all the properties that made Startide such a joy. The plot fizzes along ... and there are the wonders of the Galactic civilizations (which have all the invention and excitement that SF used to have)."

    a brief intro to science fiction author DAVID BRIN

    To learn more, visit his books page, or see his "about me" page or detailed biography.

    DAVID BRIN author


    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

    shorter fiction

    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

    Contrary Brin blog

    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

    social media influencer

    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 scientist


    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

    transparency expert

    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

    speaker & consultant

    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

    future/tech advisor

    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. Urban Developer Magazine named him one of four World's Best Futurists, and he was appraised as "#1 influencer" in Onalytica's Top 100 report of Artificial Intelligence influencers, brands & publications. Past consultations include Google, Microsoft, Procter & Gamble, and many others. Learn More

    other points of departure

    visit other pages on this website

    pages about BRIN's science fiction

  • Brin's novels and books
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  • all about Brin's uplift universe
  • a selection of book reviews
  • Brin's special-order books for sale
  • Brin's advice for new writers
  • Brin reviews sci fi films — including The Postman
  • a compilation of great sf books to read
  • recommended sf films
  • science fiction that teaches
  • BRIN's nonfiction explorations

  • privacy, security, accountability and transparency
  • designing and crafting our amazing 21st Century
  • predicting and projecting our near and far future
  • leading and following our politics and economy
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  • Contacting BRIN

    All the Ways in the World to Reach David Brin

    an ornery, contrary BLOG, and other insightful wormholes!

    Do not enter if you want a standard "Party" line! Contrary Brin's incendiary posts on science, sci-fi and politics and its engaged, opinionated community poke at too-rigid orthodoxies, proposing ideas and topics that fascinate — and infuriate. See for yourself, and if you like — subscribe for more.

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    reviews and recommendations

    praise for Brin's science fiction

    "Extrapolation of the highest and most subtle order."
    — Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine

    praise for Sundiver

    "The original Progenitors have long disappeared, and the intergalactic search for relics of their presence, along with the conflicts generated by humanity's asserted uniqueness, shapes much of the sequence, which Brin enlivens throughout with exceedingly clever depictions of a wide range of Alien species."
    — John Clute, The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction

    praise for Kiln People

    "More than any writer I know, David Brin can take scary, important problems and turn them sideways, revealing wonderful opportunities. This talent shows strongly in Kiln People, a novel which is deep and insightful and often hilarious, all at the same time."
    — Vernor Vinge

    praise for Existence

    "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

    final thoughts ...

    ... for this page, at least ...

    an excerpt from The Uplift War


    How strange, that such an insignificant little world should come to matter so much.
              Traffic roared amid the towers of Capital City, just beyond the sealed crystal dome of the official palanquin. But no sound penetrated to disturb the bureaucrat of Cost and Caution, who concentrated only on the holo-image of a small planet, turning slowly within reach of one down-covered arm. Blue seas and a jewel-bright spray of islands came into view as the bureaucrat watched, sparkling in the reflected glow of an out-of-view star.
              If I were one of the gods spoken of in wolfling legends... the bureaucrat imagined. Its pinions flexed. There was the feeling one had only to reach out with a talon and seize...
              But no. The absurd idea demonstrated that the bureaucrat had spent too much time studying the enemy. Crazy Terran concepts were infecting its mind.
              Two downy aides fluttered quietly nearby, preening the bureaucrat's feathers and bright torc for the appointment ahead. They were ignored. Aircars and floater barges darted aside and regimented lanes of traffic melted away before the bright beacon of the official vehicle. This was status normally accorded only royalty, but within the palanquin all went on unnoticed as the bureaucrat's heavy beak lowered toward the holo-image.
              Garth. So many times the victim.
              The outlines of brown continents and shallow blue seas lay partly smeared under pinwheel stormclouds, as deceptively white and soft to the eye as a Gubru's plumage. Along just one chain of islands — and at a single point at the edge of the largest continent — shone the lights of a few small cities. Everywhere else the world appeared untouched, perturbed only by occasional flickering strokes of stormbrewed lightning.
              Strings of code symbols told a darker truth. Garth was a poor place, a bad risk. Why else had the wolfling humans and their clients been granted a colony leasehold there? The place had been written off by the Galactic Institutes long ago.
              And now, unhappy little world, you have been chosen as a site for war.
              For practice, the bureaucrat of Cost and Caution thought in Anglic, the beastly, unsanctioned language of the Earthling creatures. Most Gubru considered the study of alien things an unwholesome pastime, but now the bureaucrat's obsession seemed about to pay off at last.
              At last. Today.
              The palanquin had threaded past the great towers of Capital City, and a mammoth edifice of opalescent stone now seemed to rise just ahead. The Conclave Arena, seat of government of all the Gubru race and clan.
              Nervous, anticipatory shivers flowed down the bureaucrat's head-crest all the way to its vestigial flight feathers, bringing forth chirps of complaint from the two Kwackoo aides. How could they finish preening the bureaucrat's fine white feathers, they asked, or buff its long, hooked beak, if it didn't sit still?
              "I comprehend, understand, will comply," the bureaucrat answered indulgently in Standard Galactic Language Number Three. These Kwackoo were loyal creatures, to be allowed some minor impertinences. For distraction, the bureaucrat returned to thoughts of the small planet, Garth.
              It is the most defenseless Earthling outpost... the one most easily taken hostage. That is why the military pushed for this operation, even while we are hard-pressed elsewhere in space. This will strike deeply at the wolflings, and we may thereby coerce them to yield what we want.
              After the armed forces, the priesthood had been next to agree to the plan. Recently the Guardians of Propriety had ruled that an invasion could be undertaken without any loss of honor.
              That left the Civil Service — the third leg of the Perch of Command. And there consensus had broken. The bureaucrat's superiors in the Department of Cost and Caution had demurred. The plan was too risky, they declared. Too expensive.
              A perch cannot stand long on two legs. There must be consensus. There must be compromise.
              There are times when a nest cannot avoid taking risks.
              The mountainous Conclave Arena became a cliff of dressed stone, covering half the sky. A cavernous opening loomed, then swallowed the palanquin. With a quiet murmur the small vessel's gravitics shut down and the canopy lifted. A crowd of Gubru in the normal white plumage of adult neuters already waited at the foot of the landing apron.
              They know, the bureaucrat thought, regarding them with its right eye. They know I am already no longer one of them.
              In its other eye the bureaucrat caught a last glimpse of the white-swaddled blue globe. Garth.
              Soon, the bureaucrat thought in Anglic. We shall meet soon.

              The Conclave Arena was a riot of color. And such colors! Feathers shimmered everywhere in the royal hues, crimson, amber, and arsene blue.
              Two four-footed Kwackoo servants opened a ceremonial portal for the bureaucrat of Cost and Caution, who momentarily had to stop and hiss in awe at the grandeur of the Arena. Hundreds of perches lined the terraced walls, crafted in delicate, ornate beauty out of costly woods imported from a hundred worlds. And all around, in regal splendor, stood the Roost Masters of the Gubru race.
              No matter how well it had prepared for today, the bureaucrat could not help feeling deeply moved. Never had it seen so many queens and princes at one time!
              To an alien, there might seem little to distinguish the bureaucrat from its lords. All were tall, slender descendants of flightless birds. To the eye, only the Roost Masters' striking colored plumage set them apart from the majority of the race. More important differences lay underneath, however. These, after all, were queens and princes, possessed of gender and the proven right to command.
              Nearby Roost Masters turned their sharp beaks aside in order to watch with one eye as the bureaucrat of Cost and Caution hurried through a quick, mincing dance of ritual abasement.
              Such colors! Love rose within the bureaucrat's downy breast, a hormonal surge triggered by those royal hues. It was an ancient, instinctive response, and no Gubru had ever proposed changing it. Not even after they had learned the art of gene-altering and become starfarers. Those of the race who achieved the ultimate — color and gender — had to be worshipped and obeyed by those who were still white and neuter.
              It was the very heart of what it meant to be Gubru.
              It was good. It was the way.
              The bureaucrat noticed that two other white-plumed Gubru had also entered the Arena through neighboring doors. They joined the bureaucrat upon the central platform. Together the three of them took low perches facing the assembled Roost Masters.
              The one on the right was draped in a silvery robe and bore around its narrow white throat the striped torc of priesthood.
              The candidate on the left wore the sidearm and steel talon guards of a military officer. The tips of its crest feathers were dyed to show the rank of stoop-colonel.
              Aloof, the other two white-plumed Gubru did not turn to acknowledge the bureaucrat. Nor did the bureaucrat offer any sign of recognizing them. Nevertheless, it felt a thrill. We are three!
              The President of the Conclave — an aged queen whose once fiery plumage had now faded to a pale pinkish wash — fluffed her feathers and opened her beak. The Arena's acoustics automatically amplified her voice as she chirped for attention. On all sides the other queens and princes fell silent.
              The Conclave President raised one slender, down-covered arm. Then she began to croon and sway. One by one, the other Roost Masters joined in, and soon the crowd of blue, amber, and crimson forms was rocking with her. From the royal assemblage there rose a low, atonal moaning.

    "Zoooon ..."

              "Since time immemorial," the President chirped in formal Galactic Three. "Since before our glory, since before our patronhood, since before even our Uplift into sentience, it has been our way to seek balance."
              The assembly chanted in counter rhythm.

    "Balance on the ground's brown seams,
    Balance in the rough air streams,
    Balance in our greatest schemes."

              "Back when our ancestors were still pre-sentient beasts, back before our Gooksyu patrons found us and uplifted us to knowledge, back before we even spoke or knew tools, we had already learned this wisdom, this way of coming to decision, this way of coming to consensus, this way of making love."


              "As half-animals, our ancestors still knew that we must... must choose... must choose three."

    "One to hunt and strike with daring,
    for glory and for territory!
    One to seek the righteous bearing,
    for purity and propriety!
    One to warn of danger looming,
    for our eggs' security!"

              The bureaucrat of Cost and Caution sensed the other two candidates on either side and knew they were just as electrically aware, just as caught up in tense expectation. There was no greater honor than to be chosen as the three of them had been.
              Of course all young Gubru were taught that this way was best, for what other species so beautifully combined politics and philosophy with lovemaking and reproduction? The system had served their race and clan well for ages. It had brought them to the heights of power in Galactic society.
              And now it may have brought us to the brink of ruin.
              Perhaps it was sacrilegious even to imagine it, but the bureaucrat of Cost and Caution could not help wondering if one of the other methods it had studied might not be better after all. It had read of so many styles of government used by other races and clans — autarchies and aristocracies, technocracies and democracies, syndicates and meritocracies. Might not one of those actually be a better way of judging the right path in a dangerous universe?
              The idea might be irreverent, but such unconventional thinking was the reason certain Roost Masters had singled out the bureaucrat for a role of destiny. Over the days and months ahead, someone among the three would have to be the doubting one. That was ever the role of Cost and Caution.

              "In this way, we strike a balance. In this way, we seek consensus. In this way, we resolve conflict."

    "Zooon!" agreed the gathered queens and princes.

              Much negotiation had gone into selecting each of the candidates, one from the military, one from the priestly orders, and one from the Civil Service. If all worked out well, a new queen and two new princes would emerge from the molting ahead. And along with a vital new line of eggs for the race would also come a new policy, one arising out of the merging of their views.
              That was how it was supposed to end. The beginning, however, was another matter. Fated eventually to be lovers, the three would from the start also be competitors. Adversaries.
              For there could be only one queen.

              "We send forth this trio on a vital mission. A mission of conquest. A mission of coercion.
              "We send them also in search of unity... in search of agreement... in search of consensus, to unite us in these troubled times."


              In the eager chorus could be felt the Conclave's desperate wish for resolution, for an end to bitter disagreements. The three candidates were to lead just one of many battle forces sent forth by the clan of the Gooksyu-Gubru. But clearly the Roost Masters had special hopes for this triumvirate.
              Kwackoo servitors offered shining goblets to each candidate. The bureaucrat of Cost and Caution lifted one and drank deeply. The fluid felt like golden fire going down.
              First taste of the Royal Liquor...
              As expected, it had a flavor like nothing else imaginable. Already, the three candidates' white plumage seemed to glisten with a shimmering promise of color to come.
              We shall struggle together, and eventually one of us shall molt amber. One shall molt blue.
              And one, presumably the strongest, the one with the best policy, would win the ultimate prize.
              A prize fated to be mine. For it was said to have all been arranged in advance. Caution had to win the upcoming consensus. Careful analysis had shown that the alternatives would be unbearable.

              "You shall go forth, then," the Conclave President sang. "You three new Suzerains of our race and of our clan. You shall go forth and win conquest. You shall go forth and humble the wolfling heretics."

    "Zooooon!" the assembly cheered.

              The President's beak lowered toward her breast, as if she were suddenly exhausted. Then, the new Suzerain of Cost and Caution faintly heard her add, "You shall go forth and try your best to save us...."

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