Reviews of Sundiver (1980)
Review by clong (2006-02-01)
This is a reasonably entertaining book, but not really in the league of the much more ambitious Startide Rising and The Uplift War. The story is fairly simple, a sort of "whodonit?" set around a space program that appears to have made contact with energy beings who live in and around the sun. The story builds to a fairly early false climax, but then quickly begins rebuilding tension as it moves towards a second big suspenseful climax.
The best things about the book are some of the very intriguing technology concepts that make it possible to explore the sun (some of these are human developed; some are gifts from the intergalactic Library that plays a key role in the dissemination of knowledge in Brin's Uplift universe).
I had enjoyed the character development in Startide Rising and The Uplift War, especially of the nonhuman characters (neochimps, neodolphins, and aliens). The characterization in Sundiver left me disappointed. The protagonist was neither sympathetic nor particularly convincing (the whole pseudo suppressed split personality thing just seemed silly to me). And the three important alien characters were interesting as excercises in alien design, but as key players in the story they left me unconvinced.
Review by jel (2004-08-22)
This is hard sci-fi, which I'm not really fond of. But I read it for the plot line; evolution, intergalactic relations, animal rights, class-based societies, and the politics involved in all of that. Interesting stuff for me. Alright, I'll admit it; the concept of a sci-fi book written from a guy at NASA interested me a little, too. And a recommendation didn't hurt :)
All in all, the book seems strange to me. Complex politics and physics mixed with aliens shooting lasers from their body parts. Doesn't seem like a good balance to me. And, in parts, it didn't feel like a balanced read either.
I consider myself a sci-fi and technology geek, but some of this just went over my head, and made reading difficult. Some of the fundamental divisions in their society took me around half of the book to figure out. I like complex plots, but I'm not sure that' it's a good thing on such a simple matter; it held back my enjoyment a lot. Picture a book about racial relations on earth that doesn't rightly explain the black/white division at all, and doesn't give enough hints to work it out for some way beyond many meetings between the groups :/
That said, I'm not sure there would have been much to read, if it had been explained sooner. The actual plot of this individual book, beyond setting up the scene, is pretty basic.
All things considered, this was an enjoyable read by the end. But not VERY enjoyable :(
Review by blueworld (2004-03-31)
Sundiver is both a science fiction story and a mystery. As an introduction to the Uplift universe, it was enjoyable and much less intimidating than the following books in the series.
Review by RomikQ (2003-03-07)
A very interesting book, the political interplays between the alien races is amazing. Occasionaly there are some cliche moments in the plot, but nevertheless, a great read.