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Heaven's Reach by David Brin
Published by Bantam
Reviewed by Leigh Kimmel
The Uplift Storm trilogy comes to a thunderous conclusion in this volume, as the protagonists of the previous two volumes leave the planet Jijo for the wider Five Galaxies. However, that does not mean the end of their troubles, for the larger universe is going through catastrophic changes, both social and astronomical. Hyperspatial transfer points are failing all over the Five Galaxies, and the social fabric that enables vastly different species to work together is rapidly crumbling.
It takes a human mathematical genius, born and raised on backward Jijo, to realize that this is all part of a larger cosmological phenomenon that the conservative Galactic civilization has carefully avoided. Similar events have happened in the past not once, but several times, the most recent being the Gronin Collapse. Each time the records were subsequently obscured, the disruptions blamed upon more prosaic causes.
By the time the truth is finally recognized, all the major characters are in positions where there can be no easy way out. Getting out or just getting home may soon be an impossible task, whether one is a sooner born and raised in Jijo's fearful enforced savagery or a techaophilic member of Galactic society. For the humans and dolphins of the starship Streaker, getting home to beleagured Earth will mean successfully negotiating with the mysterious Transcendants, when they have already learned through painful experience that contact with other orders of life can be quite perilous.
David Brin pulled out all the stops in this novel, with mind-boggling creations like the memetic lifeforms of E-space, living ideas that don't need a brain to think them and can wreak strange transformations on more prosaic beings they encounter. But he has also left some threads loose, if not entirely dangling, tantalizing hints of directions in which he may take future novels of the Uplift universe.
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Review posted December 15, 2000
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