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The Uplift War cover The Uplift War by David Brin

Published by Bantam Books

Reviewed by Leigh Kimmel

Startide Rising, but in another part of the galaxy. Garth is a sad planet. Once beautiful and bursting with promise, it was leased to the Bururalli, a newly uplifted race that was just to the point of being able to take leaseholds on their own planets. Something went terribly wrong, and the Bururalli reverted to the brutal, carnivorous habits of their pre-sentient ancestors, hunting and devouring everything that moved. By the time this was discovered, there was nothing left to do but exterminate the Bururalli down to the rootstock and place their patrons in a punitive re-indenture.

Fifty thousand years later, Garth has begun to recover enough to be leased once again as a colony. Now it is humanity's turn to live on it, under the condition that they will pay special attention to restoring Garth's damaged ecosystem. Pursuant of that, humanity and one of its client species, the chims (uplifted neo-chimpanzees) have settled Garth and are carefully introducing new species to fill the gaps that remain in the shattered ecosystem.

But all their careful work is now in danger, for the politics of the outside world intrude. In a far part of the galaxy, a ship crewed by humanity's other client race, the neo-dolphins, has made a discovery that led to several Galactic fanatics to start a holy war against humanity. Among those fanatic races are the Gubru, an avian race whose reproductive habits are more similar to those of hive insects.

According to the ancient Traditions that regulate interstellar war in the interest of preserving ecologies, it is acceptable to take a planet's population hostage in order to wrest secrets from the race's governing agents, so long as the proper letters of intent are filed. Thus the Gubru descend upon poor tormented Garth and blast every habitation with a "hostage gas" that will be fatal if the antidote is not administered within a set number of days -- and the Gubru control the antidote. Humans have the choice of turning themselves in for internment or dying.

But the chims are not affected by the gas, and they stubbornly continue in the absence of their human patrons. Those in the occupied cities maintain Terran culture, even when the Gubru look upon them as children playing pretend games in imitation of their elders. Those in the back woods continue a desperate resistance against the invaders, guided by the one human leader who escaped the hostage gas.

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Review posted November 17, 2000

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