Startide Rising – Book Review

I will be attending Baycon this year which is a Bay Area Science Fiction Convention. I heard about this convention when I attended Worldcon last year. David Brin is going to be attending the convention and there are multiple panels that he will be taking part in. I thought this would be a perfect time to read one of his novels. I read Startide Rising which is the second book in his Uplift novels. It seems you can skip the first book and directly jump onto the second book in the series. Both the second part and third part in this series won Hugo awards.

I have mixed feelings about this book. But I am still glad that I read this novel. This is definitely a classic for a reason. This is a hard sci-fi novel so the focus is more on the science than the plot or characters as it usually happens. I love science in books so I enjoyed reading science in this novel.

In this world, sentient beings can genetically modify other species and make them sentient. This is called Uplift. The uplifted beings are called clients while those who uplifted them are called patrons. Humans however do not have a patron so they claim to have evolved on their own. We have no idea who uplifted humans or if humans were uplifted at all.


The Terran exploration vessel Streaker has crashed in the uncharted water world of Kithrup, bearing one of the most important discoveries in galactic history. Below, a handful of her human and dolphin crew battles armed rebellion and a hostile planet to safeguard her secret–the fate of the Progenitors, the fabled First Race who seeded wisdom throughout the stars.

What I liked about this book:

1. World building was amazing. The author has created so many alien species, a water world planet, sentient dolphins and chimp.

2. Uplift was a great concept to read about. I loved reading about Uplift and it’s ramifications. Like racism that humans show to the species that they have uplifted etc. This was the concept that made me want to continue reading.

3. Cool science like how do you design a spacecraft where dolphins and humans can coexist? How can dolphins explore an alien planet on their own? The science was fascinating.

4. Dolphins in space. You should read this book just for this cool concept.

5. Library which has all the info collected by other galactic species. Reminded me of Encyclopedia Galactica (from Foundation series).

6. Strong female characters- for a novel written in 1980s, I was pleasantly surprised to see that many significant characters in this book were women/female dolphin.

What I did not like in this book:

1. Writing – it was dull and boring along with haiku thrown in. It took me forever to read this book mostly because of the bad writing. I even listened to audiobook towards the end as I couldn’t read it.

2. Plot – it was almost nonexistent. Humans are stranded on an alien planet and are trying to escape from it. That’s the entire plot and it takes around 500 pages to culminate. It’s way too slow paced and hardly anything exciting happens.

3. Characters: flat. I couldn’t distinguish between the dolphins or between dolphins and humans. I had imagined some dolphins to be humans at the beginning of the book.

4. Horny dolphins and men: every male dolphin or male person is thinking about sex all the time which was something I did not like.

5. No paperback version available. I had to read from a mass market paperback, a format I loathe.

I gave this book 3 stars. I loved some of the concepts a lot but disliked few aspects of this book. I am not sure if I want to read the other books in this series.

Overall, do read it if dolphins in space or hard sci-fi might interest you. Have you read any book in this series? If so, did you like them?

9 thoughts on “Startide Rising – Book Review

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    1. haha 🙂 No, I just wanted some pen name and for some reason, I just chose this for no particular reason (13-14 yrs back) and then decided to stick with it as everyone knows me by this name.


  1. I’ve thought about this book a few times- I’ve been curious about David Brin, and the water world/ Uplifted dolphins idea appealed to me. It does sound kinda slow- moving though. I do love that library concept!


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