Brightness Reef

Brightness Reef

infobox Book |
name = Brightness Reef
title_orig =
translator =


image_caption = Cover of first edition (hardcover)
author = David Brin
illustrator =
cover_artist =
country = United States
language = English
series = Uplift Universe
genre = Science fiction novel
publisher = Bantam Books
release_date = October 1995
english_release_date =
media_type = Print (Hardcover & Paperback)
pages = 518 pp
isbn = ISBN 0-553-10034-3
preceded_by = The Uplift War
followed_by = Infinity's Shore

"Brightness Reef" is a 1995 science fiction novel by David Brin and the fourth book of six set in his Uplift Universe (preceded by "The Uplift War" and followed by "Infinity's Shore"). It was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1996.

Plot summary

Starting around the year 930 C.E. [http://www.geocities.com/Area51/Corridor/8611/brin.htm] , and continuing until the 23rd century, sooners belonging to eight patron class races illegally plant colonies on the planet Jijo. The eight races are: g'Keks, Traeki (similar to Jophur), Glavers, Qheuen, Hoon, Tytlal (AKA Noor), Urs, and Human. By the beginning of the novel, the Glavers have (partly) regressed to pre-sentient animals and the Tytlal have successfully disguised themselves as wildlife.

The novel begins with the discovery of a badly injured stranger. The stranger is nursed by Sara daughter of Nelo the Papermaker. The stranger cannot speak and does not seem to recall his origin. While Sara attempts to heal him, the story shifts to her two brothers, Lark and Dwer. Lark is a biologist and a heretic: he preaches a belief that the members of the Six races should make themselves extinct by not breeding. Only by doing this, he believes, can they be redeemed for the sin of settling on a fallow planet like Jijo. Dwer is a hunter who serves the Council of the Six Races. The other two main characters are the young adult — and keen writer — and traeki High-Sage Asx.

On a mission for the Council, Dwer encounters a teenage girl, Rety, who was raised in a human tribe in forbidden lands. She is chasing a robotic bird she discovered spying on a hunting party of her tribe. She flees Dwer and continues tracking the bird; Dwer follows and they both become ensnared in the domain of a crazy mulc spider. The spider attempts to capture the two humans and robot, but is seriously damaged when a second larger robot shoots at the robot bird. In the flames and confusion, Dwer and Rety are rescued by Lark.

The first robot's origins remain mysterious, but the second robot came from a starship that landed near the centre of the annual festival. Several humans depart the starship and proclaim themselves servants of the Rothen — the secret patrons of Humanity. The human representatives of the Rothen are very secretive about their purpose on Jijo, but they request the assistance of the council of Sages, and the council provides the assistance in an attempt to discover what the Rothen are hiding.

On the other side of the slope, Alvin and his friends receive unexpected assistance from Uriel the smith in completing their summer project: a submarine to explore part of the midden — an undersea subduction zone that destroys the form of anything placed on it. The midden is where each of the races on Jijo sunk their starships and where the races still continue to deposit their trash. In return for her assistance, Uriel requests Alvin and his friends locate and retrieve a wire leading to a hidden cache of galactic technology.

Rety recovers from her injuries after the robot firefight and is sent to the glade where the council and a Rothen shuttle reside. When the council concludes the Rothen may destroy all sooners on Jijo to keep their secret, Rety is drafted to help humans from the slope join her family's illicit colony east of the Rimmers (a local mountain range). Rety, loathing the idea of returning to her impoverished (and abusive) clan, deserts, steals the remains of the robotical bird she tracked from the Sage studying it, and joins the Rothen — using the bird as barter.

Dwer, also recovered, is sent to lead the expedition over the Rimmers without Rety's aid. When the expedition arrives at Rety's tribe, they discover Rety and Rothen servant Kunn subjecting the humans in the tribe and a recently captured group of Urs. Rety and Kuhn are trying to learn the source of the robot bird from the tribesmen who first saw it.

The members of the expedition start to develop a plan to free the Urs when Kunn learns the information he sought and departs. He leaves Rety with a robot to protect her until he can return. Using a gun (made without any metal) the expedition attack the robot and damage it. When the robot fires back, Dwer climes aboard to escape injury. He's still on the robot when it begins to retreat; also on the robot is Rety and a Noor Dwer calls Mudfoot.

The mute stranger and Sara travel to Biblios — the great library of Jijo — where a sage attempts to discern the origin of the stranger. After the stranger recognises music from Earth, the sage is convinced he is a member of the galactic human race.

The stranger and Sara then depart for the glade, but are ambushed by a pack of Urs and wild men. The stranger disables many of the Urs using sleep pills and knowledge of the Urs native fauna. After fighting the wild men and the remaining Urs, the stranger, Sara, and their companions worry that they won't be able to escape Urish retribution, as the Urs can travel faster than they. Shortly thereafter, the sound of hooves is heard, but the riders turn out to be women in the company of friendly Urs.

In the glade, two Rothen depart their ship and ask to participate in a ceremony to see the Holy Egg — a rock like Jijoian artefact. The Rothen also claim they sent the Holy Egg to Jijo to protect Humans by pacifying the other races. This causes immediate fracturing between humans and the other races, but the ceremony continues until a heretic blocks the way and claims the Rothen must leave. The Rothen leader says the heretic has no power to stop him, but the heretic claims the Holy Egg will dispel the Rothen from the planet. There is an explosion and the Rothen shuttle and several Rothen robots are destroyed.

A quick investigation reveals the Holy Egg did nothing — the heretics planted and ignited explosives beneath the shuttle. A Rothen and several Human servants of the Rothen are dead. The Rothen leader, furious, points to a fleck in the sky and says it is his ship decelerating from orbit to bring retribution.

Translations

* French: "Rédemption" ("Redemption"), 1997.
* German: "Die Botschaft der Delphine" ("The Message of the Dolphins"), 2001.
* Polish: "Rafa jasności" ("The Reef of Brightness"), 1997.
* Russian: " _ru. Риф яркости" ("The Reef of Brightness"), 2003.
* Spanish: "Arrecife Brillante" ("Bright Reef"), 1998.


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