Upgrade to a better browser, please.

Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Books

Brightness Reef

Added By: Administrator
Last Updated: Administrator

Brightness Reef

Purchase this book through Purchase this book from Purchase this book from
Author: David Brin
Publisher: Bantam Spectra, 1995
Series: The Uplift Trilogy: Book 1

1. Brightness Reef
2. Infinity's Shore
3. Heaven's Reach

Book Type: Novel
Genre: Science-Fiction
Sub-Genre Tags: Uplift
Galactic Empire
Avg Member Rating:
(175 reads / 75 ratings)


David Brin's Uplift novels -- Sundiver, Hugo award winner The Uplift War, and Hugo and Nebula winner Startide Rising--are among the most thrilling and extraordinary science fiction tales ever written. Now David Brin returns to this future universe for a new Uplift trilogy, packed with adventure, passion and wit.

The planet Jijo is forbidden to settlers, its ecology protected by guardians of the Five Galaxies. But over the centuries it has been resettled, populated by refugees of six intelligent races. Together they have woven a new society in the wilderness, drawn together by their fear of Judgment Day, when the Five Galaxies will discover their illegal colony. Then a strange starship arrives on Jijo. Does it bring the long-dreaded judgment, or worse -- a band of criminals willing to destroy the six races of Jijo in order to cover their own crimes?


ON THE DAY I GREW UP ENOUGH FOR MY HAIR TO start turning white, my parents summoned all the members of our thronging cluster to the family khuta, for a ceremony giving me my proper name--Hph-wayuo.

I guess it's all right, for a hoonish tag. It rolls out from my throat sac easy enough, even if I get embarrassed hearing it sometimes. The handle's supposed to have been in the lineage ever since our sneakship brought the first hoon to Jijo.

The sneakship was utterly gloss! Our ancestors may have been sinners, in coming to breed on this taboo planet, but they flew a mighty star-cruiser, dodging Institute patrols and dangerous Zang and Izmunuti's carbon storms to get here. Sinners or not, they must have been awfully brave and skilled to do all that.

I've read everything I can find about those days, even though it happened hundreds of years before there was paper on Jijo, so all we really have to go on are a few legends about those hoon pioneers, who dropped from the sky to find g'Keks, glavers, and traeki already hiding here on the Slope. Stories that tell how those first hoon sank their sneakship in the deep Midden, so it couldn't be traced, then settled down to build crude wooden rafts, the first to sail Jijo's rivers and seas since the Great Buyur went away.

Since it has to do with the sneakship, I guess my given name can't be too bad.

Still, I really like to be called Alvin.

Our teacher, Mister Heinz, wants us upper graders to start journals, though some parents complain paper costs too much here at the southern end of the Slope. I don't care. I'm going to write about the adventures me and my friends have, both helping and heckling the good-natured sailors in the harbor, or exploring twisty lava tubes up near Guenn Volcano, or scouting in our little boat all the way to the long, hatchet-shadow of Terminus Rock.

Maybe someday I'll turn these notes into a book!

And why not? My Anglic is real good. Even grumpy old Heinz says I'm a whiz at languages, memorizing the town copy of Roget's by the time I was ten. Anyway, now that Joe Dolenz, the printer, has come set up shop in Wuphon, why should we have to count on the traveling librarian's caravan for new things to read? Maybe Dolenz would even let me set the type myself! That is, if I get around to it before my fingers grow too big to fit around those little backward letters.

Mu-phauwq, my mother, calls it a great idea, though I can tell she's partly humoring a childish obsession, and I wish she wouldn't patronize me that way.

My dad, Yowg-wayuo, acts all grumpy, puffing his throat sac and telling me not to be such a humanmimicker. But I'm sure he likes the idea, deep down. Doesn't he keep taking borrowed books on his long voyages to the Midden, even though you're not supposed to, because what if the ship sank and maybe the last ancient copy of Moby Dick went down with the crew? Wouldn't that be a real disaster?

Anyway, didn't he used to read to me almost from the day I was born? Booming all the great Earthling adventure tales like Treasure Island, Sindbad, and Ultraviolet Mars? So who's he to call me a humicker!

Nowadays, Dad says I should read the new hoon writers, those trying to go past imitating old-time Earthers, coming up with literature by and for our own kind.

I guess maybe there should be more books in languages other than Anglic. But Galactic Two and Galactic Six seem so darn stiff for storytelling. Anyhow, I've tried some of those writers. Honestly. And I've got to say that not one of them can hold a peg to Mark Twain.

Naturally, Huck agrees with me about that!

Huck is my best friend. She picked that name even though I kept telling her it's not a right one for a girl. She just twists one eyestalk around another and says she doesn't care, and if I call her "Becky" one more time, she'll catch my leg-fur in her spokes and spin till I scream.

I guess it doesn't matter, since g'Keks get to change sex after their training wheels fall off, and if she wants to stay female, that's her business. As an orphan, Huck's lived with the family next door ever since the Big North-side Avalanche wiped out the weaver clan that used to squat in Buyur ruins up that way. You'd expect her to be a bit strange after living through that and then being raised by hoons. Anyway, she's a great friend and a pretty good sailor, even if she is a g'Kek, and a girl, and doesn't have legs to speak of.

Most times, Pincer-Tip also comes on our adventures, specially when we're down by the shore. He didn't need a nickname from some story, since all red qheuens get one the minute they set five claws outside the brooding pen. Pincer's no big reader like Huck and me, mostly because few books can stand the salt and dampness where his clan lives. They're poor, living off wrigglers they find in the mudflats south of town. Dad says the qheuens with red shells used to be servants to the grays and blues, before their sneakship brought all three to hide on Jijo. Even after that, the grays kept bossing the others for a while, so Dad says the reds aren't used to thinking for themselves.

Maybe so, but whenever Pincer-Tip comes along, he's usually the one chattering--with all leg-mouths at once--about sea serpents, or lost Buyur treasure, or other things he swears he's seen ... or else he heard of somebody who knows someone else who might've seen something, just over the horizon. When we get into trouble, it's often on account of something he thought up inside that hard dome where he keeps his brain. Sometimes I wish I had an imagination a dozenth as vivid as his.

I should include Ur-ronn in the list, since she comes along sometimes. Ur-ronn's almost as much of a book maniac as Huck and me. Still, she's urrish, and there's a limit to how much of a humicker any urs can be, before planting four feet and saying whoa.

They don't take to nicknames, for instance.

Once, when we were reading a mess of old Greek myths, Huck tried calling Ur-ronn "Centaur." I guess you could say an urs sort of looks like one of those fabled creatures--if you'd just been conked on the head by a brick and can't see or think too well from the pain. But Ur-ronn disliked the comparison and showed it by swinging her long neck like a whip, nearly taking off one of Huck's eyestalks with a snap of her three-way mouth

"Huck only said "Centaur" just that once.

Ur-ronn is a niece of Uriel, who runs a forge next to fiery lava pools, high up on Mount Guenn. She won a scholarship to 'prentice as a smith instead of staying with the herds and caravans on the grassy plain. Too bad her aunt keeps Ur-ronn busy most of the time and won't ever let her go off in the boat with us, on account of urs can't swim.

Ur-ronn used to read a lot, back in that prairie school. Books we never heard of in this hick corner of the Slope. She tells us the stories she can recollect, like all about Crazy Horse and Genghis Khan, and urrish hero-warriors from those big battles they had with the humans, after Earthers came to Jijo but before the Commons got patched together and they started the Great Peace.

It'd be uttergloss if our gang could be a complete Six, like when Drake and Ur-jushen and their comrades went on the Big Quest and were the very first to set eyes on the Holy Egg. But the only traeki in town is the pharmacist, and that er is too old to make a new stack of rings we could play with. As for humans, their nearest village is several days from here. So I guess we're stuck being just a foursome.

Too bad. Humans are gloss. They brought books to Jijo and speak Anglic better than anybody, except me and maybe Huck. Also, a human kid's shaped kind of like a small hoon, so he could go nearly all the same places I can with my two long legs. Ur-ronn may be able to run fast, but she can't go into water, and Pincer can't wander too far from it, and poor Huck has to stay where the ground is level enough for her wheels.

None of them can climb a tree.

Still, they're my pals. Anyway, there are things they can do that I can't, so I guess it evens out.

Copyright © 1995 by David Brin


A Review of the Trilogy

- ScoLgo
Funny, young, kind of draggy

- couchtomoon
Brightness Reef

- Winspurd


No alternate cover images currently exist for this novel.