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Startide Rising by David Brin
Published by Spectra
Reviewed by Leigh Kimmel
Humanity has been trying to prove itself in the ancient and powerful civilization in the Five Galaxies, but all its efforts only seem to make matters worse. The Streaker was supposed to prove the fitness of uplifted dolphins to pilot starships. In the process its crew stumbled across a secret that set a fleet of Galactic fanatics in hot pursuit. The Streaker has eluded capture so far only because the Galactic factions are as quick to fight among themselves as to pursue their quarry.
Even so, the Galactics have done damage, and the Streaker's crew must make repairs. They choose the water-world of Kithrup for a haven, since its seas will enable the dolphins to move freely about their duties. But Kithrup holds terrible secrets just waiting for them to stumble upon, secrets that reflect upon the entire Galactic tradition of Uplift.
As if that isn't enough, Streaker carries her own seeds of destruction. Not all scientists involved in the project to Uplift dolphins are following the same program. Some have dabbled in other gene-pools, adding dangerous combinations to a species already made volatile by previous programs of genetic and cultural intervention.
Somehow the mixed dolphin and human crew must repair their ship and be on their way home before the feuding Galactics discover them. Only then can they carry their precious cargo home to Earth, to assure humanity its place among the starfaring races of the Five Galaxies.
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Review posted December 15, 2000
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