Series: Uplift 5
Reviewed date: 2006 Jan 21
Infinity's Shore is the second book in David Brin's 1800-page Uplift Storm story. It's billed as a trilogy, but it is nothing more than a long book chopped into three pieces.
The setting is the same as in the previous book, Brightness Reef: the planet Jijo. The Galactic Institute has declared Jijo a fallow planet, off limits to any intelligent beings. But in violation of Galactic law, six bands of settles have illegally made their home on Jijo. Despite being from different races, they live together in relative harmony. In Brightness Reef, the settlers are discovered by the Rothens and the Jophur, galactic criminals who seem bent on plundering Jijo and covering their tracks by committing genocide. The Jijoans must find a way to defeat the well-armed invaders if they are to live.
The main development in Infinity's Shore is the introduction of Streaker, the dolphin ship from David Brin's previous book Startide Rising. The dolphins have taken refuge on Jijo to make repairs to their ship, and it becomes apparent that the Rothens and the Jophur have come to Jijo in pursuit of the dolphins. The Jijoans and the dolphins manage to pool their resources in an effort to help Streaker escape from Jijo--hopefully drawing the Rothens and Jophur away with them, thus saving Jijo.
Brightness Reef suffers from character glut, and Infinity's Shore is even worse. The cast list at the book's beginning lists 68 characters. It would take remarkable skill to write a cohesive story with 68 major characters. David Brin is an excellent writer but even he is not up to the task. Infinity's Shore is a fractured and disjointed story. Further, Brin has an irritating tendency to show everything except the most intense and most interesting events. He will spend pages on the build-up to the climax, only to cut away at the critical moment. He then spends dozens of pages on other characters and their boring events. By the time he gets back around to the characters whose fate we are waiting anxiously to know, they have already gotten out of their jam. If we're lucky, one of the characters will mention in passing how they managed to escape.
Brin is a skilled writer, but this time he has tried too hard to write an epic. I do not recommend Infinity's Shore. Read Brin's excellent Sundiver instead.