Brightness Reef
Brightness Reef is a 1995 science fiction
Science fiction
Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with imaginary but more or less plausible content such as future settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, aliens, and paranormal abilities...

 novel by David Brin
David Brin
Glen David Brin, Ph.D. is an American scientist and award-winning author of science fiction. He has received the Hugo, Locus, Campbell and Nebula Awards.-Biography:...

 and the fourth book of six set in his Uplift Universe
Uplift Universe
The Uplift Universe is a fictional universe created by science fiction writer David Brin. A central feature in this universe is the process of biological uplift.His books which take place in this universe:* Sundiver...

 (preceded by The Uplift War
The Uplift War
The Uplift War is a 1987 science fiction novel by David Brin and the third book of six set in his Uplift Universe. It was nominated as the best novel for the 1987 Nebula Award and won the 1988 Hugo and Locus Awards...

and followed by Infinity's Shore
Infinity's Shore
Infinity's Shore is the second novel in the Uplift Storm series by David Brin. The plot follows the adventures of the Jijoan exiles, although the crew of Streaker are minor characters.- Translations :...

). It was nominated for both the Hugo
Hugo Award
The Hugo Awards are given annually for the best science fiction or fantasy works and achievements of the previous year. The award is named after Hugo Gernsback, the founder of the pioneering science fiction magazine Amazing Stories, and was officially named the Science Fiction Achievement Awards...

 and Locus
Locus Award
The Locus Award is a literary award established in 1971 and presented to winners of Locus magazine's annual readers' poll. Currently, the Locus Awards are presented at an annual banquet...

 Awards in 1996.


Starting around the year 930 C.E.
Common Era
Common Era ,abbreviated as CE, is an alternative designation for the calendar era originally introduced by Dionysius Exiguus in the 6th century, traditionally identified with Anno Domini .Dates before the year 1 CE are indicated by the usage of BCE, short for Before the Common Era Common Era...

, and continuing until the 23rd century, sooners belonging to eight patron-class races illegally plant colonies on the planet Jijo. ("Sooner" is a term from US history, and is used in the Uplift stories to describe illegal settlers on worlds that have been declared fallow, i.e. to be left uncolonized so that the ecosystem will recover and native intelligences may have a chance to develop.) The eight races are: g'Keks, Traeki (similar to Jophur), Glavers, Qheuen, Hoon, Tytlal (AKA noor beast), 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
Wildlife includes all non-domesticated plants, animals and other organisms. Domesticating wild plant and animal species for human benefit has occurred many times all over the planet, and has a major impact on the environment, both positive and negative....


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 oversees his recovery, the story shifts to her two brothers, Lark and Dwer. Lark is a widely known biologist
A biologist is a scientist devoted to and producing results in biology through the study of life. Typically biologists study organisms and their relationship to their environment. Biologists involved in basic research attempt to discover underlying mechanisms that govern how organisms work...

 and a heretic
Heresy is a controversial or novel change to a system of beliefs, especially a religion, that conflicts with established dogma. It is distinct from apostasy, which is the formal denunciation of one's religion, principles or cause, and blasphemy, which is irreverence toward religion...

: 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 their ancestors' sin of settling on Jijo. Dwer is a master hunter who serves the Council of the Six Races by keeping members of all sooner races from going beyond the Slope. The other two main characters are the young adult — and keen writer — Alvin the Hoon (proper name: Hph-Wayuo)
Alvin Hph-wayuo
Alvin Hph-wayuo is a fictional character in David Brin's Uplift Universe. He is a Hoon, the son of Mu-phauwq and Yowg-wayuo, from the village of Wuphon's Port in fictional planet Jijo...

 and traeki High-Sage Asx.

On a mission for the Council, (with an annoying noor called Mudfoot in tow) Dwer encounters a teenage girl, Rety, who was raised in a human tribe in the forbidden lands beyond the Slope. She is chasing a robotic
Robots in literature
Artificial humans and autonomous artificial servants have a long history in human culture, though the term Robot and its modern literary conception as a mobile machine equipped with an advanced artificial intelligence are more fairly recent...

Birds are feathered, winged, bipedal, endothermic , egg-laying, vertebrate animals. Around 10,000 living species and 188 families makes them the most speciose class of tetrapod vertebrates. They inhabit ecosystems across the globe, from the Arctic to the Antarctic. Extant birds range in size from...

 she discovered spying on a hunting party of her tribe. She escapes from 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 arrives and shoots down the robot bird. In the flames and confusion, Dwer and Rety are rescued by Lark.

The robot bird's origins remain mysterious, but the second robot came from a starship
A starship or interstellar spacecraft is a theoretical spacecraft designed for traveling between the stars, as opposed to a vehicle designed for orbital spaceflight or interplanetary travel....

 that landed near the Glade of Gathering (the center of the annual Gathering festival). Several humans emerge from the starship and proclaim themselves servants of the Rothen — the secret patrons of Humanity. The Rothen representatives (also called Daniks) are very secretive about their purpose on Jijo, but they request the assistance of the council of Sages in their exploration of Jijo, and the council provides the assistance in an attempt to discover what the Rothen are hiding. Lark is employed as a biologist to escort the Danik researcher Ling as she surveys Jijo's biosphere.

On the southern coast of the slope, Alvin and his friends Huck (a g'Kek), Pincer-Tip (a qheuen) and Ur-ronn (an urs) receive unexpected assistance from Uriel the smith
Smith (metalwork)
A metalsmith, often shortened to smith, is a person involved in making metal objects. In contemporary use a metalsmith is a person who uses metal as a material, uses traditional metalsmithing techniques , whose work thematically relates to the practice or history of the practice, or who engages in...

 in completing their summer project: a submarine
A submarine is a watercraft capable of independent operation below the surface of the water. It differs from a submersible, which has more limited underwater capability...

 to explore part of the Midden
A midden, is an old dump for domestic waste which may consist of animal bone, human excrement, botanical material, vermin, shells, sherds, lithics , and other artifacts and ecofacts associated with past human occupation...

 — an undersea
Underwater is a term describing the realm below the surface of water where the water exists in a natural feature such as an ocean, sea, lake, pond, or river. Three quarters of the planet Earth is covered by water...

 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 the bodies of their dead and non-decomposable trash (all of which are called "dross"). In return for her assistance, Uriel requests that Alvin and his friends locate a hidden cache of galactic technology.

Rety recovers from her injuries after the robot firefight and is sent to the Glade of Gathering where the council and a Rothen shuttle reside. When the council concludes that the Rothen may destroy all sooners on Jijo to keep their existence and activities 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, adopts a small male urs (yee) as her 'husband' and together they steal the remains of the robotic bird she tracked from the Sage studying it, and join the Rothen — using the bird as a bartering chip.

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 the Danik pilot Kunn subjecting the human 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
A gun is a muzzle or breech-loaded projectile-firing weapon. There are various definitions depending on the nation and branch of service. A "gun" may be distinguished from other firearms in being a crew-served weapon such as a howitzer or mortar, as opposed to a small arm like a rifle or pistol,...

 (made without any metal
A metal , is an element, compound, or alloy that is a good conductor of both electricity and heat. Metals are usually malleable and shiny, that is they reflect most of incident light...

) the expedition members attack the robot and damage it. When the robot fires back, Dwer climbs aboard to damage its weapons pod. He's still on the robot when it begins to retreat; also on the robot is Rety and the noor Mudfoot.

The mute stranger and Sara travel to Biblios — the great library of Jijo — where Ariana Foo, a retired human sage, attempts to discern the stranger's origins. After the stranger recognizes music from Earth, Ariana 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 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 urrish retribution, as the urs can travel faster than they. Shortly thereafter, the sound of hooves signals the arrival of women riding horses (thought to be extinct on Jijo) in the company of friendly urs.

In the Glade, two Rothen depart their ship to greet the denizens of Jijo and ask to participate in a ceremony to see the Holy Egg — a rock-like Jijoian artifact of great religious and spiritual importance to the Six Races. 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 or the Holy Egg will dispel the Rothen from the planet. The Rothen leader, Ro-kenn says the heretic has no power to stop him, but soon after there is an explosion down slope and the Rothen research station and several Rothen robots are destroyed.

A quick investigation reveals the Holy Egg did nothing — the heretics planted and ignited explosives beneath the shuttle. The second Rothen, Ro-pol, and several Danik servants are dead. In a fit of rage, Ro-kenn points to a fleck in the sky and says it is his ship decelerating from orbit
Planetary orbit
In physics, an orbit is the gravitationally curved path of an object around a point in space, for example the orbit of a planet around the center of a star system, such as the Solar System...

 to bring retribution.

In the course of several arguments between the council sages and Ro-kenn it is revealed that the Rothen intended to use the Holy Egg to transmit thoughts of hatred to the participants and turn the Jijoan peoples against one another. Following this realization, the Jijoan militias assault the remaining Galactics and manage to capture Ro-kenn and his remaining Danik servants.

External links


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    : "Rédemption" ("Redemption"), 1997.
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    : "Rafa jasności" ("The Reef of Brightness"), 1997.
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