The year 1950 marked the start of the greatest half-century of scientific and
technological progress in the history of humanity. Every aspect of our world
would be reshaped over the next 50 years by the flood of knowledge and capability
unleashed by organized scientific inquiry. Appropriately enough, one of the
greatest visionaries of the science fiction world, David Brin, was born in this
year. Somehow better prepared for the future that is unfolding before us than
most, Brin is an accomplished writer whose works span physical research,
public policy, and science fiction in various media and lengths.
Like many of the best science fiction authors, Brin has impeccable scientific credentials. He
earned a BS in physics from Caltech in 1973 and a doctorate from UCSD
in 1981. Since then he has done research for NASA, the California Space Institute, and
In addition to his scientific work, Brin writes literary criticism and public affairs
commentary for publications such as the Los Angeles Times Book Review, the New York
Times Magazine, the Times of London, and New Scientist. He has published
a book-length treatment of public policy as it relates to individual privacy, The
Transparent Society, in which he argues for all data from all people to always
be public record.
But he is best known as one of the three B's of science fiction. Through the 1980s
and 1990s he, along with Greg Bear and Gregory Benford, re-established hard,
scientifically based fiction as the backbone of the science-fiction genre. Through
the New Wave of science fiction in the late 1960s and through the 1970s "sciences"
such as sociology and psychoanalysis came into science fiction vogue. These stories
were largely fantasies, attempts by the authors to question social issues and to advance
(primarily leftist) social theories in worlds loosely modeled on our own.
That era was conclusively ended in 1980 with the publication of Brin's first novel,
Sundiver. The first novel in the Uplift series, Sundiver represented a radical
change in the way science fiction had been done for the past decade. Physics and
biology returned to the forefront as Brin followed the logical consequences of our
steadily growing biological knowledge to a new set of galactic implications. In the
process, he invented a profound new rationale for the formation of galactic civilization,
Uplift, and changed science fiction forever.
Uplift is the first serious contender to the imperial urge to empire as an organizing
principle for a galactic civilization. To uplift is to take a pre-sentient species
and, through the application of advanced genetic engineering techniques, bring the
species to a state of full, language-using, tool-making, symbol-manipulating intelligence.
On a civilizational scale it provides a moral imperative capable of knitting together
tens of thousands of civilizations on millions of worlds.
The Uplift series continued through two more books in the original series, Startide Rising (1984)
and The Uplift War (1988), both of which won Hugo Awards for best novel. Brin penned three
more Uplift novels in the 1990s, Brightness Reef, Infinity's Shore, and Heaven's Reach, which
are essentially followups to Startide Rising.
In addition to the Uplift novels Brin has written stand alone science fiction, novels set
in Isaac Asimov's Foundation universe, and has collaborated with Gregory Benford on
a science fiction novel, Heart of the Comet.
- Startide Rising, Hugo Award, Best Novel, 1984, Nebula Award, Best Novel, 1983
- The Crystal Spheres, Hugo Award, Best Short Story, 1985
- John W. Campell Award, 1986
- The Uplift War, Hugo Award, Best Novel, 1988