Startide Rising – David Brin (1982)
‘The Terran exploration vessel ‘Streaker’ has crashed on the uncharted water-world of Kithrup, bearing one of the most important discoveries in Galactic History. Above, in space, armadas of alien races clash in a titanic struggle to claim her. Below, a handful of her human and dolphin crew battles armed rebellion and a hostile planet to safeguard her secret – the fate of the Progenitors, the fabled First Race who seeded wisdom throughout the stars.’
Blurb from the 1985 Bantam paperback edition
We are still within Brin’s Uplift Universe, although Brin employs a completely different cast for this sequel. the events of ‘Sundiver’ are referred to briefly, and Jacob Demwa is mentioned in passing.
‘The Streaker’ An Earth vessel, crewed (as an experiment) by ‘uplifted’ dolphins, some humans and a chimpanzee scientist has stumbled upon an abandoned fleet of starships, each the size of a moon, held in stasis for immeasurable aeons.
the dolphins make the fatal mistake of sending a message back to Earth which is intercepted by various galactic factions, some of whom have beliefs that the Progenitors (i.e. the first intelligent race in the five galaxies) are asleep and will one day return to rid the cosmos of unbelievers. Thus, the Streaker is pursued through space by fanatical bands of aliens with various agendae.
Hiding out on the water planet of Kithrup, the Earthlings have a short breathing space while the aliens fight each other for the right to claim the prize.
They are not yet aware that ‘Streaker’ carries back a corpse from one of the ships, a humanoid alien which the portable Galactic Library cannot identify as any recorded intelligent species.
Meanwhile, the human Professor Metz, who is part of the dolphin Uplift programme has brought some of his ‘special’ dolphins aboard, dolphins which seem to be larger and more aggressive than dolphins should normally be.
Also, the planet Kithrup itself presents mysteries since not only does it hold a promising pre-sentient race but appears to be fostering a gestalt intelligence in its metal-rich oceans.
This is probably the most satisfying of the Uplift novels, being a reasonable length and giving equal weight to characterisation and action. After this the books become larger, denser and generally more unwieldy, although they are not without their individual charm and page-turning addictive quality.