cover image Heaven's Reach

Heaven's Reach

David Brin. Spectra Books, $24.95 (464pp) ISBN 978-0-553-10174-4

The final book in Brin's Uplift Storm Trilogy (Infinity's Shore; Brightness Reef) sets space opera against a canvas that spans the galaxies, colored with interstellar conflict and peopled with smart-mouthed chimpanzees, overwhelmed humans and neo-dolphins who form the stalwart crew of the spaceship Streaker. The narrative, which unfolds at frenzied speed, opens with the Earth under attack by an alliance of evil aliens, the essence of space itself shaking apart and the beleaguered Streaker, captained by Dr. Gillian Baskin, trying to outrun a Jophurian battleship that seeks to destroy it. Rescue comes in the unlikely form of a wormhole that delivers the Streaker to the Old Ones, the godlike beings responsible for nurturing sentient life throughout the Five Galaxies and for inaugurating the UpLift process. While Baskin and her crew fear that the Old Ones are offering them ""the embrace of gravitational tides,"" an interplanetary form of comfortable retirement, they learn that in fact they have been selected for a very special purpose: to journey to remote space, where the missing eight of the original Thirteen Civilized Galaxies wait to be contacted. Tension builds and builds--and then stumbles to a stop. Brin fans will find plenty to gorge themselves on here, including Niss Machines, Galactic Library cubes and Zang ship-entities, and Brin does offer answers to riddles he posed as far back as Startide Rising. But his choice of a conclusion for his massive and immensely popular trilogy proves a letdown, and then some. (June)