The Orion's Arm Universe Project Forums

A River of Time
I'm reading through David Brin's "A River of Time" anthology of short stories, and a lot of these seem like perfect inspiration material for Orion's Arm. His "Uplift" universe is a deep study into a multi-galactic society based around provolution.

In A River of Time...

"The Crystal Spheres" is a transhumanist look at an ancient spacer awoken by the human government to examine a habitable star system - the first habitable system not swathed by a "crystal sphere," which is the answer to the Fermi Paradox. It won a Hugo Award and is very poignant.

"The Fourth Vocation of George Gustaf" is a study of a utopian society where the government forces its citizens to have several vocations and electives to stay gainfully employed and educated. George Gustaf happens to be heir to most of the monarchies of the pre-ascension world and, after being found by a budding sociologist (trying to write a paper for his mandatory elective), the androids and government agree that, yes, Gustaf should be the boss. For OA, it's an interesting look at employment in a utopian, post-scarcity society.

"Senses 3 and 6" is a story about a human astronaut who has returned to Earth from secret interstellar colonies that were destroyed by a galaxy-dominating race (another answer to the Fermi Paradox.) He disguises himself as a motorcycle-riding bar bouncer to avoid the agents of the alien race and his flashbacks look at how the US attempted to build a series of interstellar colonies in secret, explaining why US engineering seemed to stumble so much in the 1970s - each $1000 toilet seat was part of the enormous cover story of building the arks.

"Just a Hint" is a story of two races, humanity and an unnamed 'sophont' (the term is used in the story) watching each other and wondering how each cannot figure out solutions to problems the other has solved. Written in the Cold War, the aliens are surprised humans didn't outlaw war after inventing nukes, while the aliens have missed obvious problems with pollution from rampant industrialization.

Lungfish" is entirely available at the provided link. It is a look at a galaxy settled by self-reproducing probes and how they tie into the Fermi Paradox. The story is from the perspective of one of the probes lurking in the asteroid belt and watching humanity gradually figure out the enormous danger around them. It manages to touch on interstellar, sub-light probes; the development of AIs; uploaded mentalities and cyborgs; and berserkers in one short story.

"Tourjours Voir" looks at the dangers of spacers who need to induce deja vu to make interstellar jumps. It is a 250-word story entirely available at that link.

"Tank Farm Dynamo" is a look at some at the potential applications of shuttle external tanks and electrodynamic tethers. It's not a stellar story but it is a great introduction to electrodynamic tethers.

"Thor Meets Captain America" isn't much of an OA-related story, but it is fun. It also delivers a very grim vision of a Hitler-victorious scenario, with little hints of hope in it. It was a Hugo award nominee for best short story, and should've won it.

"Loom of Thessaly" is another non-OA story, but a fun tale about a man who stumbles over the Fates weaving mankind's, well, fate. A summary in a few words: Ancient goddesses vs. SDI.

Most of the stories are available at Brin's website / Amazon / Barnes and Noble individually if you don't feel like buying the whole River of Time anthology.
Mike Miller, Materials Engineer

"Everbody's always in favor of saving Hitler's brain, but when you put it in the body of a great white shark, oh, suddenly you've gone too far." -- Professor Farnsworth, Futurama
The Uplift universe probably inspired Anders when he was setting out the foundations of the OA universe. It had less effect on me, because I'd never read any Brin until well after I joined the project. At one point we wrote to him for permission to use the term Uplift, and he, or rather his agent, advised against it. So we developed the term 'provolve' instead.

Since that time, I've 'friended' him on Facebook, and he is a great bloke; his work on sousveillance and the Fermi Paradox is essential reading. I now prefer the fact that we have our own term for uplift; it makes more sense to me.
I have this book - I first read a couple of the stories (The Crystal Spheres and Tank Farm Dynamo) in Analog back in HS IIRC. It's one of my favorite Brin story collections and has some neat ideas in it.

Lungfish has been incorporated into Brin's novel Existence btw - although not in a fashion I find entirely satisfying (if he were to produce a sequel or three, I might change that assessment).


Forum Jump:

Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)