Errors in the Uplift Universe

This is a list of nit-picking errors found in the Uplift Universe, based on David Brin's books or Stefan Jones's GURPS Uplift Role-playing book.

As usual, I recomend reading the books before reading my comments, since I may put spoilers here


  1. In Sundiver, the Kanten tells Jacob Demwa to meet him on "next Thursday". This day is 2246-01-12. This day is a Monday.

  2. The Uplift Timeline, based on Stefan's GURPS book, dates the Sundiver Incident in 2290.

    Startide Rising

  3. Use of pre-scientific units! It's absurd that Humans in the XXV Century would use archaic units, but Tom Orley (Startide Rising, Tom Orley, Chapter 33) mentions a speed of 200 knots, and dolphins (The Psi-bomb, Chapter 49) mention a distance of 1000 miles. With the help from the conversion tables from Ronald T. Kneusel's Conversion Page, I could compute the travel time for Tom, and it gave something around 5 hours (uncertainty coming from the fact that there are two miles, ranging from 1.6 to 1.85 km). This is wrong, since Tom's trip, apparently, began with Kithrup's Sunrise and ended with Kithrup's Sunset, and Kithrup's Day is longer than Earth's Day.

    Uplift War

  4. In Uplift War Fiben tells Gailet that Earth was recognized as a patron during the 22nd century. Since Contact was around 2211 (or 2250 in the Uplift Timeline), this must have happened during the 23rd century.

  5. In Uplift War, Chapter 4, Robert, p.19, the Sundiver incident and the Dolphin Uplift are mentioned as happening 2 centuries before the invasion of Garth. In Infinity's Shore, Part Four, Streakers, Kaa, Dolphins used tools 300 years before Streaker.

  6. What is the spectral class of Gimelhai, Garth's Sun? In Uplift War, p.102, it's said it has a bluish light, but at p.614 it's mentioned as a modest yellow sun:
    p.102: (...) The bright, bluish light of Garth's sun was disconcerting. (...)
    p.614: Tension built as the armada advanced closer to the system's modest yellow sun. (...)

    Brightness Reef

  7. Brightness Reef, Chapter X, Dwer, p.234 of my edition. Dwer talks to Danel Ozawa, who doesn't correct him:
    "I still don't get it. What are humans adventurers doing out here in Galaxy Two? I thought Earthlings were crude, ignorant trash, even in their own little part of Galaxy Four!"
    It should be reversed: Jijo is in Galaxy Four and Earth in Galaxy Two

  8. Brightness Reef, Chapter XV, Alvin, p.321 of my edition (emphasis mine):
    I left off with little Ziz - the traeki partial we all witnessed being vlenned a week ago, on the day Gybz turned erself into Tyug and forgot all about starships - slithering its way from pen to derrick, where we were about to test the bathy for the first time
    The a week ago is wrong. It doesn't fit with the other data. But then I can't fit Alvin's Tale with the rest of the book.

  9. How much is an arrowflight? In Brightness Reef, Chapter V, Alvin, the distance from Wuphon Port to Mount Guenn is given as 40 arrowflights. In Brightness Reef, Chapter XV, Alvin, the Rift far shore is given as 100 or so arrowflights. However, a mere glance at Jijo's Map shows that these two measures are incompatible.

  10. In Brightness Reef, Chapter XIV, Lark, the Rothen airship crosses the Rift some hundred arrowflights west of Terminus Rock. Even if an arrowflight turns out to be a few meters, this would make the crossing impossible, because Terminus Rock marks the western extreme of the Rift (see Jijo's Map). West must be a typographical error for East .

    Infinity's Shore

  11. The Glossary of Infinity's Shore defines a Dura as 1/3 of a minute, and a Pidura as "67 duras, approximately 4 days". This is a typo, a Pidura is approximately 4 Jijo Months. See my Jijo Timeline for more details.

    Heaven's Reach

  12. The volume of the Fractal System in Heaven's Reach, Part Two, Alvin's Journal, p.133 is given as approximately 30 astrons or a trillionth of a cubic parsec. Since 1 parsec = 1 / 1" astronomical units, a cubic parsec is about 8.8 1015 cubic astronomical units. Using the scientifically correct trillion = 1018, the volume should be of the order of 3400 trillionths of a cubic parsec. Using the wrong but usual trillion = 1012, the volume should be of the order of 3.4 quadrillionths of a cubic parsec.

  13. In Heaven's Reach, Part Two, Alvin's Journal, p.138, Ur-ronn gives the radius of the Fractal System as approximately 3 times Jijo's orbital radius. Using this measure and the volume of the Fractal System gives a Jijo's orbital radius too short:
    VolumeFractal System = 4/3 p R3

    VFractal System = 30 AU3

    -> RFractal System = 1.9 AU

    -> RJijo's Orbit = 0.64 AU

    With this radius, it's possible to compute the mass of Jijo-S in Solar Masses, using Kepler's Third Law:
    G M Period2 = 4 p2 a3

    or, with the period in Years and the orbital semi-major axis a in Astronomical Units:
    MJijo-S = a3 / Period2 (Solar Masses)

    using the value PeriodJijo = 280 / 350 Years:
    MJijo-S = 0.42 MSol

    which would make Jijo-S a M1-type star, too cold (3400 Kelvin) to heat Jijo (11% of the heat Earth receives from the Sun). Check my page Plan a Planet Orbiting a Main Sequence Star to play with those numbers.

    Two or more books

  14. In Startide Rising, Chapter 12, Galactics, p.61, the paktaar is used as a unit of time by the Soro; in the context it is a small interval (minutes to days).

    In Uplift War, Chapter 4, Robert, p.31, Contact happened 89 paktaars before the War. In Chapter 9, Uthacalthing, p.62, the mictaar is used as a unit of time, probably the same as a midura (71 minutes, see my Jijo Timeline). In Chapter 11, Galactics, p.68, the miktaar is used as a unit of time, but here the implication is a long time (probably many days). In Heaven's Reach, Part II, Kaa, p.126, we see again the mictaar as a unit of time, as the time Kaa took to cross the distance from Tanith to Calafia (a 5-Galaxies record) was 5 1/4 mictaars. In Uplift War, Chapter 60, Uthacalthing, p.400, 12 sistaars is a unit of distance that may be crossed by a walking humanoid.

    Since in the Uplift Storm Trilogy <prefix>dura (including a midura = 71 minutes, see the Timeline of Jijo for details) is consistently used as units of time, and the mictaar is used as unit of distance (in hyperspace), I suspect Uplift War was reckless with the nomenclature, and it changed between the two "trilogies".

    The conjecture 1 <prefix>ktaar = 1 <prefix>dura * c doesn't fit the text.

  15. Who built Streaker? Startide Rising, Chapter 1, Toshio, p.13 and Chapter 14, Dennie, p.77, describe Streaker as if she was 100% man-made, with some Galactic technologies added. In Infinity's Shore, Part Four, Tsh't, p.173, the Streaker was built 900 years ago by the Puntictin.

  16. In Brightness Reef, Part X, Dwer, p.234, the Inheritors are mentioned as responsible for the genocide of the g'Keks. In Infinity's Shore, it's apparent that the Jophur were responsible for their genocide, and the Jophur belong to the Obeyer Alliance (the Tandu belong to the Inheritors Alliance).

  17. At the end of Brightness Reef, Lark and Ling watch the return of the Rothen ship, and, about a midura later, it's imprisonment by the Jophur ship's liquid light. At the beginning of Infinity's Shore, these events are retold, with the suggestion that more than one day had passed.

  18. What are the Canaan Colonies? In Uplift War, Chapter 6, Uthacalthing Deemi and Horst are mentioned as disaster worlds among the Canaan Colonies. In Heaven's Reach, Part 3, Harry Canaan was taken by the Soro and Horst by the Tandu.

  19. How long is a mictaar? In Heaven's Reach, Part I, Sara, p.14, 1/2 mictaar of hyperspace is equivalent to 1/20 of a light-year. This is consistent with the use in Infinity's Shore, Part 10, Gillian, p.614, where Streaker is 7 mictaars away from safety. However, in Brightness Reef, Part 8, Lark, p.180, 1/2 mictaar is a distance that can be crossed by a running man in less than a few hours.

Most of the ideas above were debated and improved in discussions in the Brin-L Mailing List.

Created: 1999-05-13

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