Details: (c) 1980 David Brin; Pub Orbit 1996; ISBN 1-85723-370-0
Verdict: Sundiver has some cute ideas but is badly written.
Reasons for reading it: neonchameleon recommended it to me absolutely ages ago, and I didn't find it for a while and then didn't get round to reading it cos I was kept very busy with lethargic_man and rysmiel's books.
How it came into my hands: Dundee charity shops.
I have to leave in ten minutes, but I don't really want to waste many words on Sundiver anyway. It's a perfect embodiment of why lots of people hate "hard" science fiction. The characterization sucks and there is way too much exposition (Brin's author bio makes a great point about how he really does know physics, but the extended physics lectures are so boring I couldn't be bothered to check them for plausibility and there's a fair bit of handwaving technobabble at the best of times). There's violence and space exploration and a fair amount of intergalactic politics, but not much to make the reader care about any of them. The human relationships and emotions are overdescribed and one-dimensional even when the narration spells out exactly why each character reacts in a particular way. The poetic and mystical bits are just cringingly awful. Oh, and Brin appears to have far more empathy for weird aliens than human women.
Merits? It's accessible and dramatic, and would probably make a good script for a trashy film. And I really like the set-up of a few years after First Contact where humans appear to be an anomaly in a universe where the other sentient races are all connected to eachother. I also like the idea of a voyage into the sun and encounter with sun-dwelling beings, it's certainly imaginative.
I wouldn't burn it; it's the kind of thing that might be appreciated by a reading-reluctant teenaged boy who found Harry Potter too girly. It most certainly didn't inspire me to read the multiple sequels, though. What am I missing here, neonchameleon?