Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy The Postman Analysis
David Brin was voted favorite writer of the 1980’s in a Locus magazine poll. Critics awarded both a Hugo and a Nebula to Startide Rising (1983; revised in 1985) and a Hugo to The Uplift War (1987). Both are part of the Uplift sequence, which also includes Sundiver (1980).
Brin holds a doctorate in astrophysics and has experience as a working scientist. He is considered a writer of hard science fiction, one who uses scientific extrapolations and explanations in his plots. Brin adds complexity with themes drawn from soft science fiction, a subgenre of works that use social sciences and deal more with human affairs than with the technology that predominates in hard science fiction. Brin’s blend expands the boundaries and blurs the distinctions between the types.
The Postman, Brin’s fourth novel, illustrates this combination. Technological explanations for the holocaust are not stressed. As the prelude suggests, the life-and-death struggle for recovery is more significant. Brin examines standards of human and governmental behavior in a world where daily survival is not always a minimum expectation.
The Postman centers on behavioral aspects of the human uplift process. Krantz wants leaders to help people rise from the ashes of the dying world and rebuild a new, civilized world. His meditations on leadership and the ethical qualities needed emphasize this theme. Who will be responsible for leadership? What types of people make good leaders? How long must people be responsible? How do people learn to change behavior? Does it take anger, shame, and lies to convince people to rise to their full potential as human beings?
Brin explores similar themes in other works. Sundiver, Startide Rising, and The Uplift War (1987) have premises showing that all thinking life—in any form—-takes part in an evolutionary uplift. Earth (1990) combines the consequences of a scientific accident with an impassioned call for human responsibility to the endangered planet, and Glory Season (1993)...
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