A lot of reviewers say it isn't, despite the dolphins, but Brin seems to be trying for ambiguity and has stated

'some will argue that my latest novel, Existence is a precursor to the uplift novels. I'll let you decide for yourself...'

I haven't read the other novels in a while, what contradictions or connections are there?

I remember Earth was in a fallow zone for some amount of time. Could all of the crystal virus backstory have taken place there, with species rising and dying, unaware of FTL and the Five Galaxies, etc.?

In the case of contradictions, could this be a reboot?

  • Since the author himself is striving for ambiguity, what are you expecting us to say?
    – Valorum
    Apr 26, 2015 at 20:33
  • 1
    What the evidence for or against is. Apr 26, 2015 at 21:07

2 Answers 2


According to the author, David Brin, on his website, Existence is tangentially related to the Uplift Sagas.

Story "cover" for "Aficionado" has the author's name and "An excerpt from Existence"; a window shows a suited person at the controls of a spacecraft of some sort, with several other brightly-coloured tear-drop shaped craft flying in various directions between the horizon of an Earth-like planet below and a grey moon above.

  • I've posted here two short stories based in the Uplift universe. One, "Aficionado", first appeared in Popular Science and is now part of Existence. This story details the very beginnings of Earth's Uplift Project. The other, "Temptation," first appeared in Robert Silverberg's anthology Far Horizons and features the adventures of a female dolphin on the faraway world, Jijo, who must escape from two of her own kind and then penetrate a deeply dangerous ancient secret. From: Existence Website

It would seem unlikely.

While the short story "Aficionado" forms part of the narrative of Existence, that is the only reference to Uplift that we see in any of the book.

All interstellar travel in Existence is shown as slower than light. Both the Crystal Viruses and the Von Neumann type probe snippet that originated in the short story "Lungfish". The Uplift universe has multiple ways to evade the barrier of faster than light travel.

Whilst it is on the surface plausible that Existence takes place before contact in the Uplift universe, given that all the sources of Crystal Viruses believe they have no other way to spread than to use the virus method that would suggest large numbers of species that have reached intelligence and are cut off from the Civilization of the Five Galaxies. Given the reaction of other sentients to the existence of mankind as a wolfling race having dozens of them littered around the place, as well as machine colonists making the same mistake, would seem unlikely

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    I agree. Brin might have intended Afictionado to be an Uplift story, but by placing it in the Existence universe in which large numbers of intelligent life forms have no idea that FTL or the greater Galactic society exist, Brin has moved the story out of the Uplift universe, and into a universe that just happens to share the concept of (lower-case) "uplift"
    – Andrew
    Jul 5, 2022 at 23:45

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