Who do you send to meet the alien when the alien doesn't want to meet?
After all, Theseus damn well was.
She'd taken us a good fifteen AUs towards our destination before something scared her off course. Then she'd skidded north like a startled cat and started climbing: a wild high three-gee burn off the ecliptic, thirteen hundred tonnes of momentum bucking against Newton's First. She'd emptied her Penn tanks, bled dry her substrate mass, squandered a hundred forty days' of fuel in hours. Then a long cold coast through the abyss, years of stingy accounting, the thrust of every antiproton weighed against the drag of sieving it from the void. Teleportation isn't magic: the Icarus stream couldn't send us the actual antimatter it made, only the quantum specs. Theseus had to filterfeed the raw material from space, one ion at a time. For long dark years she'd made do on pure inertia, hording every swallowed atom. Then a flip; ionizing lasers strafing the space ahead; a ramscoop thrown wide in a hard brake. The weight of a trillion trilli
I had a hard time with this book at first, because the protagonist was such an insensitive jerk (to women), but then I realized that was sort of the point and he grew on me. This book is chock filled with gems. I think one of my favorites is the approach to the gnarly alien space station. I'd recommend buying the book for that scene alone. It's rare imagination.
So much foul language I couldn't get past the first page.
Great read!! Lots of "new slang", but all covered in context; For instance Noosphere is simply the news, as we already refer to the blogosphere (what people blog about).. Someone complained that Games Theory was introduced to clutter the story, not so! it was named as the reason behind a discussion of why a decision was made. If you like the hard-science stories, grab a copy of Blindsight.
One of the best books i've read for ages. I particularly liked the way the characters were revealed. An avid read form start to finish. Thank you Mr Watts, I look forwards to further discoveries!
Btw,, No problems with the writing style, nor vocabulary, nor technical terms, even with English as a second language...
One of the best hard SF books of the last decade and most original first-contact stories you're likely to encounter. It can be a bit of a hard read, but it's more than worth it. I've read it twice now and it was even better the second time.
I have to agree with the reviewer normb on several points, this book had concepts that I found interesting but for me there was too much back and forth of the plot line, which at times made it a little hard to follow. I think hardcore sci-fi fans might enjoy this book, but be prepared for a somewhat difficult read.
Hard science ficiton that is well worth the read... but if you are not a fan of this particular genre it may be too much like hard work.
A really well written hard-SF book, exploring the concept of conciousness. Manages to be thought provoking while still keeping up the suspense.
This is a great hard sci-fi, with some really original concepts that I haven't seen with the other authors I usually stick to in this genre.
Some of the story is quite challenging, especially in the beginning where many of the quirks of the characters or language use is not explained, but it's well worth the effort to stick with it.
This is one of the reasons I enjoy sci-fi so much, as it has the ability to introduce new concepts to us and challenge our brain cells while at the same time making us turn each page eager to continue the story and find out what happens next.
It's a great hard sci-fi story. The only real downsite is that there is so little of it. But in literature there are feasts (Lord or the Rings) and there are appetizers. Blindsight is a veritable appetizer buffet. I,too, dislike needless jargon but besides the questionable "noosphere" there is almost none of that in Blindsight.
To people like Noam I can only say: why read and "indie" author like Peter Watts in a necessarily technical genre like sci fi if you aren't willing to be challenge by the fare you read? I'm DELIGHTED whenever a book makes me want to lookup some term or person. For example, Tesla is a standard measurement for magnetic field strength and 12 teslas is quite bad indeed (not that one couldn't have gotten that from the book) considering the earths magnetic field is only 31 micro teslas strong.
I'm really not judging you but seriously, if Blindsight is to hard for you, you might want to pick your books from the entry area of your favorite bookstore.
Absolutely fantastic book. I have read it over several times, enjoying it each and every go round. For the hard sci-fi fan this is a must read.
To those who complain about the unexplained jargon, why should Sci-Fi refer only to cutting edge technology that directly impacts the story and explain it in depth for you? That which is directly relevant to the plot is explained in context and that which isn't well, if you are interested you can always read more on the subject.
This is a thought provoking piece which uses some of the latest scientific discoveries in neuroscience to delve into what humanity really is. Do consciousness and free will even exist or are we all just zombies going through life responding to stimuli and thinking that we actually make decisions?
As thought provoking and worldview challenging as it is well written.
If you like the jist of this story you should read "Hothead" by Simon Ings.
When you use a lot of technical terms in scifi, it should be done to add texture to the story,not to try and obscure it.
After having read about half of the book there just doesn't appear to be any substance to the story. There seemed to be no blinding revelations into humanity (or alien-ness). All a pity really as its the type of story that has a lot of scope to develop in any direction.
Well, I didn't like this book and couldn't finish it (which is a rarity for me). I'll tell you why. First, let me say that Peter Watts is a terrific wordsmith. Crisp, clear well put together writing. I also liked the concepts. Very clever, creative and philosophically interesting.
Now unfortunately, the criticism. There are endless and unnecessary allusions to technological items and concepts that have no function in the story except possibly to express that the author is on the cutting edge and must show it. Oasa emitters, the noosphere, synthesist, meme management, Parker Spiral (with a tesla reading of 11.2! is that bad?) Necker cubes and even allusions to game theory. And this is only in the first few chapters. How many of you are familiar with games theory? It is highly technical mathematical probability based grid analysis constructed to find a nexus to win a zero sum game. It served as an adjunct (though incorrectly described) to a decision in the story. It was not necessary to invoke games theory in this story to augment the simple decision the characters needed to make with their own wetware.
In a Star Trek TV show you may have heard something like 'Captain it's engineering!... The plasma conduits have failed and the plasma flux must be re-routed to the warp coils.' We all know there are no such things (at least at present), but also sense correctly this a literary prop to let us know there is an emergency. In Blindsight, I questioned many, if not most of these props, and felt they were not really relevant or necessary in this way.
What I felt as I read, reminded me of reading an essay by a professorial author who in describing his concepts, laces his text with arcane phrases in foreign languages simply to let you know he is a professor. As if the subtlety and clarity of his own understanding won't permit expressing these nuances in plain English. I know this is harsh, but when reading Blindsight, I felt sort of like I was constantly being pimped in this way, and for me, it really got in the way of the story. A good tale is a good tale, and really doesn't need this kind of embellishment.
If you take this book on, just be aware that you are in for quite a lot of this technobabble.
In fairness, I am going to read other books by Mr. Watts to see if the concepts are devoted the imaginative and complex situations he can obviously create, but without the other Baggage.
A WONDERFUL, utterly incredible work that left me both awed and horrified. Alien contact premise aside, Watts has presented completely logical, plausible arguments that prompt readers to entirely re-think the nature of consciousness and humanity's place in the universe. This book is a difficult read that will require revisiting, but is well worth the effort.
Not one for me. Might appeal more if you are a hardened Sci-Fi fan. I found this tough going.
Peter Watts writes a huge story that asks more questions than it answers
It's a book I read almost at one sitting and I will read again
in a few months time ,it's well worth it
Outstanding novel that deals with practical issues of consciousness and mind/brain theory in a compelling and original story. Absolutely unique characters that draw the reader in. Watts describes a rather bleak future where humanity endures an awkward technological adolescence where flesh/machine integration is far from perfect and has has profound societal implecations.
Will someone PLEASE upload the rest of his work here? He has made several more novels available on his website in HTML/PDF/MOBI format - surely someone could do a quick eReader convert/
Cerebus clearly didn't know what what going on because they weren't paying attention. Reasoning for vampires are given in-story, and the woman in question has FOUR personalities, not two.
If you like fiction that changes the way you look at the entire world, you will like this. If you enjoy the very idea of metacognition, you will love this book.
Watts should have taken the Hugo for this one. He imbues inherently unappealing characters with charm. The story has plenty of momentum to carry the metaphysical questions. His aliens are genuinely alien. Blindsight is the most original and absorbing book I've read in years.
This is not a book for everyone.
It is science fiction on a very sophisticated level, with an interesting combination of classical science fiction elements of the days of Clarke, and the flow (or rathernot) of Gibson's cyber-punk.
This book is highly complex, non-linear, and does not treat its audience as children.
You're going to need to put in some effort to finish it because it is fairly long. You can't read bits and pieces on the bus and expect to follow along. yet the experience is worth it.
Without giving too much away I will say only that the ending is classic and though provoking.
Possibly the most underappreciated work of fiction on this site.
And those of you who've read it - nag your local bookstore to order some print copies.
This book is poorly written I didn't know what was going on half the time. I had to go back and try to figure who was who. We for some reason have Vampires, and a lady with two personalities.
Strange characters with no explanation for being strange. Don't waste your time.
Rather interesting book, but the end is quite a bit disappointing.
No idea why the author had to drag (genetically re-engineered) vampires out of the science fiction writers dirt box - it's not as if they were a necessity for the story.
Ponderous and pretentious, and the story isn't worth the trouble.
Blindsight is amazing. Who is Peter Watts? I've never heard of the guy, never heard of Blindsight and yet it's one of the best SF's i've read in years. Read it!!
Excellent read. Peter Watts has meticulously researched cutting edge techniques across several disciplines, believably futurized and woven them into an amazingly readable hard science fiction novel. His ngaging characters hold true to their various core beliefs and individual natures. A mixture of amazement, amusement, horror and action. highly recommended.
I must give full points here. This is state-of-the-art science fiction even the late Mr Lem couldn't have written better. In fact, this story can easily go as sequel to Lem's Fiasco and other contact stories from Lem like Eden or The Invincible, with the difference that Watts has the technology right, and this story is in the solar system. Not that Lem's technology was wrong, but Watts' is modern, and he explains where he got his from. Even more interesting are Watts' references at the end of the book which filled my to-read list a lot. Thanks to the author for releasing with a Creative Commons licence!
OK the excerpt is dry as 3 day old turkey, but after reading a good chunk of this book it is actually pretty good.