(28 Reviews)
Blindsight by Peter Watts









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(28 Reviews)
Who do you send to meet the alien when the alien doesn't want to meet?

Book Excerpt


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

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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.
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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.