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Blindsight
Peter Watts
Tor, 284 pages

Blindsight
Peter Watts
Peter Watts is an author, marine biologist, and computer-based game writer. He has spent much of his adult life trying to decide whether to be a writer or a scientist, ending up as a marginal hybrid of both. He has won a handful of awards in fields as diverse as marine mammal science, video documentary, and SF.

Peter Watts Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Behemoth: B-Max and Behemoth: Seppuku
SF Site Review: Starfish
SF Site Review: Maelstrom
SF Site Review: Starfish

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Alma A. Hromic

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Sixty five thousand alien objects burn up to ashes in Earth's atmosphere... and the world holds its breath. For two months, in which nothing happens. And then something, maybe, does -- a half-dead space probe overhears whispers out there in interstellar space, whispers that may or may not be connected with those 65,000 defunct UFOs, whispers that may or may not be aimed at Earth -- but may be aimed, far more frighteningly, at something else, something that might be en route to Earth, intentions unknown.

So Earth sends a clutch of "ambassadors" out to figure out what is going on -- a group which consists of a brilliant linguist with a multiple-personality brain sectioned off into separate multiple-personality entities; a synesthetic cyborg, half-human half-machine, with enhanced senses that stretch into wavelengths way beyond a normal human being's capabilities; a "pacifist warrior," in the hope that, in the event that it comes to a war, she'll know what to do (and be willing to do it); and a vampire to rule them all, a creature brought back from oblivion with the magic of recombinant genetics and with veins running with the blood of sociopaths.

These are what is sent by a frightened world to try and understand the mysteries of the unknowable, with the hopes that they might be able to comprehend and bear things that an average normal human being would buckle under.

Blindsight is a brilliant book, and it was inevitable that it would end up on the Hugo ballot. But it's also a book that it's tough to warm to; the "human" creatures are just as alien, if not more so, than the aliens they are sent out to hunt and find and understand, and it's hard to care about what happens to them, in the end. I supposed this is the trade-off that a really cutting-edge science fiction novel has to live with -- the shiny world-building is often achieved only at the expense of lovable (and I do use the word studiedly) characters.

As I said, it's a brilliant book. A potential award winner. It's something that I can appreciate... it just isn't a book that I can bring myself to say that I like. For hard-SF fans, though, it's just what the doctor ordered. I suspect it'll go far.

Copyright © 2007 Alma A. Hromic

Alma A. Hromic, addicted (in random order) to coffee, chocolate and books, has a constant and chronic problem of "too many books, not enough bookshelves." When not collecting more books and avidly reading them (with a cup of coffee at hand), she keeps busy writing her own. Her international success, The Secrets of Jin Shei, has been translated into ten languages worldwide, and its follow-up, Embers of Heaven, is coming out in 2006. She is also the author of the fantasy duology The Hidden Queen and Changer of Days, and is currently working on a new YA trilogy to be released in the winter of 2006.


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