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BLINDSIGHT Paperback – 25 Apr 2008


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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Tor; Reprint edition (25 April 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765319640
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765319647
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.7 x 20.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 20,907 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

"* "This stimulating hard science fiction novel." - Publishers Weekly."

About the Author

Peter Watts lives in Toronto, Canada.

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

56 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Jolley HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 5 April 2007
Format: Hardcover
If you like your science fiction hard, deep, and philosophically compelling, you're going to like Peter Watts. Self-awareness, consciousness, communication, ethics, intelligence, and the nature of life and reality are just some of the high-brow subjects Watts wraps into the plot of Blindsight. Eschewing the age-old question of what consciousness is, Watts probes deeper to try and get at what consciousness is actually good for. Obviously, this isn't light-weight science fiction, so I suspect the complete science fiction novice might have a little trouble getting into this book. Sure, there is some great action taking place in a deep-space environment, but Watts' philosophical questions are truly at the heart of this novel.

If you want to get Earth's attention, sending sixty-five thousand objects (dubbed "fireflies") careening into the planetary atmosphere is a pretty darn effective way to do it. All of the objects burn up in flight so no physical damage is done, but this shocking event serves as quite a wake-up call for a now-nervous human race. When, two months later, a distant space probe picks up whispers (in English) from the edge of the solar system, no time is wasted on trying to figure out who is out there and, perhaps more importantly, what its intentions are. An extraordinary crew is assembled to fly out there and investigate: a linguist with multiple, surgically-induced personalities allowing her to process information in four different ways, a biologist almost Borg-like with his machinery-enhanced senses, a pacifist warrior who may or may not be able to accomplish anything if the aliens prove hostile, a synthesist to serve as a conduit of information back to Earth, and a genetically reborn vampire to call the shots.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By mathrick on 13 Dec. 2010
Format: Paperback
It's a really demanding read. It takes no shortcuts and expects the reader to be versed in at least the mainstream trends in cognitive sciences, psychology and linguistics. Being well-read in at minimum the popular science version of physics and biology also seems necessary to be able to follow the plot. If you don't know off-hand what ATP, Chinese Room and Sapir-Whorf hypothesis are, you will have a hard time not getting lost even before the book gets to the real hard questions. It's quite possibly the hardest hard SF I've read in the past couple of years, and definitely not a leisure read.

However, if you're willing to invest the time and mental effort, it will reward you by positing some truly fundamental questions with no easy answers that will get you thinking. It takes some of our most basic beliefs we commonly hold about ourselves, life, sentience and intelligence, and mercilessly crashes them at a high speed with the results of countless scientific studies until nothing but shattered illusions and lies remain. I don't think I agree with what it's saying; I'm still not sure sure I actually understood what it's saying, and I have a strong suspicion we don't even have a language to discuss properly what the book is touching, but it damn well got me thinking about these things, and that's way more than 99% of SF out there can claim.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mr. W. Hardy VINE VOICE on 16 July 2008
Format: Paperback
This is a contact novel full of ideas. It's also a great story that completely drew me in within the first 50 pages or so. At that point I began to realise that this was a contact novel on more than the superficial level.

The first level is earth sending out a ship to investigate and contact the big alien (possibly) intelligence, which proves to be problematic as there's no real common frame of reference between mankind and 'alien'. Peter Watts draws upon his array of marine biology to create something that is believably different and difficult to comprehend. This might be a step beyond for those who expect their aliens to be essentially humans with some extra make-up or an odd shaped nose.

The other level is also about contact and is potentially the more interesting. It explores how mankind is evolving and would evolve aided by technology to the point at which we all become essentially autonomous, rejecting the notion of an intimate community. Influences of this are already evident as we incorporate the internet into our everyday lives to extend our boundaries beyond the immediate. This is something else Peter Watts does very well in demonstrating that we are unsure of the motives and motivations of our own race, and reduces our chance of understanding something truly alien to a series of observations and best-guess scenarios.

My only criticism is that the ending was a little rushed, which is why I didn't rate this at the full 5 stars.
If you enjoyed this then I'd also highly recommend Solaris by Stanislaw Lem for another excellent approach to the contact novel.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Tomasz Wegrzanowski on 16 Dec. 2008
Format: Hardcover
Blindsight is the best and most refreshing scifi I remember reading since 1970s' stuff. Not only you're going to get a new take on the first contact, completely devoid of the usual Roddenberry cliches, the way future society in post-scarcity economy is portrayed is absolutely brilliant. I love how current social and scientific trends have been taken and extrapolated to reach a very alien but coherent world without any particular element being implausible or cliched. Science has not been abused any more than necessary to create an interesting universe, and there's no applied phlebotinum to cover gaps in the plot.

It's not a light reading. Characters are hard to emphasize with - and that's the point as the main character completely lacks empathy. Plot takes some effort to follow as it's the first contact with something completely alien and the characters aren't quite sure themselves what to make of it either. The final chapter is chaotic, let's just say for plot reasons too not to spoil too much. All of it is part of what makes the book so great.

The book might be hard to read if you don't know some basics about evolution, sociobiology, how mind works etc. Nothing too advanced, but the author assumes readers to be scientifically clueful, and if you're not you might get exposed to too many concepts at once, so you might want to read some introductory text like Dawkins' The Blind Watchmaker first.
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