By M. M. Buckner
Conceptually, Watermind is an interesting idea. A mixture of sophisticated computers, electronic garbage, and toxic sludge accidentally evolving into an alien artificial being. As a story the novel doesn't really go anywhere. We don't get much insight into the creature. The writing is focused on a cast of characters that we never really connect with - mostly CJ Reilly. The style reminds me of a Hollywood horror movie at times - so much so that at one point I expected CJ to get pregnant with some sort of hybrid spawn. No, the story didn't go there but my mind did perhaps because of the omnipresent foreboding tone of the story. By the end, despite the length of the book, I felt like I had read a short story rather than a novel. Still, I would say it is a worth the read if you pick it up at a bargain price.
This review does contain major plot points.
The prologue tells us that 144 micro-computers accidentally get washed into the a river, 119 of them end up in a mix of toxic waste and electronic garbage called Devil's Swamp. Somehow they form some kind of neural net.
The story is mostly told from the POV of CJ Reilly- a woman who is working on the clean up in the swamp. After the swamp ices over in the middle of the hot summer, she makes a miraculous discovery when she analysis a sample from the toxic sludge that turns out to be pure water. Water pure enough to drink.
We then meet Roman Sacony, CEO of Quimicron. A friend of CJ's late father, he becomes involved with containing the newly found entity after the death of one of the workers.
CJ is given the job of identifying the pond fluid which she quickly identifies as an emulsified colloid but further explanation of its strange properties elude her. They catalogue a cornucopia of electronic bits and pieces and verify that the colloid produces pure water but don't get much farther than that in their study of it. Eventually they dub it "watermind" of the book's title. CJ is determined to use it to revolutionize the world as method for generating clean water. The corporate interests are only interesting in keeping it from spreading.
The story gets bogged down at times in the strange language choices and the fact that nothing much actually happens. At one point the author writes "Her womb suffused with crampy heat." I have no idea what that was supposed mean.
CJ pushes to communicate with the watermind using music. We never see things from the creatures POV but it seems to respond. Meanwhile competing interests proceed with research on how to destroy the creature instead. Despite their best efforts to keep it contained the watermind escapes into the Mississippi.
As the story goes public, everyone starts to panic. Meanwhile the watermind starts growing and evolving as it travels down stream.
The panicky battle against this unknown `menace' reads almost like a Hollywood movie script, right down to the ending which is reminiscent of classic monster and alien science fiction movies.
Salt water of the ocean killed it in the end.