Blindsight Hardcover – 9 Oct 2006
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""Blindsight" is fearless: a magnificent, darkly gleaming jewel of a book that hurdles the contradictions inherent in biochemistry, consciousness, and human hearts without breaking stride. Imagine you are Siri Keeton. Imagine you are nothing at all. You don't have to; Peter Watts has done it for you." --Elizabeth Bear, author of "Hammered""""Peter Watts has taken the core myths of the First Contact story and shaken them to pieces. The result is a shocking and mesmerizing performance, a tour-de-force of provocative and often alarming ideas. It is a rare novel that has the potential to set science fiction on an entirely new course. "Blindsight" is such a book." -Karl Schroeder ""Blindsight" is a tour de force, redefining the First Contact story for good. Peter Watts' aliens are neither humans in funny make-up nor incomprehensible monoliths beyond human comprehension -- they're something new and infinitely more disturbing, forcing us to confront unpalatable possibilities about the nature of consciousness. It's good, and it'll make your skin crawl when you stop to think about it. Strongly recommended: this may be the best hard SF read of 2006." --Charles Stross""Blindsight" is excellent. It's state-of-the-art science fiction: smart, dark and it grabs you by the throat from page one. Like a C J Cherryh book it makes you feel the danger of the hostile environment (or lack of one) out there. And unlike many books it plays with some fascinating possibilities in human development (I like the idea of some disabilities becoming advantages here) and some disconcerting ideas about human consciousness (understanding what action preceding though actually means). What else can I say? Thanks for giving me the privilege of reading this." --Neal Asher "It seems clear that every second Peter Watts is not actually writing must be spent reading, out at the cutting edge of all the sciences and all the arts at once. Only that can't be so, because he obviously spends fully as much time thinking about everything he's read, before he sits down to turn it into story. His latest starts by proving that there are circumstances in which half a brain is better than one, or even a dozen-and then builds steadily in strangeness and wonder with every page. If Samuel R. Delany, Greg Egan and Vernor Vinge had collaborated to update Algis Budrys's classic "Rogue Moon "for the new millenium, they might have produced a novel as powerful and as uniquely beautiful as "Blindsight." Its narrator is one of the most unforgettable characters I have ever encountered in fiction." --"Spider Robinson," co-author of "Variable Star" by Robert A. Heinlein and Spider Robinson
About the Author
PETER WATTS lives in Toronto, Canada.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
Whenever I hear the appellation "hard-SF" I'm a bit concerned, because such works habitually require a Science degree or Ph. D. in order to understand what the concepts contained within the novel are all about. Neophytes never know if they'll "get it." Not so with Blindsight, though at times things are not that easy to follow.
The notes and refrences found at the end of the book show what sort of extensive research the writing of Blindsight required. Many claim that Peter Watts is on the cutting edge of science fiction. Be that as it may, although Blindsight is based on science and contains loads of scientific facts and jargon, the book also tackles enough philosophical issues to make it truly stand out from the other scifi works out there. As such, that makes Blindsight a demanding but utterly satisfying read.
The permise is traditional: First Contact with an alien race. Typical, you say? Not so, at least beyond that premise. Watts has many surprises up his sleeves, have no fear. The presence of vampires alone should pique your cusiosity.Read more ›
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.
This is very intelligent story-telling, filled with deep ideas and thought-provoking concepts. Don't expect a quick read - I found myself stopping reading to mull over the ideas several times, and when I'd finished immediately wanted to start again, to see if I could pick up more on the second reading.
The setting is a first contact story, but that's not really what this book is about (although as first contact stories go, it's a good one). It's really about how perception shapes reality, about consciousness, and what it really means to have a concept of "me" - is that ultimately a good thing for a species?
The characters are fully realised, the tension is palpable, and there's even a few moments of humour to lighten the mood. This is Peter Watts at his absolute best, and there's a sequel about to be published (Echopraxia) or you can buy both books together (at least here in the UK) as the omnibus volume Firefall.
I can't recommend this book highly enough. It's not an "easy" read, but we're grown ups - we can handle it!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
One of my very favourite works of fiction. This isn't just entertainment, it's a fascinating and extremely clever look into human psychology/neurology and a great work of... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Jakkar
I read a lot of science fiction and if this 'redefines the first contact story for good', as described on the front cover, then science fiction will be going in the wrong... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Red Pike
'Blindsight' is narrated in the first-person by Siri Keeton. Siri is a synthesist, an observer of patterns and human behaviour. The problem is, Siri isn't entirely human himself. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Steve D
A really good book, well written and imaginative. One of the best First Contact novels I have read. So why not 5 stars? He just had to bring in vampires, didn't he.Published 13 months ago by G
Bought this on a friend's recommandation. It's a "hard" SF story that takes place around 100 years into the future, with humanity's first contact event starting it with a... Read morePublished 16 months ago by Peter Bjørn Perlsø
An unusually clever and literate science fiction novel. 'Blindsight' combines a page-turning plot with memorable characters and cutting-edge neurological speculation. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Paul Bowes
A strange read, very difficult to engage with a yet i found it hard to give up, will maybe try the next one.Published 19 months ago by Mr Steven P Nesbitt