SELECT * FROM uv_BookReviewRollup WHERE recordnum = 1025 Blindsight, by Peter Watts Book Review |

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Blindsight, by Peter Watts
Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: Tor
Published: 2006
Review Posted: 3/9/2007
Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: 9 out of 10

Blindsight, by Peter Watts

Book Review by Steven Sawicki

Have you read this book?

Sixty five thousand alien objects approach Earth, burning up in the atmosphere as they transmit into space. Two months later communication is picked up by a distant, forgotten probe but no one can be sure the two events are related or even the work of intelligence. Still, this is exactly the kind of thing you can't ignore so a ship is sent. But, who do you send with the ship? Military? Scientists? Some combination of the two? How about a linguist, a military pacifist, a vampire, a biologist and a synthesist? And not just any of these but those who are enhanced to extreme ends so that the linguist is an intentionally created multiple personality, the biologist interfaces with machinery, the vampire is a resurrected beast from long ago and the synthesist, whose role is to make sense of everything, has had half his brain removed. And this is the understandable part of the mission because the alien they approach, assuming there's an alien waiting, may be totally incomprehensible in its own right.

So, imagine the surprise when the crew find themselves intentionally taken off course and approaching a spaceship which is communicating warnings to them in English. And what does the crew do when this is about the only type of communicating the aliens want to do?

Watts explores all of this and plenty more in a book that seems more involved in creating mysteries than in solving them. There is a realistic feel to the situation as the protagonists struggle with too little information and too little time and suffer the consequences of both. Watts writing is tight and measured, exploring concepts through either the alien presence or through the alieness of the crew. Watts sets up a number of dichotomies in the novel; war versus peace, human versus alien, dispassionate observer versus active participant, ancient human versus future human, action versus inaction, reality versus perceived reality, and plays them out, often at the same time. This creates a deeper layer to the novel than is present through just the narrative storyline and develops themes that resonate against each other.

This is a well written book that I thoroughly enjoyed.
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