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Blindsight, by Peter Watts Book Review | SFReader.com
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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