A swarm of Fireflies lighted alien objects in the sky now orbits Earth, speaking among themselves and ignoring human attempts at communication. In desperation, a group consisting of a linguist with multiple personality disorder, a biologist more machine than man, a paleogenetic vampire, and a pacifist is sent to confront this unfathomable alien presence. Watts (aehemoth) continues to challenge readers with his imaginative plots and superb storytelling. A good choice for most sf collections. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Alien-contact tale in which humans are at least as weird as the aliens. Eighty years from now, denizens of Earth become aware of an alien presence when the sky fills with bursts of light from dying Fireflies, tiny machines that signal to a supergiant planet far beyond the edge of the solar system. With orders to investigate, the vessel Theseus carries an artificial intelligence as its captain, along with expedition leader Jukka Sarasti, a brooding, sociopathic and downright scary vampire; Isaac Szpindel, a biologist so mechanized he can barely feel his own skin; the Gang of Four, a schizophrenic linguist; curiously passive warrior Major Amanda Bates; and observer-narrator Siri Keeton, a synthesist with half a brain (the remainder destroyed by a virus) enhanced by add-ons and advanced algorithms. They meet a huge alien vessel that calls itself Rorschach and talks eagerly but says nothing of consequence. Indeed, the Gang of Four suspects that the alien voice isn't truly sentient at all. As Keeton begins to hallucinate, Sarasti orders a team to break into the alien vessel despite its lethal radiation levels. Still unable to decide whether the aliens are hostile, Sarasti devises a plan to capture one of the creatures that apparently thrive within Rorschach's peculiar environment. They succeed in grabbing two specimens. These scramblers, dubbed Stretch and Clench, resemble huge, bony, multi-limbed starfish. They have no brains but show evidence of massive information-processing capability, which brings Theseus' crew to the crucial question: Can intelligence exist without self-awareness?Watts (aehemoth: Seppuku, 2005, etc.) carries several complications too many, but presents nonetheless asearching, disconcerting, challenging, sometimes piercing inquisition.
“Watts explores the nature of consciousness in this stimulating hard SF novel, which combines riveting action with a fascinating alien environment. Watts puts a terrifying and original spin on the familiar alien contact story. ” Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"A brilliant piece of work, one that will delight fans of hard science fiction, but will also demonstrate to literary fans that contemporary science fiction is dynamic and fascinating literature that demands to be read.” The Edmonton Journal
“Astonishingly readable book. . . . [Watts is] one of the two or three best hard SF writers around, and this is his finest book to date.” Interzone
"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