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Blindsight (Firefall #1)

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3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  8,670 ratings  ·  920 reviews
It's been two months since a myriad of alien objects clenched about the Earth, screaming as they burned. The heavens have been silent since - until a derelict space probe hears whispers from a distant comet. Something talks out there: but not to us. Who to send to meet the alien, when the alien doesn't want to meet? Send a linguist with multiple-personality disorder, and a...more
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published October 3rd 2006 by Tor Books
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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mark monday
what is Consciousness? how did the silly human race evolve beyond the herd instinct, beyond our reptile brain? how, and why? what is the purpose of our individuality, what is the need for our sense of self, what use is Human Connection, why are we even equipped with Empathy? for some naive, kinda-sorta spiritual folks (like myself), these things may explain the existence of God. but that's rather besides the point of the question. does empathy help us in the long run, does the ability of humans...more
Terry
Wow. This was a tough one. It was a very good hard sf book that I don't think I'll be coming back to anytime soon. As others have said: "abandon all hope ye who enter here." A well written, excruciating exploration of the human "problem" where it turns out that it really is a problem. How do you take a book whose central premise seems to be that the development of self-awareness in human evolution was a wrong turn that wasn't meant to happen at all? That it was in fact contrary to the entire dev...more
Greg
Feb 23, 2010 Greg rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Greg by: Raja
You know you're in for trouble when the dedication of the book says:

"If we're not in pain, we're not alive."

One of the quotes before the novel starts is:

"you will die like a dog for no good reason"

And the quote that starts the first chapter is one by Ted Bundy!

But still, it's a sci-fi book about consciousness...how could I not love it?

-----------------------------------------

I've always loved Science Fiction, and not just because books about the future are inherently cool. The reason I've always...more
Jenne
Okay, I gave this book TWO second chances because I had heard great things about it, but I eventually gave up.

It's certainly a gutsy choice to have a person with no empathy as your main character, but it's pretty hard to get readers to care about someone who has only a vaguely intellectual interest in other people. Especially if the story is told in the first person by this character.
So as a result, we know that one guy is a vampire, and another guy has some kind of prosthetic senses, and there...more
Becky


Yeeeaahhh... I'm kinda not sure what I just read or how I should feel about this book. So, I'm going to revert to my usual fallback position of "random typing to see what words show up" and call it a review.

Look ma, no consciousness! O_o

So, one the one hand, I can see how certain types of readers would think this book is brilliant and love it. This is smart, hard sci-fi, dealing with matters of humanity (as most SF does) and asking some really interesting questions about what sentience is and w...more
Alex
I'm still having a hard time figuring out what I think about this book. I don't believe that it is well written, but I also don't believe that it is a bad book. Let's start with the first one. I've had a brief note up here for a while about this book that pretty much defines why I don't think it's well written. Take a look at this quote:

"There have always been those tasked with the rotation of informational topologies, but throughout most of history they had little to do with increasing its clar...more
Rob
Jan 23, 2013 Rob rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: self-styled xenobiologists
...I absolutely tore through this book. An utterly fascinating read; well-done in both its science and its style. Watts makes some clever choices in structuring his narrator (and consequently, the narrative) without it coming across as a gimmick or some other bit of contrivance. So we have this faithful guide working in our favor and a good entry point for the story.

And then he slowly unfurls idea after idea that link together into a shillelagh to bash your brain in. At one moment near the end,...more
David
Aug 07, 2014 David rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to David by: Gendou
Shelves: science-fiction
This is not an easy-reading book. It is complex, uses realistic technical jargon, and some rather esoteric psychological concepts. I enjoyed this book because of the wide range of interesting concepts that Peter Watts introduces in the story. The aspect of blindsight--the ability to sense one's environment without conscious awareness--is central to the story. Sometimes the human characters are subject to blindsight, but more importantly, the aliens they investigate act completely in blindsight....more
Simeon
Why do putatively brilliant scientists insist on explaining simple shit to one another? Their sole purpose appears to be strolling out at key intervals of the story and expounding on pop science.

"Oh hi, did you know that according to Game Theory the most efficient cooperative strategy is reciprocal altruism?" Game theory may not be common knowledge, but it's hardly arcane either. The UK actually has a TV show built around it.

Similar bleeding edge opinions on consciousness, neurology, and lingu...more
Guillermo Azuarte
"How it is that anything so remarkable as a state of conciousness comes about as a result of irritating nervous tissue, is just as unaccountable as the appearance of the Djin, when Aladdin rubbed his lamp." -Thomas Huxley

Blindsight is a very imperfect creation. It sputters and starts, it rears it's head, looks around, drops a poop on your lawn and asks you to just figure it out in your spare time please. I'm going to piggy back a little bit on some of the great reviews I just read (especially Ma...more
Ben
This is a great science fiction book. Smart and entertaining with a great cast of characters. In my mind, this book ranks up there with the classics like Rendezvous with Rama, The Mote in God's Eye, and Gateway. Watts is incredible and is on his way to being one of the new great science fiction authors.
Adam
Crank up some Xenakis and Penderecki and abandon hope all ye who enter here. A book as monolithic and labyrinthine as the alien artifact at the heart of it. A grim yet psychedelic book which probably earns Watts place as the new James W. Campbell. A dystopia and a first contact story bent into odd shapes like a bristling metal sculpture. Disturbingly, as hallucinatory as most sections of this book are, Watts seemed to have scientific rational for most of it. A stunning look at consciousness, ide...more
Wealhtheow
Really interesting, chock full of ideologies, debates, and fascinating new technologies. It's great scifi. The only problem is that I completely disagree with the main premise of the book, which turns out to be that sentience is in fact a *problem* rather than Our Specialness. It's a cool twist to the usual first contact with alien life scenario, but unfortunately it makes no sense to me. I just don't get it. Yeah, a consciousness means that you second guess decisions and are slower to make them...more
Oscar
Feb 04, 2013 Oscar rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans de la ciencia ficción hard
Póngase una buena cantidad de H.P. Lovecraft. A continuación, añádase un buen chorro de Alastair Reynolds, y una pizca de Greg Egan. Y como ingrediente secreto, un chorrito de H.R. Giger. Agítese bien y ya tenemos el resultado: 'Visión ciega', de Peter Watts. Sírvase con precaución, ya que este cocktail no es para cualquier paladar.

Esta es una novela de primer contacto, pero maneja ideas tan complejas y poco comunes, que la alejan de cualquier otra novela que haya tratado este tema anteriormente...more
Apatt
I posted a review on this one months ago but it seems to have fallen into a blackhole and I have no backup. This was a very difficult book for me due to the prose style. I just found it a little rambling, unclear and unfocussed. I kept losing track of where the current scene is taking place and which characters are present, not to mention what exactly was happening. In all fairness this probably my own failure and not the author's, his prose style just does not resonate with me.

That said this bo...more
Jesse
So I read a lot of science and speculative fiction. and a lot of it is crap, more or less. Peter Watts is obviously very smart (and has a Ph.D. to back it up - oooh, scary) but is only a marginally gifted storyteller. Blindsight raises a lot of interesting questions about our self-perception (as individuals and as a species), about xenophobia and about our penchant for projecting ourselves into every situation, but the characters all felt contrived and the story doesn't really unfold so much as...more
Kristjan
Jul 18, 2008 Kristjan rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Hard SF Fans
Recommended to Kristjan by: Ben Caldwell
I was really intrigued with this story. There was a lot of concepts that I enjoyed exploring, such as the idea of human consciousness being up loadable into a computer system (obviously separating our psychic nature from our biological machinery). This sets the stage for the author to present his ideas about the relationship between intelligence and consciousness (which I generally associate with defining individuality or ego) in a first contact story very similar to how Space Odyssey 2001 read...more
Chance Maree

Fantastic exploration of 'what if' centered on consciousness and alien life. Discussion of self-consciousness includes the often overlooked questions: What good is it? Is self-consciousness necessary for intelligence? And, on which side of the evolutionary intelligence curve does it truly fall? -- This, and more -- so many more discussion points have been planted in Blindsight, my head reeled.

Premise: After being probed, Earth identifies an alien threat and sends a contact team(s) to assess and...more
Sandi
Sep 06, 2009 Sandi rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Hard Sci-Fi Fans
Blindsight is one of those books that is strictly for fans of hard science fiction. It packs a lot of scientific ideas into a relatively short novel. Most of the time, I wasn't really sure what was going on. That may be because the narrator, a man with half a brain, didn't know what was going on. Ironically, AMC was showing the movie "Aliens" while I was reading this and there were a lot of similarities, especially in atmosphere. I think it's going to take a while for Blindsight to sink in.
Ben Babcock
I’ve had this book on my to-read list for several years now, and I feel like the me who added this book would have liked it more than the me who ended up reading it. One of the nice things about having Goodreads to help me track my reading, what I’ve read and what I want to read, is that sometimes I can remember why I’ve put something on my list. In this case I can’t, specifically, except maybe that I heard about Peter Watts or Blindsight somewhere, maybe io9, and it seemed like something I coul...more
Richard
Wow. Excellent review here (complete spoiler, though).

Blindsight is an excellent sci-fi novel on several fronts. We've got a meaty and complex apocalyptic aliens-arrive story; Watts somehow manages to make us care about his highly dysfunctional cast of post-human misfits, and then he comments both on the very deep philosophical issues of consciousness as well as indirectly on the problem of the Singularity.

Précis:
The moderately near future. Technology has fractured the nature of "humanity", leav
...more
Ric

Reading Peter Watts is like reading a synopsis of the latest issue of PopSci. description His range of hard SF topics is so broad, moving easily through biochemistry, astrophysics, paleogenetics, linguistics, whatnot, that you almost need the latest SF lexicon to keep up. The mindset is something like: "Eschew the simple direct statement, find the closest sci-tech reference, no matter how obscure, and let the reader deal with it." For an SF geek, that's just, like, heaven on earth.

Blindsight is brimming wi

...more
Palmyrah
This could have been a four-star book if it didn't feature one of those kickable, conflicted, self-pitying post-adolescent anti-heroes so commonly found in graphic 'novels', cyberpunk epics, heavy-metal song lyrics and other entertainments aimed at young males. I loathe the little creeps. Where have all the grown-up heroes gone?

Anyway: Blindsight is a first-contact story (I'm always a sucker for those) that offers a potent blend of non-stop action and some smart ideas from information theory, ne...more
Alan Baxter
The benchmark by which all first contact stories should be judged

I first read this book a while ago and recent conversations with a friend triggered me into reading it again. It blew me away the first time and it blew me away again on a second read. Honestly, I could read this book several times and get more from it on every go.

Peter Watts’ knowledge of biology is excellent – he has a doctorate in Marine Biology – but it doesn’t stop there. His knowledge and exploration of biology, anatomy, psyc...more
Terence
Jun 18, 2010 Terence rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Hard SF
Recommended to Terence by: Gray Rayburn
Shelves: sf-fantasy
The author who kept running through my head while reading this was Julian Jaynes, whose The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind I read in March of this year. The alien, Rorschach is the kind of unconscious intelligence Jaynes believes humans were until quite recently. And Watts' exploration of consciousness, unconsciousness, identity and motivation were interesting.

I'd recommend this to anyone interested in those ideas, and for a story about "first contact" and why we...more
David
The best sci-fi treatment of vampires I've seen, in a dense, head-spinning novel about first contact with very alien aliens... and even worse dangers. The crew of the space ship Theseus is indeed a bunch of freaks, each one with dark secrets and a ton of baggage. This is the sort of book that requires you to pay attention -- don't blink or you'll miss an important detail. Watts's writing was a pleasant surprise; not enough sci-fi writers put effort into their prose, sticking to the story and neg...more
Jim
I got halfway through this & never really got into it. I found something else that I wanted to read quickly for a group & just never felt like picking this back up. It was intricate, yet pointless. I really didn't care for the addition of a vampire into an SF scenario. It wasn't badly done, but never seemed worth it, either. Anyway, I'm now on the third or fourth book since I dropped this. No sense fooling myself, it's just not good enough to draw me back.

I'm giving it 2 stars simply bec...more
Jon
I struggled through two hundred pages of this hard science fiction novel. I finally just gave up. I couldn't relate or connect to the main character. The supporting characters were also two dimensional. Some of the science was intriguing, but the prose struck me as scientific shorthand, forcing my mind to connect dots for jargon unfamiliar to it. The lone vampire character seemed like a completely random wild card element.
Daniorte
Un libro difícil pero a la vez de los que te hacen reflexionar y plantearte cuestiones que yo al menos ni me había planteado. Es un libro agorafóbico, que transcurre en una nave y donde se relatan escena agobiantes con una ambientación muy tétrica.

Se nota bien documentado, ciencia ficción como tiene que ser sin demasiadas concesiones. Te despierta la curiosidad sobre los trepadores y sobre la cultura extraterrestre. Momento grandisimo el de la conversación entre el protagonista y el vampiro (Hay...more
George Kaplan
Por los caminos de Egan, para bien y para mal. Especulativamente un bombazo, una de esas pruebas irrefutables de que hay terrenos de la ficción sólo abordables desde este género. La magnificencia de las ideas contenidas en el libro, el tratamiento de la consciencia como un producto residual evolutivo y un error que debería ser desechado, no encuentran, sin embargo, paralelismo en la calidad del aparato literario. El punto de vista del narrador, anormal por su propia condición, obliga a una inter...more
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“Stars, everywhere. So many stars that I could not for the life me
understand how the sky could contain them all yet be so black.”
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“I brought her flowers one dusky Tuesday evening when the light was perfect. I pointed out the irony of that romantic old tradition— the severed genitalia of another species, offered as a precopulatory bribe—and then I recited my story just as we were about to fuck.

To this day, I still don't know what went wrong.”
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