I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
I've been waiting for this one for a while. This is a sequel to BlindsiI received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
I've been waiting for this one for a while. This is a sequel to Blindsight, and it probably is a good idea to read that book first, since some of the concepts (vampires) and plot points (first contact with alien life) are continuations of that work.
I'm pretty sure that this book will benefit from being read twice- once unspoiled, and once after the reader knows what happened and wants to see the progression unfold from the vantage point of that knowledge.
The word "echopraxia" really doesn't come up until the climactic scene of the book, and I'm still trying to figure out why it's the title. Maybe someone brighter than me can help?
The main character is Daniel Bruks, a parasitologist living in the desert away from a world gone mad with designer viruses that turn people into zombies that only perform brainstem type activities, post-human people who have left scientific paradigms behind as ultimately less useful than tuning into their intuition/faith (they're borne out on this too with amazing advances in tech) and a wife who's gone to Heaven, a data repository for consciousnesses. He quickly gets swept into a flight across the stars to find out what happened to Theseus, the ship from Blindsight. However, Bruks is brought along- why? Accidentally, out of pity, as a parasite, as a baseline human (roach)/survivor? Bruks can't figure out the answer to this question throughout the book, and the answer is ultimately vital.
The plot zips right along, but what really gets you are all the concepts being thrown at you while you scramble to keep up. This is not an easy book; it's about as hard a science fiction (in several meanings of the word hard) book as you'll find. Watts is a scientist, and he backs up his imagination with more than 30 citations at the end of his book. You can look it all up. I had some help with reading, because I've been following his blog and have seen a lot of the concepts upon which he's been ruminating while creating this work- it might help you too if you check it out.
I was continually surprised as Watts changed the situation on me and made me see what had been happening from an entirely different perspective. There's only one place that I think he might have cheated- and it has to do with re-entry to Earth and events that happened shortly afterwards- let me know if you agree.
There's maybe a little bit of talkiness in the book- Watts has lots of ideas that he's merging and he does have to tell you a bit about them, and I'm not sure there was a more graceful way to do it. In some ways, it's a relief to have an info-dump here or there- it slows things down and gave me a bit of reassurance that I really did understand what was going on.
Echopraxia reflects Watts's grim view of the present and future, and the end of the book does not disappoint in that regard, although Watts somehow manages to make the ending both horrendous and triumphant, hopeless and yet with some grace for our protagonist. How does he do that? What happens next?!?!? ...more