Jamie Collins's Reviews > Starfish

Starfish by Peter Watts
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's review
Jul 22, 2010

it was ok
bookshelves: science-fiction
Read from August 03 to 05, 2010

So you've established a facility to harness geothermal power at the bottom of the ocean, in an incredibly scary, claustrophobic, dangerous environment, and you man it with the Right Stuff, yes? Like astronauts. You send down a group of smart, fit, psychologically stable people equipped to deal with the stress.

Or maybe not. In this book, management has apparently decided that instead of ruining perfectly good personnel, they'll send down a bunch of pre-damaged individuals instead. People already "preadapted" for stressful situations: the criminally violent, the perverted, and the emotionally traumatized. It's kind of an interesting idea, but I was never convinced that this set of people could refrain from killing each other, much less do a single meaningful day's work.

That's most of the problem I had with this novel: it's well-written, with a fascinating setting and some cool technology, but the author doesn't take the time to convince me of anything. He presents ideas rapid-fire. I didn't have time to become attached to any of the characters or to buy into the plot before it was over. This kind of storytelling doesn't appeal to me. There are sequels which undoubtedly flesh out this world a little more, but I'm not interested enough to read them.

If you're a fan of hard science fiction, and if you enjoy cool concept exploration more than character development, then you may like this book more than I did.

Huh. I've been reading other reviews, and some people think he spends too much time on characterization and not enough time on plot. I agree that the plot is thin (and by the way, any civilization that hands over the fate of humanity to an ill-tested A.I. deserves what it gets) but I found the time spent exploring the characters also very unsatisfying.

I enjoyed the author's 2006 novel Blindsight, which has many of the same elements and the same bleak style as Starfish, but for whatever reason Blindsight worked better for me.
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Reading Progress

08/04/2010 page 138
43.0% "Dunno if I'm going to like this. The cast of weird unlikeable characters worked for me in his novel Blindsight, but not so much here."
06/09/2016 marked as: read
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message 1: by Dima (new)

Dima Soltys > You send down a group of smart, fit, psychologically stable people equipped to deal with the stress.

The whole premise of the book is that "smart, fit, psychologically stable people" are not fit for such extreme environments and body modifications required for survival there. They go insane, irreparably so.

Ignore the premise and obviously, the story crumbles.

Jamie Collins I found the premise implausible, but I did accept it, and that's not what I disliked about the book.

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