Mjhancock's Reviews > Starfish

Starfish by Peter Watts
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U_50x66
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Jun 30, 12

bookshelves: bio-tech, canadian-lit, sci-fi
Read in June, 2012

In the near future, a corporation sets underwater energy stations in the world's biggest ocean trenches, and staffs them with people deliberately chosen for their social dysfunctions, as it's determined that the socially dysfunctional stand the best chance of surviving mentally under the living conditions. The first two thirds or three quarters of the book focus on the characters populating this underwater world, and it's the book's strength. The harsh environment, social deprivation, and corporate callousness reminds me of the movie Moon, and that's high praise, as far as I'm concerned. Watts really delves into the psychology of his characters, and what it means for them to live in this underwater environment. It's not a cure-all for their other problems, but it does grant them new perspectives. And I really liked the sinister corporation aspect, as it works well with some socioeconomic critiques I've been reading; if someone in our capitalist-driven system found a way to translate the socially maladjusted into use-value profit, wouldn't we do it? And that of course leads to more speculation on what it means to be "well" and useful to begin with. The big fault of the book is that there's a huge plot shift in the later portion, one that doesn't sit well with the established themes. I originally gave this book a lower rating before I found out it had sequels, just because it felt like such a jarring change from what came before. If Watts is continuing on this plot course, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. The ending doesn't really whet my appetite for more stuff taking place in this world, but I admire what Watts set up here.
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