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The Freeze-Frame Revolution

(Sunflower Cycle)

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  3,815 ratings  ·  371 reviews
2019 John W. Campbell Memorial Award Finalist

“This—THIS—is the cutting edge of science fiction.” —Richard K. Morgan, author of Altered Carbon

How do you stage a mutiny when you’re only awake one day in a million? How do you conspire when your tiny handful of potential allies changes with each job shift? How do you engage an enemy that never sleeps, that sees through your ey
Paperback, 190 pages
Published June 12th 2018 by Tachyon Publications
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Peter Watts Nah. Only one of the other stories is even set before FFR in the timeline, and it's the least substantial of the lot.
Peter Watts It should have. In fact, it should have special evocative illustrated title pages for each chapter.

Assuming a novella can even have chapters. Chaptere…more
It should have. In fact, it should have special evocative illustrated title pages for each chapter.

Assuming a novella can even have chapters. Chapterettes, maybe.(less)

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Average rating 3.98  · 
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Mar 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First of all, this novella is not meant to be read on its own. Could be regarded as a standalone, but you’ll feel like something is missing. And that’s because it’s part of a series of stories, entitled the Sunflower cycle, which includes three more short ones (so far).*

Publication order is: The Island (2009) - Winner of Hugo Award for Best Novelette in 2010 -, Hotshot (2014), Giants (2014) and The Freeze-Frame Revolution (June 2018).

Now, after reading all, my advice is they are to be read
Mar 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is some classy hard-hard SF. :) Black hole/worm hole drive using new and real theories? Hell yeah.

But beyond that, I love the whole idea of short periods of wakefulness during a single trip that takes 65 million years.

Add a rebellion against IBM... I mean HAL... I mean CHIMP, without expecting anything to go quite the way that 2001 went, or even remotely like it, and we've got a really fascinating story.

Watts knows how to build really fascinating locations and situations... maybe better th
May 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
9 out of 10 at:

For sixty-five million years, the crew of the starship Eriophora has been building gates to facilitate faster space travel for human expansion. The ship is ruled by Chimp, a “dumb” AI built with a lower synapse count to keep it at relatively human-level intelligence, and every few thousand or million or so years a build crew is selected and awakened from among its 30,000-plus population to assist in the logistics of gate construction. Sunda
I really wanted to like The Freeze-Frame Revolution more than I actually did, but in the end it was just too far into hard sci-fi territory for me.

The concept is clever -- a ship filled with 30 000 or so crew members is on a long-term mission to build wormhole bridges throughout the universe. And by long-term, I'm not kidding! We're talking 65 million years (so far!) here. Each crew member is kept in deep freeze most of the time, with brief few-day periods of being thawed to assist the ship's A
Evelina | AvalinahsBooks
GRAB IT! NOW! I just can't begin to tell you how much I loved this book. And I know for a fact I will be reading it again, and perhaps soon. There are just so many reasons why I could recommend it to you! It’s a book for the true scifi fan that manages to be refreshing and new, at the same time retaining all the benefits of being basically hard scifi. It also raises tough questions about natural versus artificial intelligence and their relationships. Which is the true, the real one? Is th ...more
Nikki "The Crazie Betty" V.
4.5 rounded up to 5 (Rating is for the entire Sunflower Cycle series so far)

I’ve held off reviewing this for some time now. Once I finished reading it, I just couldn’t fully wrap my head around what I had just read. In attempting to understand the story better, I went and looked at some other reviews of people who enjoyed the story to hopefully gather some details I may have missed. I’m so glad I did that because I found this great review by Claudia -, wh
The Captain
Jun 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Ahoy there me mateys! I received this sci-fi eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. So here be me honest musings . . .

This book was a bit of a stretch for me given that it is more hard sci-fi and physics is not me friend. At all. But I have always heard wonderful things about this author and the premise was too awesome not to give it a shot. And I be very glad I did.

So basically this story is told from the perspective of Sunday Ahzmundin. She is a human crew member aboard a ship n
Jun 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Three and half stars.

(apologies for my English)

Briefly: I love how Mr. Watts writes. I like his pessimism and his vital cynicism, and above all, I adore his perspective of life and intelligence. In this novel the author maintains the level of madness that has us accustomed but unfortunately I have not understood the end. Apparently I am not the only one, and for me this is a nonsense.

You can see the plot on the cover of the book, a really interesting approach, as well as its development through
Oleksandr Zholud
Feb 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
This hard SF novella is eligible for Hugo, Nebula and Locus Award in 2019. This is a part of Sunflower cycle but can be read as a standalone.

In order to spread the mankind across the galaxy, a special kind of ship was created: an asteroid 10 km in diameter with an artificial black hole and the energy and propulsion. This is not as crazy as it sounds, the idea was actually presented in this article by two physicists from 2009. This ship moves at relativistic speeds (10-20% of speed of light) acr
Chris Berko
Nov 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
There is a lot to like about this book and due to its length there were not any dull or slow spots. This was also one of the more straight forward and understandable books I've read by Mr. Watts and I didn't have to look up as much stuff while in the middle of reading. I did have some problems squaring some of the concepts and the timeline was too long for my brain to comprehend but it did not take away from the enjoyment of the story. Fast and fun but too short IMO.
Feb 01, 2019 rated it liked it
This book has a very intriguing premise, and it was a good read, but it didn't quite live up to all of it's potential. (I feel like i say that a lot, but I guess that's often how I feel about the books I give three stars).

The spaceship Eriophora, controlled by an AI called Chimp, has roamed the galaxy for 65 million years (!) building wormhole gates so travelers can get around. The ship also has 30 000 human workers aboard, sleeping away the time between builds (and only a few of them are awake
11811 (Eleven)
Mar 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Watts is the only hard sci-fi author I’ve found so far whose writing is so dark it’s practically black. I actually stumbled on him somehow somehow through the horror community. Reading Blindsight was like having a religious experience. Freeze-Frame was just as enjoyable and probably more accessible due to the novella-ish length. I imagine Peter Watts isn’t for everybody. For people with a simultaneous interest in sci-fi and horror (or dark fiction,) he’s worth a look. If there are any other auth ...more
I wanted to like this novella a lot more than I actually did.

Years ago when I first discovered Starfish, Watts’ writing felt like a revelation: Here was someone who could do hard science fiction right, who had done some hard digging into the scientific literature, thought a while, and come up with a well-reasoned “what if” near-future scenario. A tremendously bleak future, yes, but full of detail: it was never hard to imagine how that world arose from our present, what it would look like, what t
Shannon (It Starts At Midnight)
You can find the full review and all the fancy and/or randomness that accompanies it at It Starts at Midnight


I had been super curious about this book since I first read its synopsis on Netgalley. But then I was kind of afraid that it might be a bit too "science-y" for my brain to handle. I needn't have worried, though! I decided to go for it and request after reading Evelina's review because she basically abated my fears while making me even more excited for the book. What I'm saying is, if
Jul 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
My first time reading Peter Watts, and definitely won't be my last! Brilliant story, with lots of hard sci-fi goodness to sink your teeth into and blow your mind, and the storytelling equally as adept. Watts expertly crafts an atmosphere of suspense and intrigue aboard a gate seeding ship on a journey across the galaxy spanning millions of years, as the human crew clandestinely plots to overthrow the ship's AI . Brings to mind Poul Anderson's epic classic Tau Zero, and also Arthur C. Clarke's 20 ...more
I found this less challenging than my previous forays into the author's work and less thought-provoking: it's a great concept, wrapped in fairly hard SF trappings (Watts may call it handwavium, but frankly they're meaningless to me even when there's a laundry list of citations to back them up).

The result was okay, but ultimately had missing something for me - too much sense of a clockwork plot ticking out, rather than an organic revolution driven by people with feelings, maybe. It's telling that
Steven Shaviro
May 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This new novella by Peter Watts is part of a series of stories he has been writing, on and off, for some time now. The series seems to be called Sunflowers. The other stories to date (Hotshot, The Island, and Giants) are available for free download from the author's website: .
The basic idea is this: a group of human beings live and work on a spaceship that is circling the galaxy, at a substantial fraction of light speed, in order to create wormholes - so that future spaceships from Earth will be
Apr 04, 2020 rated it liked it
I have some difficulty reviewing this book, its premise is that all of humanity is an spaceship that is being driven by a super AI, this AI only wakes enough humans to fix what needs fixing and then puts them back to sleep for thousand of years when it doesn't need them. the cycle repeats but not always the same people are woken up. Where this book lost me was when it introduced too many characters that wanted to rebel but didn't know why. The plot could have been executed better I believe. I wo ...more
ashley c
Sep 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Hard scifi reminiscent of classics like A Space Odyssey. If you like books about AIs on a spaceship, this one's for you.

I love the concept of a ship of hundreds of crew only being awoken to work a few weeks or months every century or millennia to save on resources, and then having a few people who may not even been woken up together try to stage a mutiny for escape against an AI that's away every second of the way.

What I especially enjoyed is Sunday finding out about music club where each club
May 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'd have been 5 stars, but the ending was, to me, kinda unsatisfactory. I need this book to have more... erm... book in it.

Otherwise, the world is mindbendingly amazing. I was hooked by the idea of a ship on a journey to the end of time, building wormhole gates as it goes, even after so much time has passed nothing human can possibly still be around to use them. You know those books about the human race discovering ancient artifacts of untold power and unknown purpose from some long gone god-li
Feb 20, 2019 rated it liked it
This novella skips through the millennia with a gate-making ship powered by an AI, with a human crew along in case a situation arises that is too complex for the AI, known as the Chimp. We follow along with Sunday, one of the crew, as she is awakened, sometimes after being cryogenically frozen for a thousand years, in order to help with a personnel problem, to analyze a situation that requires outside-the-box thinking, etc. Sunday becomes aware that not all of the crew is as sanguine about their ...more
Luke Burrage
Full review on my podcast, SFBRP episode #370.

Also read the other short stories with the same characters in the same world, in this order:
The Freeze-Frame Revolution
The Island

The short stories are available to download/read on the author's website:
Jul 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2018
5 Stars

The Freeze-Frame Revolution by Peter Watts is a highly imaginative far futured space romp that is one enjoyable ride. The concepts covered here are top notch and not hard to follow at all. The sheer time frame covered makes this book a cool read.

Peter Watts is one of my favorite authors.

A great read.
Jul 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
I’m always amazed at Peter Watts’ ability to incorporate scientific fact with well written plot. Added attraction in this novella was a hidden message! There are also several short stories in this universe I’ll be tracking down.
Mar 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
A rebellion against the AI controlling the entirety of your spaceships and even of your living and breathing being. Oh, and you're only awake every few hundred or thousands of millennium and only for as long as your nemesis feel like chatting up with you. The blurb was so awesome I just had to buy it, my only regret was that since it is only a novella, I won't be able to indulge in all the convoluted details the author would surely invent if given more pages.

Actually I was a bit disappointed bec
Vagabond of Letters, DLitt

In a world where this receives awards, the Sad and Rabid Puppies are right and necessary.

A plot that doesn't live up to its promise with an ending that's a cop-out. The world is unrealized, and many threads are broached but only a few ever developed and even fewer closed. Nevertheless, this would have been a three-star story (or close enough, 2.5 rounded up) without the casual, unremarked-upon background transgenderism/gender-indeterminacy, complete with the fake pronouns. No, mankind didn't
Aug 10, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a good, engaging novel in typical Watts style. A griping plot with a claustrophobic feeling and interesting characters are built on a scientific base. I am highly intrigued what the author has in store for the rest of the story, as this is the beginning of a cycle.
Sad Sunday (If I say it's bad, it's bad)
Jul 16, 2018 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Probably nobody (or maybe very hard sci-fi fans)
Recommended to Sad by: Evelina | AvalinahsBooks
Really? Really? I am the only one who think this book is "meh"? Or Book Gnomes just put a different book into my hands?


Author often throws sentences how much time has passed. 50 million years, 7 hundred years, 3 billion years, but ummm, whatever. It was just telling, not showing. And since nothing changed at all with the passing years, I, as a reader, didn't feel the flow of time at all. And Holy Cow, all that billion of years is a long time, SOMETHING important must have happened - malfunctions
Anna Nesterovich
Jul 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, sci-fi
I was waiting for this book, but perhaps without the proper enthusiasm. So I didn't read any reviews, blurbs, opinions.... and was completely unaware of any secret messages in the book. And then I opened the book and found a red letter on the very first page. And then another, on the second page. So over the next few minutes, perplexed librarians watched me going through the book with a pen and a piece of paper; then googling "mitochondrial introns just downstream from COX-five" (and coming up e ...more
I received an ARC through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

“I’ll kill you if I can.”
“I’ll save you, if you let me.”

My rating: 4 stars

Let me start with this: if you love science fiction that really goes into the science aspect and has long descriptions about objects and happenings in space, and also you love stories about artificial intelligence, this story is for you. Personally, I found myself scrolling through a lot of the heavy science because it really wasn’t working for me, but I
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Play Book Tag: The Freeze-Frame Revolution by Peter Watts - 4 stars 1 15 Sep 21, 2018 02:08PM  

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Other books in the series

Sunflower Cycle (7 books)
  • The Island
  • Beyond the Rift
  • Hotshot
  • Reach for Infinity
  • Extreme Planets: A Science Fiction Anthology of Alien Worlds
  • Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 96 (Clarkesworld Magazine, #96)

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