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Maelstrom (Rifters, #2)
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(Rifters #2)

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  3,294 ratings  ·  201 reviews
An enormous tidal wave on the west coast of North America has just killed thousands. Lenie Clarke, in a black wetsuit, walks out of the ocean onto a Pacific Northwest beach filled with the oppressed and drugged homeless of the Asian world who have gotten only this far in their attempt to reach America. Is she a monster, or a goddess? One thing is for sure: all hell is brea ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published November 18th 2002 by Tor Science Fiction (first published 2001)
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Average rating 3.83  · 
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Dec 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, z-to-a-watts
Edit 09.12.2019: I reread these days parts of it because it's time to finish the series and I think I'm up for Behemoth now. While reading it, I realized that, despite my anguish and horror I felt toward it, I did the book and Peter Watts injustice with my 2 stars rating. Now that I'm cooled off and had time to digest it, I could appreciated it much more than the first time. Therefore, I'm changing the rating to 4 stars. I'm keeping one for the dread it gave me.


This is one crazed, twisted
Aug 03, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: science-fiction
This was a disappointing followup to the very promising first part of the Rifters trilogy - Starfish. It was a strange mix of Neuromancer for its neo-cyberpunk/hacker elements, Outbreak for the viral contagion threatening mankind, Mad Max for the anarchy that ensues in much of the world's devasated coastlines, and a little Aeon Flux thrown in for Lennie Clarke's clad in black, bad-ass, nihilistic anti-heroine cybernetic self. Unfortunately, these tasty ingredients never settled into anything oth ...more
Sep 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018-shelf, sci-fi
Continuing with Rifters, we've jumped out of the water and taken our horribly damaged cyberpunk gene-modded abuse-victim/victimizer plague-carrying corpse-runner MERMAID with us.

Special mentions go to the gel packs that pack a horribly efficient computational punch, a 4-billion-year-old biological computer from the deepest Trench, and a death count of most of the world's population.

Woah, right?

Well, this IS Peter Watts and when he writes, he throws in ALL THE BEST SF GOODIES, making one hell o
In this second book of Watts' Rifters Series a couple of the fucked up people that were the heroes in Starfish leave the deep sea to come to the mainland. And they bring something with them that could mean the end of mankind.

Lenie Clarke, the mermaid of the apocalypse, is also pretty pissed, after her employer not only heavily fucked with her genes (and more), but also tried to kill her and her companions when things went wrong.

The primeval life-form that was introduced in the first book is ta
The book of Revelations written by a bad tempered unholy lovechild of Brunner, Triptree Jr., and Bester (and to continue this horrible metaphor, foster cared for by Gibson and Egan). These are truly the end times. At least for anything human. But, then most of the cast barely is, so they continue on. This is bleak stuff. Primeval microbes, climate refugees, malevolent dolphins, phosphorescent cancerous seals, quarantines with flamethrowers, invented personalities, internet nasties, and smart gel ...more
Oct 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Volition's subconscious; the command is halfway down the arm before the little man behind your eyes even decides to move. Executive summaries, after the fact, Desjardins thought. That's all we get. That's free will for you.

Maelstrom je drugi nastavak Rifters serijala koji opisuje što se desilo nakon bombastičnog kraja Starfisha . Radnja je prebačena na kopno, a Watts je glavni lik (Lenie Clarke) na još jedno zanimljivo putovanje.

Novi likovi detaljnije prikazuju funkcioniranje korporacija iznu
Chris Berko
Jan 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I was kind of ambivalent about starting this because of how polarized the other reviews are. Seems like a love it or hate it kind of thing. I fall in the love it category. Yes, it is different than the first book in that it is more story driven than a character study but damn hell I love where the story goes. Im not a rainbows and sunshine all the time type of person and I dont always need a happy ending so this book hit on all cylinders for me. The twists and revelations were surprising as well ...more
Lorina Stephens
Sep 12, 2011 rated it it was ok
Maelstrom by Peter Watts is the second book in the Rifters series, continuing the story of Lennie Clark, a deeply psychotic woman, part machine, who is the unwitting victim of psychological manipulation and a plague-carrier.

While the first book, Starfish, proved innovative and incisively written, that innovation and incisive writing failed in Maelstrom. There are pages and pages of technical exposition which slows the narrative, angst and violence which for the most part seems gratuitous and wi
Oct 05, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2019
The sequel to the first Rifters novel, Starfish. Difficult. Lenie Clarke comes to shore and with her the apocalypse, of a sort (two sorts, actually).

The first half of the book was confusing. Multiple viewpoints with different agendas, some of them of the artificial kind. I was pretty lost. Cyberpunk meets the apocalypse meets a revenge story and.... it was a mess. I skimmed some of the more indecipherable parts. I contemplated to DNF, but my curiosity kept me going. It was a case of „what the he
May 09, 2020 rated it it was ok
DNF at 54%. Life is too damn short. Starfish was an often-unpleasant read which nonetheless succeeded due to the originality of it premise and its focus on a few interesting scientific ideas. Maelstrom is just unpleasant. It reminds me of the shift from Watt's later Blindsight to Echopraxia, as a claustrophobic, highly focused first novel is followed by a more expansive, far messier sequel. There's a lot of science here, more focused on the CS and information science side of things (Achilles is ...more
Jul 16, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A worth successor to Starfish and (for me anyway) a great page-turner. I was a bit disappointed at first to see that Lenie would again be our protagonist, or whatever Watts thinks passes for a protagonist. I've enjoyed these two books of his that I've read so far because I appreciate an author not pushing me to automatically root for their version of the "good guy". I could complain that Watts pushes a little hard on the "see how complex this character is?" - having a traumatic back-story doesn' ...more
A. Redact
Jul 28, 2013 rated it liked it
I keep coming back to ideas in this book. Most recently, I was struck by the parallels between Watts's prediction of permanent refugee populations housed off the coast of the United States on constructed sand bars, and the emerging problem of refugees displaced by climate change. Watts's vision of the management of hopeless refugee populations (some displaced by anthropogenic weather patterns) by faceless bureaucracies feels disturbingly prescient.

In general, I think Watts has written one of th
Bill Purdy
Nov 30, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Hard, bleak sci-fi fans
Recommended to Bill by:
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
Maelstrom is the second book in Peter "Blindsight" Watts' Rifters trilogy.

Straight out of the door I took issue with it because I really thought that Starfish was good enough to be left where it was at the conclusion. The character arcs had progressed nicely, the plot had come to a satisfying conclusion and you were left with the feeling that things could be taken forward, but were better left up to you for how you think they'd go.

That said, he does make a very honourable stab at convincing you
Jan 07, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Reading should not be a chore, yet I'm starting to realize those brief interludes in my life in which I'm "too busy to read" just mean one thing: that I'm forcing myself to read something I'm not really into. I got through Starfish because Watt's deep sea descriptions were fascinating, but I don't think I'm going to force myself to read any more of Maelstrom than I already have. Nothing wrong with bleak dystopia, apocalypse, viruses, violence- only that for those things to matter to me, the auth ...more
Apr 24, 2011 rated it liked it
Took me awhile to finish this, but not because I didn't enjoy it. Same nostalgic experience as the first book in the series; this was fun for me to read. The emotional and bioscience plots were sharp and engaging and just plausible enough. The network/cyberpunk side of the plot felt a bit tacked on/hand-wavy to me, but not many authors can really pull that off fully anyway.

I liked it enough that I'm pretty sure I'm going to finish the series. I just kinda have to see how the world ends (or does
Ziggy Nixon
May 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: hard scifi fans (definitely cyberpunk)
Recommended to Ziggy by: freebie from the author
"You're like any other mammal, Doctor. Your sense of reality is anchored in the present. You'll naturally inflate the near term and sell the long term short, tomorrow's disaster will always feel less real than today's inconvenience."

OK, just needed to throw that in before I started reviewinating. Oh yeah: like I mentioned previously, this book was provided for free (the whole trilogy is available at no cost btw) by the author, so many thanks for that. The links on goodreads are dead but if you w
Jun 15, 2020 rated it liked it
I feel like this is going to be all over the board, though if I don't get it down now I am not going to be able to coalesce it into anything even remotely coherent.

First, I am uncomfortable with the level of cognitive dissonance displayed by Lenie. Her entire character is built around being an innocent victim, yet she feels nothing at perpetrating hurt on other people who while may not be innocent certainly are not ones who did anything to deserve her personal ire. Even when she learns the trut
Apr 18, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Finally finished this.. the low rating isn't so much a reflection of it's quality, but my inability to become engaged. I think I've learned that hard-cyberpunk is just not my genre. Which is too bad, because I really liked the concepts explored in the book, and I did really enjoy parts of it (the character heavy bits), but I have to be honest with myself that I won't be able to finish the series. (Although it's probably not going to keep me from Peter Watts, because I've heard such great things ...more
Jun 04, 2019 added it
Shelves: science-fiction
I just don't even. This book. Difficult to read (technically and emotionally), yet hard to put down. The revelations at the end are almost too much. It's horrific. And still, I want more.
Dec 04, 2019 rated it it was ok
This is the second time this has happened with Peter Watts. I loved Blindsight, I couldn't get nearly as much out of Echopraxia, its sequel. In the same way, I quite enjoyed Starfish but I was let down by the sequel.

It's not a bad book, per se, but the plot is muddled and much less satisfying. I spent a lot of the book trying to work out what was happening and what the overarching story was. What is the protagonist aiming to do? Why? And why should I care? I only intermittently had answers to th
May 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: my-books
The plot of the novel if far from simplicity. You'll find yourself in the same confusion as the heroes -- some will be wandering around, digging here, there, connecting dots, some will be pressing their line with no certainty in what they're doing... The tittle is really appropriate -- just like the Internet of the future, it's a maelstrom.
It'll take some courage and persistence to survive and outlive the book ;-)
I enjoyed "Starfish" better that this one and I'm still hesitant whether to read "B
Sep 30, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who read Starfish and wants more
For the first third or so of this book, it was everything I've come to expect from Watts's writing - terrifying plausible hard sci-fi that enthralls me to the point where I don't want to stop reading. The rest of the book still maintains this quality, for the most part, but it stalls a little beyond the halfway point and the direction it takes is a bit... unsatisfying. It's to be expected, given how different this is from Starfish (less character, more plot) and what was likely a fair bit of gro ...more
This book was disappointing, even though I'd been warned that it was a totally different animal than Starfish. Now, I like a good apocalypse. I really like a good apocalypse, especially one borne on the back of a virus. So I was looking forward to this book, despite it being a radical change from Starfish.

But... I was so blah on the characters. I dunno. We'd flip between POVs and I'd just..flip past. I quit when I realized I was skimming the pages around 40% of the way through. Maybe I should ha
Feb 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
This was definitely a lot messier than Starfish, but it was still really solid. Still prescient even though it was written well over a decade ago (coming up to 20 years) the technology and philosophy are hugely engaging. Don't read if you don't have a nihilistic bent. Could have been tidied up and have fewer characters, but overall very satisfying.
Sep 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi
A darker, more sinister follow-up to Starfish. Sequels are tricky, and this one succeeds hard, sci-fi and otherwise.
The second read just confirms my opinion of Watts being (one of) the best science fiction writers out there.
Isabel (kittiwake)
Jan 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sfbrp-read
I found Maelstrom even more exciting than the first book in the series, and (view spoiler). ...more
Sep 18, 2019 rated it did not like it
A completely lackluster sequel to a book that I rather enjoyed (Starfish). It's obvious that Watts is in love with this dystopian world that he's created, but I simply do not feel the same investment. This book was basically about nothing and while some concepts were thought provoking, the juice was not worth the squeeze. There is a third book in this series, and I have like 2% interest in reading it just for closure on how the trilogy ends. Hooray for cliff's notes.
Ed Dragon
Starfish was about undersea operation, conducted in dangerous depths with unspecified settings with vile dangers. What served as its own good in the first novel, this time makes places and characters regrettably obscure. Out of multiple plots lead by different characters, only that of Lenie Clarke was worth being followed.
Oct 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nice try at genetics and futurology

It's a very interesting exercise of futurology, imagining what will become of the internet, of our way of interacting with tech and what will the world look like.
Noting in common with the previous book of the series, though, apart from the names of rifters.
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