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Starfish (Rifters #1)

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  5,320 Ratings  ·  424 Reviews
Peter Watts's first novel explores the last mysterious place on earth--the floor of a deep sea rift. Channer Vent is a zone of freezing darkness that belongs to shellfish the size of boulders and crimson worms three meters long. It's the temporary home of the maintenance crew of a geothermal energy plant--a crew made up of the damaged and dysfunctional flotsam of an overpo ...more
ebook, 317 pages
Published 2000 (first published 1999)
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Rating details
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Feb 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who wanted to like Six Wakes but didn't
Recommended to Carol. by: Stephen
For the first half of the book, Starfish was shaping up to be one of my best sci-fi reads since Leviathan Wakes. Combining remote, hazardous deep sea environment with a larger mystery and character study was riveting, and if that at all sounds appealing, I suggest you try it. In the second half, Watts loses a bit of focus as he brings in larger issues of both physical change and a dystopian mystery.

"Beebe Station floats tethered above the seabed, a gunmetal-gray planet ringed by a belt of equato
Laura Dragon
Some "science-fiction" writers have an excellent understanding of science. The science and technology employed in their stories is gritty and realistic, even when the story itself is thin and uninteresting. Others write great story. Their science is flaky and their characters often one dimensional but their novels are jam-packed with high stakes, high action and high adventure from start to finish. Others still are strong on character. Their characters are fully-developed, well-rounded individua ...more
Dec 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, z-to-a-watts
"For there is something special about this tiny part of the Juan de Fuca Ridge, something unexplained.[…] "We don't know the secret of the Channer Vent. We don't know how it creates its strange and fascinating giants." The program's visual display goes dark. "We only know that here, on the shoulder of the Axial Volcano, we have finally tracked the monsters to their lair."

Monsters, human and abyss(m)al alike. This is Peter Watts’ world inhabitants. This is their story.

“Take a dozen children, any
Oct 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Velika međunarodna korporacija napravi postrojenje za izvlačenje geotermalne energije uz Juan de Fuca litosfernu ploču. Održavanje povjere grupi biološki modificiranih ljudi koji mogu podnijeti velike atmosferske, ali i psihološke pritiske. Psiholozi pretpostavljaju da su najbolji kandidati za taj posao žrtve zlostavljanja i psihopati.

Neki kritiziraju kako je neuvjerljivo da su korporacije tako odgovoran posao dali u ruke emocionalno nestabilnim osobama, umjesto obučenim stručnjacima*. Opisani p
Jamie Collins
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
11811 (Eleven)
Feb 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you want hard sci-fi with horror elements, you're probably looking for this guy. I preferred Blindsight but this book was still damn good.

I can't think of a single author to compare this one. It's unique ride.
Feb 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Peter Watts is writing the darkest and bleakest Science Fiction that I have come accross. His ability to render the alien world of the ocean floor is incredible and leaves you with this sickening, claustrophobic feel. As with Blindsight Watt's uses the outcast and mental nature of his characters to expound on his bleak vision of the future. Not recommended if you enjoy reading about sunshine and rainbows and flowers and pink unicorns basking in the delight of eternal love for the earth and human ...more

3.5 Stars

"Welcome to Beebe Station.

You're three kilometers below the surface of the Pacific Ocean.

You're perched on the shoulder of an active volcano. The local fauna is very large and very nasty. If it doesn't kill you, a mudslide or an erupting smoker probably will.

Your fellow employees are rapists, pedophiles, borderline psychotics, and victims of same.

You feel very lucky to be here.

This is a damn sight better than the life you left behind"

Starfish takes place in the year 2050 and centers
Jan 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites

Oh my god.

Oh my GOD!

I don't even know what to tell you about this book except it's gorgeous. I mean, it's really depressing and scary and gross and unhappy and never-ending levels of crazy but it's also gorgeously done. Just...perfect? Is that possible? I even liked the characters though they are pedophiles, wife beaters and victims of abuse. They're so human even as the author explores just how depraved we are.

Chris Berko
Dec 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the third Peter Watts book I have read and it is the first one that I have loved. I read Blindsight and Echopraxia years ago and liked them, they were good books. Starfish, his debut, was more up my alley. The story was vague enough to make me think, the characters were simply amazing, and I love books that get under my skin and leave me with a not too happy feeling. This was fast-paced, depressing stuff and I loved every word of it. Damaged people making difficult decisions while at the ...more
Aug 23, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have now concluded that Watts simply writes the kind of fiction that I like to read. I just wish he'd write MORE. It appears he does have two more on the way, one of which is a "sidequel" to Blindsight, so this makes me happy. I also, of course, have the rest of the Rifters series to read.

A very engaging read, this is an edgy story with some very real characters, with both the hard and soft sciences playing a major role. Starfish is set in the not too distant future, with the Earth being in a
Jul 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
You know what I like? A whole lot of sci in my fi. Watts delivers. Watts delivers in spades. Not in the William Gibson way of the totally strange far-thinking future, but in the near-future way, and in great ways. Starfish was full of inventive science, fun to read, and felt like something just around the corner.

Past that, it was quite dark. Maaaaybe occasionally it slipped into what I felt was being dark for dark's sake but most of it came across as logical within the bounds of the story he's s
Bleak, suffocating look at look at the alien world of our own sea floors, and a dark look at a future ruled by sociopaths and corporations (what a stretch). Power stations set on underwater rifts and then operated by sociopaths evolved to survive in those conditions is the basic setup. Atmospheric, confusing, swimming in pathos, and for the most part earning its comparisons to Campbell, Clarke, and Ballard (Two characters are even named Clarke and Ballard), this is an intriguing if difficult deb ...more
Jan 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: creep, coverlove, ha_pages
Interesting characters, original story, creepy premise, crazy science: always a big pro! =D
It was not super engaging, so a nice four star rating! Nice surprise, cause I wasn't expecting much from this one, glad to be wrong =)
Lorina Stephens
Mar 21, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When reading I find it difficult to overcome the editor, the cynic, the person sitting there blue pencil in hand ready to pounce on clumsy characterization and phraseology, implausible premise and plotting.

Happily, Peter Watts, author of Starfish, put that editor and cynic to sleep, so that for the first time in several novels I was drawn in and engaged. It is a dark, inner world into which Watts calls us, made chilling by his choice of a cool, third person point of view.

I found myself immersed,
After reading Blindsight and having my mind blown, I couldn't resist following up with another one of Peter Watts's books. Starfish, part of his Rifters trilogy, didn't disappoint. Gut twisting, brainy, steely, dark, psychologically profound. (I can't believe I just discovered this guy's work!)

If it's not somewhere in space then it's in the oceans, right? Starfish takes place in the opaque darkness of the ocean, near the Juan de Fuca Ridge to be precise, right off the Pacific Northwest ("N'AmPac
Oct 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
It's so gooood!

Sorry for the outburst. But reading this first novel from Peter Watts was like finding a plate of good, whole, sustaining food after a diet of chips and popcorn!

Science-fiction cannot be better than this. The science, action and inner feeling - or ethical dilemnas - of the characters meld together seamlessly.

We follow a cast of mavericks, biologically adapted to man a deepwater ridge power station. To withstand the isolation, the pressure, the Corporation chooses individuals wit
Mar 29, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: at-home
My favorite of Peter Watts's books so far, this is a story set mostly along a deep sea rift in a near-future overpopulated earth. The rift is the best and most powerful source of energy, but is at the bottom of the ocean, so people are altered to survive there and do all the maintenance and setting up to harness this energy for the world above. The people picked are of course amongst the most dysfunctional as they are best able to handly the stress of being in such a dangerous environment, havin ...more
This book was just weird. The main characters are all sociopaths, which give the whole book a downright depressing feel. You spend most of the story following said sociopaths around on the bottom of the ocean. All the potential excitement and action goes on in the background. I think I kept reading because I expected some of the excitement to leak into the forefront of the story, but it never really did. The last 20 pages or so finally saw some movement, but what do you expect when (view spoiler ...more
Aug 16, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book takes us under the sea instead of out into space, but the environment and creatures that inhabit it are just as alien and weirdly, disturbingly beautiful as any imagined space creature. And just as deadly. We get damaged people sent to a hostile place who slowly learn just how well they can fit. I enjoyed reading and sinking into the book. Towards the end, the focus changes and the stakes get higher. I actually found this part of the book less engrossing than what the rifters were doin ...more
Nov 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: llegits-2014
4'5 .
Genial novela de Watts, muy claustrofóbica, ubicada en el fondo del oceano en una estación geotérmica con humanos modificados para aguantar las adversas condiciones. Muy variada, llena de ideas,a pesar de lo limitado de la ubicación.
Mas aquí:
Corinna Bechko
So dark. So bleak. And yet so much surprisingly beautiful imagery for a story set in almost perpetual darkness. Reading this was an incredibly immersive experience, no pun intended.
Oct 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ninety ninety-nine: as I write this, Starfish is fast approaching twenty years since its publication. I could believe, though, barring a few details here and there, that it was published only a year or two ago. Most of the near-future issues that Watts' grapples with - augmented reality, self-training AI's, climate-change driven population displacement, wealth inequality, distrusted information networks, and automation-driven job loss - are either live concerns now or else at the very cusp of pl ...more
Kristy Harvey
Apr 11, 2018 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, ocean, dnf
I did not finish this book. There is one character that is a paedophile and I found it difficult as the text really got into his head. I just couldn't continue reading, so if this is a trigger for you I recommend you give it a skip.
A propulsive and idea-laden third act saves the first two acts, which, while engagingly written, are slow and repetitious. Watts' trademark crunchy prose is already in full effect, although he hasn't taken the ideas underpinning his story to the outrageous lengths of his later works (or of his apparent hero, Crichton). Unusual setting and topics for sf, and pulled off with aplomb, especially for a debut. It's a shame about the first two acts, and the kind-of cliffhanger ending. 3.5/5
Jun 27, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
First 200 pages were a slog. Made me more annoyed than anything that the last 80 were good
Nov 25, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A geothermal power facility on the bottom of the ocean floor isn't the most inviting place to work. Overwhelming pressure, constant danger, near-complete darkness, monsters of the deep, not to mention them having to cut into your body to let you survive the necessary excursions outside the station. Under such conditions, normal people might bend, or break, in unpredictable ways. So if you're a big corporation that just wants to get the job done, it might occur to you to send down people who were ...more
Ramsey Isler
Jul 12, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you like your sci-fi hard and your main characters psychologically disturbed, this is the book for you. Peter Watts takes a mission on the floor of the ocean and turns it into a crucible where some mad beings are formed. But, as Dickinson once said, much madness is divinest sense. The crazies aboard deep-sea station Beebe are smarter than their masters on the surface think they are, and they uncover a government plot with mistakes that would be comical if the circumstances weren't so dire.

Nov 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
So, in a radical departure, I read this baby exclusively on my phone. The author has been considerate enough to put the entire trilogy online for free and my phone has a thingy that lets me download books and the book was there so I said, that's me, all cutting edge and cyberpunky and whatnot.

Peter Watts. Not the most cheerful writer. Not your cuddly romantic heroic hard-edge but soft-hearted type of author, and this is not the most cheerful of books, and the whole trilogy's been a downer so far

Humans need to get more power, so they turn to deep-sea rifts. They need humans to keep the undersea stations running, so they send a bunch of people down who are "preadapted" to stressful conditions -- you know, your garden-variety pedophiles, rapists, murderers, and battered women. What could possibly go wrong?

I was very interested in the hard sci-fi aspects of the book. The "rifters" have surgical enhancements that allow them to breathe underwater and withstand the co
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“It’s really kind of… well, beautiful, in a way. Even the monsters, once you get to know ‘em. We’re all beautiful.” 15 likes
“She can still feel the memory of what it was to be fully human, and mistake that ghost for honest sensation.” 2 likes
More quotes…