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Blindsight (Firefall, #1)
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Monthly Read: Member Picks > Blindsight - Tad's Pick

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message 1: by mark, personal space invader (new) - rated it 4 stars

mark monday (majestic-plural) | 1275 comments Mod
Hello everyone! June continues our Reader's Picks and this time it is Tad's choice: Blindsight by Peter Watts.

The novel was published in 2006. It was nominated for a Hugo Award for Best Novel, a John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel, and a Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel. So far it has two sequels (a novella and a full-length novel).

It is available to be read for free! In fact you can read it right here on the Goodreads site by opening up its book page.

message 2: by mark, personal space invader (new) - rated it 4 stars

mark monday (majestic-plural) | 1275 comments Mod
I'm curious to see what people think about this one. I read it several years ago and found it to be really compelling. Its themes fascinated me as well as its very eccentric characters.

Because of an outlook that I found to be too nihilistic and a style I found to be distancing, it wasn't an easy book for me to love... but I thoroughly respected its ambitions and was impressed by its creativity.

Plus its vampire character was not remotely corny. Kudos!

Micah Sisk (micahrsisk) | 265 comments Coincidentally, I just finished reading this one last week. I'm of mixed minds about it (which is also coincidentally appropriate to the book, given the nature of at least one of the characters).

Right off the bat it must be said that this is Hard SF work. Ignore the fact that it has a vampire in it, it really is Hard SF. And the "hard" part comes not only in the science, which sounded well researched, but also in its prose.

One word springs to mind: dense. For one thing, it's not often I find myself having to look up words every other page, which isn't in itself a bad thing, but the writing style itself was distancing, almost to the point of obfuscation (but not quite), and it was sometimes ... alienating.

Which is a good segue into the book's best aspect: its representation of a first contact situation and the alien(s) contacted. This is one of the finest examples I've read of a truly alien alien. The alien(s) is(are) conceptually unique (AFFIK), enigmatically incomprehensible, and yet not lazily shied away from. Kudos to Watts for approaching this aspect head on and without fear.

Other good things--which really should have endeared me more to the book, given the focus of my own published work so far--were the book's Posthuman/Transhuman and Virtual Reality aspects. What caused them to fail was the firewall placed between me and those characters--placed there by the dark tone of the work, the mood of ennui (which was a bit odd considering the world-shattering events happening), and the text's inability to form an empathetic bond between me and its characters (another odd thing considering that one of the book's primary subjects is empathy). Its VR element, very reminiscent of Philip K. Dick’s Ubik, was also a very minor part of the story. Hey ho.

As for the vampire, I surprisingly did not mind its presence; it provided an interesting internal tension and was not really used as a horror or supernatural element. It also proved to be the one unifying element that linked the various self-absorbed characters to each other and to their humanity. However, I must say that upon finishing the book, I had no idea why vampires were written into it in the first place. I might have missed something, but I don't remember a justification for humanity resurrecting their species from extinction. The vampire character performed a useful role in the story ... but I can't see how it made sense within the book's world construction.

All that said, there are some incredibly interesting ideas bandied about in Blindsight. It may be hard to digest, it may be hard on the technology and terminology (brush up on your biology, psychology, physics, etc.), but I respect it for being an intelligent and thought provoking work.

message 4: by Kirsten (new) - added it

Kirsten  (kmcripn) This book looked interesting enough - though I'm a little afraid of the HARD label - that I used my Audible credit to purchase the audiobook.

Packi | 49 comments Micah, I think I can answer your question about the vampires. Humans use them to solve complex problems in science and mathematics. There are literally think tanks full of vampires performing tasks of great intellectual difficulty.

For some background on the vampire topic please watch the video on Watts' homepage: Vampires

message 6: by Micah (last edited Jun 05, 2016 01:56PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Micah Sisk (micahrsisk) | 265 comments Packi wrote: "Micah, I think I can answer your question about the vampires. Humans use them to solve complex problems in science and mathematics. There are literally think tanks full of vampires performing tasks..."

That didn't come through very clearly in this book. I know there's a second book, maybe that goes into it deeper. I vaguely remember a one or two sentence mention of the vampires having been brought back from extinction because it had become necessary ... but how would we know they would be able to solve complex problems if they had been extinct for thousands of years? The justification for it, at least in this book and in my memory, wasn't made strongly enough for it to make sense to me.

message 7: by Tad (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tad (tottman) | 54 comments I agree with the assessment that this book is dense. At least so far as it requires some concentration when reading it. I really liked the mix of characters, the explanation of the vampire species and the very "alienness" of the aliens.

I hope people are enjoying this one. I look forward to more discussion.

message 8: by Maggie, space cruisin' for a bruisin' (new) - rated it 4 stars

Maggie K | 1282 comments Mod
I only recently started reading this but I am finding it quite unique and interesting. Very Happy

Megan Baxter | 277 comments Mod
I'm late to the discussion, but I ultimately found Blindsight frustrating - it felt like one of those times that the author is purposefully keeping the readers away from his plot and characters for no good reason.

A lot of it seems to be a meditation on different kinds of inhumanity, but if so, I would have liked more than that.

message 10: by Latoya (last edited Sep 26, 2016 04:16PM) (new)

Latoya Did anyone read Echopraxia Peter Watts I just finished reading it and the appendices was more interesting than the story. :(

I loved the idea especially the evolution of humans, vamps searching for infinite understanding from "God" etc. However I didn't like the story, The idea was big and deep but that is where the line is drawn.

Did anyone like it more than me?

Packi | 49 comments I also didn’t like it nearly as much as Blindsight. In fact I think I DNF it.

message 12: by Latoya (new)

Latoya Packi wrote: "I also didn’t like it nearly as much as Blindsight. In fact I think I DNF it."

Oh wow so Blindsight wasn't as heavy as Echopraxia I take it. I should have read that one but I saw vampires, zombies and aliens and had to find out more.

Packi | 49 comments Blindsight is one of my all time favorites. It has the dark vibe of the movie Alien, and is super smart in many aspects, focusing on what is consciousness and first contact. The vampire part is tiny. I would encourage you to read it.

message 14: by E.J. (new) - rated it 4 stars

E.J. Randolph (canyonelf) | 151 comments I finally finished it. Seems the author spent the majority of his time developing imaginative and creative characters. I agree the vampire character is good. I loved that it shot up anti-euclidians. OMG that is too cool. Without going into detail, there were many other interesting characteristics and quirks. I believe the author has a sense of humor, but way involuted. I agree with other readers the story is dark. I could add that it is ho hum. Read it for the characters.

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