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Blindsight [Hardcover]

Peter Watts
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Oct. 3 2006
Two months since the stars fell...

Two months since sixty-five thousand alien objects clenched around the Earth like a luminous fist, screaming to the heavens as the atmosphere burned them to ash. Two months since that moment of brief, bright surveillance by agents unknown.

Two months of silence, while a world holds its breath.

Now some half-derelict space probe, sparking fitfully past Neptune's orbit, hears a whisper from the edge of the solar system: a faint signal sweeping the cosmos like a lighthouse beam. Whatever's out there isn't talking to us. It's talking to some distant star, perhaps. Or perhaps to something closer, something en route.

So who do you send to force introductions on an intelligence with motives unknown, maybe unknowable? Who do you send to meet the alien when the alien doesn't want to meet?

You send a linguist with multiple personalities, her brain surgically partitioned into separate, sentient processing cores. You send a biologist so radically interfaced with machinery that he sees x-rays and tastes ultrasound, so compromised by grafts and splices he no longer feels his own flesh. You send a pacifist warrior in the faint hope she won't be needed, and the fainter one she'll do any good if she is. You send a monster to command them all, an extinct hominid predator once called vampire, recalled from the grave with the voodoo of recombinant genetics and the blood of sociopaths. And you send a synthesist--an informational topologist with half his mind gone--as an interface between here and there, a conduit through which the Dead Center might hope to understand the Bleeding Edge.

You send them all to the edge of interstellar space, praying you can trust such freaks and retrofits with the fate of a world. You fear they may be more alien than the thing they've been sent to find.

But you'd give anything for that to be true, if you only knew what was waiting for them...

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From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Canadian author Watts (Starfish) explores the nature of consciousness in this stimulating hard SF novel, which combines riveting action with a fascinating alien environment. In the late 21st century, when something alien is discovered beyond the edge of the solar system, the spaceship Theseus sets out to make contact. Led by an enigmatic AI and a genetically engineered vampire, the crew includes a biologist who's more machine than human, a linguist with surgically induced multiple personality disorder, a professional soldier who's a pacifist, and Siri Keeton, a man with only half a brain. Keeton is virtually incapable of empathy, but he has a savant's ability to model and predict the actions of others without understanding them. Once the Theseus arrives at the gigantic and hideously dangerous alien artifact (which has tellingly self-named itself Rorschach), the crew must deal with beings who speak English fluently but who may, paradoxically, not even be sentient, at least as we understand the term. Watts puts a terrifying and original spin on the familiar alien contact story. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Sf's best visionaries have played out the ever-popular theme of alien first contact in so many different ways that fresh variations are now in short supply. Yet Watts manages an entirely unique approach in this mind-bending novel. In 2082, with utopia waiting just down the electronic pipeline in a virtual domain called Heaven, Earth experiences the sudden shock of a baffling extraterrestrial visitation in the form of bright probes that surround the globe. Within days, the lights vanish, leaving only a faint signal of outbound communication near the Kuiper belt. Possessing few clues about the aliens' culture or intentions, scientists dispatch an unlikely exploration team that includes a linguist with multiple-personality syndrome, a cyborg biologist, and a spectral captain whose genetic code incorporates vampirism. Watts packs in enough tantalizing ideas for a score of novels while spinning new twists on every cutting-edge genre motif from virtual reality to extraterrestrial biology. Watts' fifth, finest, most-fascinating book. Carl Hays
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Major Innovation Dec 4 2006
This novel breaks new ground in the area of science fiction writing about "First Contact" between humans and an alien species. That is a very bold statement, given how many authors have written on this topic before. This one is different, and it is really good. The tale itself is gripping, the writing superb and edgy. The science woven into it is meticulously researched, and so close to what we already know that the reader immediately settles into the midst of the human team and experiences the story more than actually reading it. I know nothing about Hugos and Nebulas and so on, but I do know I have been reading science fiction for 45 years, and this may be the best thing I've read since Dune.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just buy it! Dec 10 2006
Summary: On the edge of the Solar System a very difficult first contact situation goes very, very bad.

Blindsight is not an easy or fast read since ideas and concepts are constantly being thrown at us and take time to absorb but it is well worth the effort. The end game is full of plot twists and surprises. My only complaint is the story is a little bit too lean - character development and background information on the other crew members was weak and I felt it difficult to relate to them. eg When a crew member is killed it just doesn't register or mean anything to me. And it should. Nonetheless this is a great example of diamond hard Science Fiction and one of the best books of the year. Buy it!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gorgeously dense science fiction Jan. 10 2007
I loved this book, Watts is brilliant. Blindsight is simultaneously a grand tour of ideas on human consciousness, a gripping, dark and twisted psychological mood piece, and a fast paced thriller. One of those great science fiction books that is densely packed with ideas the author throws at you a million miles a minute. Up there with sterling and doctorow. Plus, the author is making it freely available for download under a cc license.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best SciFi I`ve read in a long time Sept. 3 2012
I`ve been on a SciFi kick for about two years now, and this story buy far is the best I`ve read. Don`t get me wrong there is some good stories out there...and some very bad ones, but this book still pops into the head well over a month I finished it.
It can be haunting, hard to read at times (you`ll be flipping a few pages back time to time going WTF just happened) and at times just plain scary.
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