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Blind Lake Mass Market Paperback – Jul 11 2004

4.2 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; First Edition edition (July 11 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765341603
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765341600
  • Product Dimensions: 10.3 x 2.8 x 17.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 181 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #915,325 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Amazon

Robert Charles Wilson has made a career out of reinventing science fiction, mainly by taking the classic elements of the genre and updating them to the 21st century. Darwinia returned to the fantastic adventure writing of Jules Verne and Arthur Conan Doyle by transforming Europe into a new Lost World, while The Chronoliths used time travel to comment on the future direction of our civilization. Now, with Blind Lake, Wilson revisits perhaps the most classic of sci-fi subjects: first contact with aliens. Set in the Blind Lake research facility, the book follows a group of scientists who are using a form of quantum technology they don't understand to study aliens on a distant planet. The scientists are unable to communicate with the aliens, who are apparently unaware of the humans. There is little chance of the two species ever meeting, and an even smaller chance of the humans ever understanding the workings of the alien society. The situation becomes even more frustrating for the scientists when the facility is sealed off after a mysterious incident at a sister installation and the quantum technology begins to malfunction.

The book has a few flaws--the characters are sometimes little more than ciphers, and the plot occasionally stretches the believability factor--but these are minor points. This is a novel of ideas, and Wilson explores some very big ideas here as the study of the aliens becomes a thoughtful meditation on our own place in the universe. In the process, the book touches on a range of present-day issues, from the politics surrounding space exploration to new forms of spirituality. The book rejects closure throughout, instead embracing uncertainty and ambivalence. Wilson doesn't want to leave us with neat, simple answers to complicated questions; he wants us to question where we go from here. --Peter Darbyshire --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Wilson (The Chronoliths) grapples with the ineffable in a superior SF thriller notable for credible characters and a well-crafted plot. In the mid-21st century, revolutionary new technology allows scientists to watch life forms on planets circling other stars as if they were just a few feet away. At Blind Lake, one of two installations devoted to this purpose, Marguerite Hauser studies an enigmatic alien being who has been dubbed Subject, while also dealing with her ex-husband, Ray Scutter, a mid-level bureaucrat who constantly questions her fitness to have custody over their daughter, Tessa. Then Blind Lake mysteriously goes into lockdown the day after Chris Carmody, a journalist beset by self-doubt and a sordid past, arrives in hopes of finding a story that will restart his career. Automated trucks continue to deliver food, but all communication with the outside world is cut off. Military drones kill anyone attempting to break the quarantine. As the months pass, the installation's large population begins to come unglued. In particular, Ray, who disapproves of Marguerite's new relationship with Chris, starts to stalk his ex-wife. Tessa's possible contact with an alien even stranger than Subject adds to the suspense. Thoughtful and deliberately paced, this book will appeal to readers who prefer science fiction with substance.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
Given all that has been said about this book so far, I have little to add, except a different perspective.

To touch on what everyone else has said, I found the characters generally believable. But, as in most novels of big ideas, at times some of the characters became less than real. Ray was real enough to dislike. Chris was real enough to like. And, of course, Tess, the real focus of the story, as find out later, but should have realized sooner, was quite well developed.

In all the other reviews no one has mentioned Arthur Clarke or 2001. In some ways I see parallels between the monolith and the eye. In 2001 the pilot goes through the monolith for a kind of rebirth. Here people go through the starfish. We don't know where they go, but we can speculate they meet 'mirror girl' or one of her siblings and join some transcenedental existence.

And, ultimately, isn't that what the book is all about? How we are connected to the rest of the universe whether we know it or not?

All in all, a very satisfying and thought provoking read.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Having greatly enjoyed `Spin' and mostly enjoyed `The Chronoliths' there was a pretty good chance that Blind Lake would likewise appeal to me. RCW's comfortable, classically rooted character based style with a narrative progressing at a consistent & measured pace makes for a deeply satisfying read; it's not edge-of-your-seat action or multi-threaded operatic stuff but it is nevertheless engrossing and hard to put down.

Blind Lake is almost an existential exploration of the nature of perception; how do we know what things really look like when we're only presented with heavily processed images? In the case of Blind Lake, there are super-quantum computers, so complex that no-one really understands how they work, providing images of distant worlds by extrapolating data feeds from no longer functioning satellites. Sounds dull? Nope...Kierkegaard it most definitely isn't. Throw in a mysterious lockdown and a handful of splendidly developed characters and what you have is a very fine read. My only slight niggle is the miserly publishing; the book has very small margins so that I had to keep moving my hands and open the book wider than I'd prefer.

I think perhaps I'll dive into `A Bridge of Years' next...
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I accidently discovered this author while searching for one of my favourite authors, Robert Wilson. I was reluctant to read a so-called Science Fiction novel but was pleasantly suprised to learn that the science presented was plausable and keeping an open mind, believable. I first read Axis by the same author and was impressed enough to purchase another of his novels.
Blind Lake is a research establishment and seemed set up in the Oak Ridge Tennessee fashion of WW II era but had taken place in the future. Like Oak Ridge where the entire settlement was created to study and develop an atomic bomb, Blind Lake was established to spy on an alien culture using technology that was developed but not entirely understood even by the developers. The plot develops around three journalists who visit Blind Lake only to find it suddenly under lockdown. The uncertainty of the situation affords the author to develop stories and relationships which keep the reader eager to turn pages. Several plots develop and as they always do, unfold and reveal their interconnectedness by the end of the book. I was most impressed with the character development, again believable, likable and identifiable.
My only contention is that the facility lockdown took place throughout the entire novel and it was difficult to believe there was no contact from the outside world and all the while, the occupants took this in stride. And finally, a conclusion that was a satisfying ending to the novel. An easy flowing novel that I would recommend to anyone whose first interest is not necessarily science fiction.
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Format: Hardcover
Robert Charles Wilson has written some of the best mainstream sf of the past ten or fifteen years. His last book before this one had been The Chronoliths, a riveting dystopian novel that married personal and global tragedy, and I had high expectations for Blind Lake. Sadly, he failed to live up to those expectations; while his broad conception of the novel, an sf thriller that also examines imagination and story-telling, was sound, it's undermined by lackluster execution.
The biggest flaw lies with the characters, which are frequently ignored in the cause of Wilson's big ideas; like many sf novels, it sometimes feels as if the characters are just saying the things the author wants them to say, rather than the things they would naturally say. Their personal struggles, rather than being linked with the larger story as in The Chronoliths, feel arbitrary and distracting from the cosmological heart of the novel; moments that should resonate end up irritating instead.
The prose isn't exactly inspiring either. For a veteran sf writer, Wilson has a surprisingly clunky and graceless way of handling exposition, falling into that old trap of the infodump. This is true even at the climax of the novel, where Wilson suddenly decides to humanize the villain in a way that simply doesn't work; I can't imagine how it could have felt more tacked on. Some moments (Subject's story, for one) work like gangbusters, but most don't.
The big themes of the novel are also over-emphasized; the refrain, "It could end at any moment" is repeated ad nauseam, when Wilson could have gotten the same effect in a more graceful way. In fact, what the novel needs in general is a little grace and subtlety, allowing the big picture to emerge from the give and take of natural character interaction; sadly, what could have been a moving and involving tale is instead a routine sf thriller. It's exciting enough, but nothing like what Robert Charles Wilson is capable of.
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