Now he tells a gripping tale of alien contact and human love in a mysterious but hopeful universe.
At Blind Lake, a large federal research installation in northern Minnesota, scientists are using a technology they barely understand to watch everyday life in a city of lobster-like aliens on a distant planet. They can't contact the aliens in any way or understand their language. All they can do is watch.
Then, without warning, a military cordon is imposed on the Blind Lake site. All communication with the outside world is cut off. Food and other vital supplies are delivered by remote control. No one knows why.The scientists, nevertheless, go on with their research. Among them are Nerissa Iverson and the man she recently divorced, Raymond Scutter. They continue to work together despite the difficult conditions and the bitterness between them. Ray believes their efforts are doomed; that culture is arbitrary, and the aliens will forever be an enigma. Nerissa believes there is a commonality of sentient thought, and that our failure to understand is our own ignorance, not a fact of nature. The behavior of the alien she has been tracking seems to be developing an elusive narrative logic - and she comes to feel that the alien is somehow, impossibly, aware of the project's observers.But her time is running out. Ray is turning hostile, stalking her. The military cordon is tightening. Understanding had better come soon....
©2004 Robert Charles Wilson; (P)2009 Audible, Inc.
"Thoughtful and deliberately paced, this book will appeal to readers who prefer science fiction with substance." (Publishers Weekly)
"Wilson builds suspense superlatively well, to a resolution that packs all the emotional wallop anyone could wish." (Booklist)
In Blind Lake, Robert Charles Wilson again brings us his unique brand of science fiction: a character story wrapped around a mystery with a meaty sci-fi center. Blind Lake is set in a top-secret government research facility in Minnesota. The facility is doing ground-breaking research into what appears to be a sentient alien species. The strange thing is that no one really understands how the alien images are being recovered by the facility's self-evolving quantum computers. And when the entire facility is quarantined with no warning or explanation, things really start to get weird.
While the characters are well done, most of the story taking place at Blind Lake is actually pretty boring as far as sci-fi goes: we spend a lot of time with Chris, the self-loathing journalist, a mildly autistic little girl, and her narcissistic and paranoid father. The interaction between these characters is standard fare for daytime drama. Frankly, I found some parts of it perfectly yawn-worthy. The only other complaint I have is that the phrase "It could end at any time," was repeated so often that I felt like I was playing a drinking game.
That said, the ideas underlying Blind Lake are incredible. Not since Sagan's Contact and Wilson's later novel Spin have I found myself truly awed by a story's concepts. In addition, this novel contains some of the most beautiful passages I have ever read regarding the human species and our desire to learn and evolve. Wilson breathes life into a seemingly dead universe. He is a true genius.
The narrator a deep, commanding voice that works perfectly for Chris and Ray, but he struggles a bit with female voices. This isn't uncommon with male narrators and Snyder performs admirably. His reading is, for the most part, quite good.
The set pieces in the middle where the author gives voice to Roy and Margaritte and allows them full throttle to frame thoughtful ( albeit somewhat obtuse ) thoughts on alien cultures, and the like.
Yes, and this one is excellent. Jay does a wonderful, understated job at bringing this book to life. I recommend his work always, esp. in this one.
Definitely. Couldn't stop listening.
I feel this is Wilson's best standalone work. A fascinating concept, that requires the reader to pay attention and think ( which is , admittedly, not what everyone wants to do with a BOT).
It's easy to relate to the characters, and the story leaves just enough to reader to add their own colour and body to make the story their own. I really enjoyed this work, and I honestly feel you will as well.
Steve (Walnut Creek, CA, USA)
I read Spin and Axis, and then A Bridge of Years.
Blind Lake isn't terrible, but it follows a similar formula - a big unknown happens which isn't understood by a population, people react, things slowly escalate, then a (in my opinion) somewhat under-satisfying conclusion is reached.
If you haven't read Spin yet, try it instead. I thought it was quite brilliant and I'm eagerly awaiting Vortex, the 3rd book of that series.
I liked Spin, this is a good idea too but failed to develop the idea or clarify how all this took place. With better descriptions and theme development details, this works. I would say okay if you like the idea but don't expect too much.
Wilson is a good writer, much better than a lot of the SciFi tripe out there. It's an interesting premise. And, the account of the debate on human narrative vs. dreaming that takes place somewhwere around Chapter 23 is insprired! It's not a bad story. (Snyder sounds like a good narrator, although his voice for the child really starts to grate after awhile.) I do have one pet peeve: what is up lately with authors layering up perfectly good stories with interminable and tiresome narratives about mothers and / or fathers endlessly obsessing about their oh-so-adorable and innocent young daughters? (For example, Matthew Reiley's "Contest") After a couple hours of this sappy filler, you just want to scream "Get on with the bloody story, why don't you!!" It's like they all want to see how many pages they can wring out of this ... and show just how parentally sensitive they are as authors.
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