After the Firefall, all eyes are locked heavenward as a team of specialists aboard the self-piloted spaceship Theseus hurtles outbound to intercept an unknown intelligence.
©2006 Peter Watts; (P)2008 Recorded Books LLC
Other than his slightly-off pronunciation of a few words, I thought the narrator did a good job of portraying the moods and attitudes of the central character who had suffered a brain/mind altering surgerical procedure as a young child (to correct epilepsy). The surgery left him with a limited ablility to relate to or even to empathize with others. While these ablilities (as it is shown in the story) are not missing altogether, this limited ablility to "walk in another's shoes" makes him cold and unfeeling at times, but also bewildered at his lack of understanding of and connection to others. The whole story is seemingly set up to enhance that fact. Transitions and movement in the story from scene to scene was often hard to follow. In several instances I had difficulty making the leap with the author in the "action". I like a complicated and intricate plot, but this was something else that I find, even now, hard to put my finger on often asking myself: What just happened?
The story is very disjointed and painfully slow. I have read books where jumping back and forth from the characters memories to the present has created a tether, this creates a noose that makes the listener want to place their head in it.
There are holes in the "science" so large that you may need the Hubble to get a grasp of their boundaries. While there are elements that grab the imagination, the very tedious character development is painful to say the least. There was so much useless information that the author could have easily cut half of the book and it would be far more bearable. There are parts that are just glossed over that could be interesting, while others are examined in such minute detail that I almost turned the book off a number of times.
To be fair, this reminded me of Hemingway's Old Man and the Sea. There is just no redemption. If you are looking for something slow and artsy, this may just do it for you. If you found yourself liking the main character in Stephen R Donadlson's Thomas Covenant series, then you may indeed like this. If you wanted to slap Thomas Covenant because he was so self pitying, then this is not the listen for you.
I have been happy with all of my purchases except this one. I really wish I could get my money back for this book.
Loved it. If you are a sci fi fan, this is a must. Great use of philosophy, action, intrigue, second guessing, and plot development. Would certainly recommend.
This book is not your typical first contact book. It has some innovative ideas, but it suffers from stream of consciousness writing, and half the time you don't know what's happening. I think to really get it you'd need to read it twice. But I personally wouldnt take the time to do it. Perhaps it's not suited for an audio book because you'd have to rewind too many times to follow. There is some fascinating discussion of intelligence and consciousness and how they are linked. Many worthy passages but overall the writing is too scattered to deserve more than 3 stars. Great performance, though.
I thought about stopping this book often. Even now I wonder why I stuck with it. The author plays with the same tropes of an alien encounter books and pretties it up with some new tech terms. The hard science in the book is just slammed into, no build up and little to no flow. One character spouts out a perfect formed concept and then the story moves along to the next espousal that is supposed to be mind altering. It is rife with handholding explanations for these theories but leaves you to try and parse out what us happening with the plot.
I should have known better than to read a book I saw recommended on 4chan. Blindsight doesn't have even the vague pretense of hard SF. It feels like a Frankenstein plagiarism of Ray Kurzweil, John Scalzi, and Sam Harris, that was assembled by someone suffering a traumatic brain injury. Narrator starts okay, but eventually runs all is voices together. I supposed even he couldn't remain unaffected by this dross.
The head of the Earth mission is a vampire with a (magic) implant to automatically dose him with (magic) anti-euclidean drugs so he doesn't die whenever he sees a right angle. Vampires are a thing, you see. Brought back from extinction by magic because of reasons, the novel has vampires not even worthy of a Twilight joke. I cannot explain how awful this book is by any means more expedient and less spoiler-ridden than that. Space Captain Magic Vampires to the rescue.
Now that I've posted this review, I'll be refunding it. This was the most pretentious piece of trash I've ever read. It's too awful to only blame Peter Watts for writing it. His editor ought to be fired and his publisher chased from civilization by pitchfork wielding mobs.
Very interesting and thought provoking concepts are explored in this story. It's a future where people with mental disorders or brain defects are not only "fixed" but also enhanced beyond "baseline" humans, at some expense to their humanity. On top of that there is the existence and integration of a mythical bloodline, first contact, and an interesting solution for long-distance multi-year space travel.
The story is told as a first person narrative about a first contact with an entirely unfathomable entity. The character's purpose on the mission is to be the equivalent of an embedded reporter, but with the added responsibility of translating the actions of the enhanced humans on the mission into baseline understandable terms. Exactly what this means is hard to explain, because the reader is only human. :-) Although he is enhanced himself, his abilities permit him to straddle both sides of the situation... And this struggle of understanding his ability is one of the themes.
The narrator does a great job of evoking the character's tone. The narrating character's enhancement makes him emotionally stunted, so the narrator reads the story in a fairly monotone voice. In my opinion this really adds to the story and makes the character's behavior more understandable. It really makes him stand out as apart from normal humans.
Definitely one of my favorite stories.
I really enjoy this author and the questions he raises here about the nature and bare utility of consciousness. The details and world are convincing and interesting, and the characters are all very 3d. The fact that non-male and non-caucasian characters exist and have interesting things to say and do is refreshing as well. He delves into tech, philosophy, Linguistics, and cognitive science with what is obviously a lot of research and thought, and will likely give most readers something new to ponder.
Truly extraordinary sci-fi. A post-scarcity world in the late 21st century is confronted by an entirely alien life form. Oh, and there are vampires in the future too. Great.
Solid hard Science Fiction leaving the reader with much to ponder after the narrative ends. This is definitely the perfect audio book for that long haul drive.
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