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
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.
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.
A different author.
First Contact is a genre I will always enjoy. But this isn't just one of the worst First Contact genres I've listened to, it's one of the worst books of ANY genre.
The narrrator's reading was just as flat and lifeless as the material he was reading. But I doubt any other narrator would have improved the listening experience by much.
If could play editor I'd cut almost every scene except the very few that actually had some semblance of plot or action.l But that would have made an 11 hour book closer to 1 hour.
This book had no romance, no sex, no humor, no sense of adventure, no joy, no drama, no intrigue, and almost no action. The lead character had no charisma. The writer had no style or skill. This was the kind of book that Mark Twain said made you wish all the characters would drown in the same boat and be done with it. Some books make you wish that each chapter is not the last. This book had me hoping that each chapter would be the last. The author is a poor writer with no ability to paint a scene or the characters in it. Its just page after page of dreary introspection on the nature of consciousness with less than a thimblefull of plot to move things along.
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.
A Sci Fi junkie who occasionally goes slumming to read other literature.
I put off reading this book for a while because of some reviews I read. I need to stop doing that. You can shoot holes in any novel, and Blindsight is no exception, but for me this is classic science fiction. Strip away some of the silly stuff (like a vampire commanding a crew), try to look past the fact that the main character is not very endearing, and you're left with an awesome description of indescribable aliens. Page after page is chock full of scientific concepts centered around a discussion of consciousness and its value. The characters were strange and interesting. I highly recommend this book for the hard and near-hard sf enthusiasts.
A complex work that needs to be read in print. Complex descriptions based on analytic geometric constructs requires long pauses to work out the 'vision'.. A great book but just not suited to audio.
too many to count
A brilliant, speculative, and very densely written work. I had to re-listen to the first several hours twice - but it was entirely worth it.
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