Blindsight

Narrated by: T. Ryder Smith
Length: 11 hrs and 47 mins
4 out of 5 stars (1,445 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Set in 2082, Peter Watts' Blindsight is fast-moving, hard SF that pulls readers into a futuristic world where a mind-bending alien encounter is about to unfold.

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
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Gothic Horror Hard Science Fiction

Peter Watts has crafted a novel that is quite unsettling. The protagonist never seems to be comfortable in his own skin, and since Watts manages to build a certain empathy for him, you the listener are kept off balance as well. I really enjoyed the advancing narrative interspersed with flashbacks exploring the main character’s psyche. I found this novel to be excellent but difficult to categorize.

Hard Science Fiction Space Opera? Certainly.
Vampire story? Of a fashion, but not in any way the typical fashion.
Character study? Certainly true of the protagonist.
First Contact Science Fiction? It has all the essential elements.
Happy ending? Sort of—but only if you think the movie A L I E N ended on a pleasant note.
Recommended? Yes ! .

When I heard “Audible hopes you enjoyed this program” I was left with that desirable, but all too rare, sensation that even though I just had a very enjoyable experience, there was so much more to discover. This book will require a repeat listen. It left me with the same feeling as some of the novels of Gene Wolfe—the book ends but, since there is no real closure, the story lives on in your head like a rogue subroutine awaiting a necessary command. Blindsight was recommended by Richard K. Morgan (author of Altered Carbon) as his, “If you only read one book this year,” endorsement. I can now understand. This will get my recommendation as well, even though I do not pretend to have more than a rudimentary understanding of it.

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The above was written after my first pass through Blindsight. I then went on to read Peter Watts’ follow-up novel Echopraxia. Then, after finishing Echopraxia, I listened to Blindshight a second time. One reason for this experiment at repeat listening is that I find so few well-written serious modern Hard Science Fiction novels; this being one, I wanted to experience it again. The impact of the horror element for me was much reduced the second time through. I was more focused on the use of scientific concepts and less emotionally involved. I was fascinated at Watts’ ingenious utilization of scientific concepts to advance his psychologically driven story. The story is now more comprehensible to me after a second listen, although, because of that greater understanding, I was more settled mentally and, therefore, less susceptible to the gothic horror elements that so impacted me during my first listen. This is a novel that will appeal to lovers of psychological thrillers and space opera fans alike. In fact, this is an exemplary SF novel that I will recommend to those who think that Science Fiction novels do not have anything to offer.

I had not listened to anything narrated by T. Ryder Smith before Blindsight and so was pleased to discover that he has a deft way of blending-in seamlessly with the text; giving each character a subtly distinct voice. He is not as dramatic as some of my favorites but is, in his own way, top notch.

36 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Compelling modern hard sci-fi

I really enjoyed this one...a lot...really refreshing

It's a dense, demanding work. Watts, a marine mammal biologist, requires that the reader keep up and isn't afraid to put out a term or concept without spoon-feeding. Given his background, he's covering the areas of intelligence, consciousness, language, etc from sort of a neuroscience perspective (which can have a bit of a different feel than some of the classic physics-driven hard SF)

As can happen with hard SF sometimes (Clarke is a good example) the plot itself can be more of a scaffolding for the exposition of speculative concepts...so I think plot-driven reading isn't the best way to approach the read (not that there isn't a plot, just if you focus on the plot, you miss the goods and can misunderstand the pacing..the pacing and "payoff" is in the concepts, not the plot)

After about - Oh 1,200 or so audiobooks I'll say this one really refreshed the medium for me (not so much in production style, which is fairly typical, but in the writing and the type of attention you have to give this work)

It's a different type of read - but well worth it and I enjoyed it greatly
Really some fresh air

48 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
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    2 out of 5 stars

Not my cup of tea

The story: it's somewhat interesting, but gets overly philosophical and needlessly complex. I love Sci-fi but this got weird.

The writing: the heavy use of metaphors smacks of a Neil Stephenson novel (which the author may take as a compliment) but makes the prose confusing, and ultimately annoying.

The narrator: he was fine, but nothing special. Also, he had several mistakes when pronouncing words, and sometimes pronounced words differently.

Summation: not worth the money or time.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

let's get ready to MUMMMMBLE!

My major issue with this book is the narration and engineering. The sound quality is aweful. The narrator has a softly pleasant voice, but no sense of performance. The result is a mumbling narration in a muffled recording.
The story if a narrator could vocally signal when the story changes character, flashback, and substory... it would be MUCH easier to follow. .. as it was, I found the number of bugs on my windshield far more interesting than this book. It's one of the few that I simply could not bear to finish.

PLEASE consider reperforming. I may buy it again, but.. it's a definite return.

17 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

I should have given up 30 minutes in.

This is a fascinating concept written by a thoughtful author. But, it's not actually a book. It's hours spent with characters it's impossible to care about, making decisions with no consequence. It's not awful, but there are so many better books in the world one could spend time with, I regret finishing this one.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Narrator makes it a teen drama.

So many narrators are ruining books by portraying adult characters as immature drama queens when there is no reason to do so. Are there no adult and/or mature characters at all in this book? This isn't Harry Potter.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

You'll just have to imagine you're Siri Keeton

I had read multiple reviews of this book that said it was dark, and it is but only in a nihilistic, deterministic way--it was not that depressing to me, but maybe it should have been. Either way, I could hardly resist the quirkiest character ensemble since the Wizard of Oz. The crew selected to make first contact consists of a biologist so interfaced with hardware that his wetware is now buggy, a linguist with surgically induced Multiple Personality Disorder, a military officer with too much empathy for her enemies, and a designated observer who comprehends more with his one remaining brain hemisphere than most do with both. The mission commander is a genetically resurrected vampire and the ship is captained by an AI.

They are off to see some truly alien aliens whose actions are less scary than their implications. The book is a study of consciousness, sentience, and the Chinese Room concept. This is definitely hard SF with lots of scientific concepts and terminology, but most of the time you can grasp the science from context when it is not explained outright. That was not a big deterrent for me and I actually learned a great deal.

The Peter Watts website also has some interesting end notes.

20 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

What an incredible, amazing story!

Just finished Blindsight and I'm amazed and exhausted. Books like this are rare indeed. Not that it's an easy tale ... no, no, no. The science can be complex, difficult. The characters sound like they would be nonsensical - for example, what's a vampire doing as part of a crew going out to meet aliens? But the tale, and the writing, are incrediblly engaging and so well done. This is a classic, up there with the very best of SciFi ... I consider myself a tough reviewer, but this one bowled me over. Go for it!

15 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Gave Up After a Few Hours of No Story

The prose isn't bad in some sections, and there is the occasional scene that is described vividly. However, there is no "point" to the story, at least as far as I could tell. It seems as though the author is describing scenes playing out in this fictional world as if it would be an interesting exercise to merely try and do so in as detailed and interesting a way as possible. Certainly, this can be part of a good book. However, the motivations of the characters and the story that is taking place within the well described world is practically nonexistent.

After a few hours I could not tell you the motivations of any character, why we should care about them, what the core problem of the story was that the author was driving at, or really any other important aspect of a well designed story. Maybe that's the point. Maybe this is supposed to be some exploration of a SciFi world with no real purpose, as if the author thinks such a book would prove interesting enough on its own. Well, I'm sorry to say, such post-modern, post-rational story telling does not work, and such a book ends up hollow and wasted as a result.

2 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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I wanted a good horror sci-fi to listen to....

Unfortunately, this is what I got. I got this book after stumbling onto a few Reddit threads saying that if you were looking for sci-fi horror, then read Blindsight. Good god, were they wrong. This book was terrible. The story itself was not interesting. It wasn't scary in the slightest. The only sense of dread I had was knowing I spent a credit on this. I'm not even sure how you could classify this as horror. The narrator has this crappy monotone voice through the whole thing; sometimes you can't even tell when a different character is speaking. He's almost as bad as Jefferson Mays from the Expanse series. Do yourself a favor and skip this trash heap.

2 people found this helpful