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Blindsight by Peter Watts
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Blindsight (edition 2008)

by Peter Watts

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,312785,929 (3.92)72
Member:patrickgarson
Title:Blindsight
Authors:Peter Watts
Info:Tor Books (2008), Edition: 1st, Paperback, 384 pages
Collections:ebook, Your library
Rating:***
Tags:scifi

Work details

Blindsight by Peter Watts (Author)

  1. 51
    Solaris by Stanisław Lem (deTerrence)
  2. 30
    Eifelheim by Michael Flynn (Waldheri)
    Waldheri: Similar because it also is full of philosophical and scientific concepts, and also has a first-contact theme.
  3. 11
    Foreigner by C. J. Cherryh (electronicmemory)
    electronicmemory: Two books that push the boundaries on our understanding of what constitutes alien cultures and intelligences.
  4. 00
    A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge (electronicmemory)
    electronicmemory: Excellent hard sci-fi which contains concepts which will challenge your mind.
  5. 00
    Starfish by Peter Watts (electronicmemory)
    electronicmemory: Classic bleak sci-fi.
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» See also 72 mentions

English (75)  Italian (1)  Finnish (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (78)
Showing 1-5 of 75 (next | show all)
This book suffered in my estimation because I read it in close proximity to Solaris, a book that is a vastly superior depiction of contact between humanity and an alien. That being said, Blindsight is a solid work of science fiction, and if I hadn't followed it up with what is perhaps the best depiction of otherness the genre has ever produced, I would have been impressed with how different and alien the aliens of Blindsight are. It only suffers slightly from too many ideas thrown in to one book syndrome, and only a few of the ways humans responded to the alien presence made no sense. In this genre, that puts you solidly above average.

In response to planet earth being photographed by aliens humanity responds by sending a warship. Why a warship? Who knows. Likewise it makes little sense why the people sent on this mission take the most aggressive course of action repeatedly against what they think is a technically superior species. I just chalk it up to that being what humans do in books like this.

In the crew that humanity sends no one is fully human. One has intentionally generated multiple personality disorder, one is a cyborg (am I remembering that right? It's been a few months), one has been augmented to control robots like they are part of her own body, and one is a hyper intelligent vampire. The narrator has the ability to analyze things objectively without feeling emotion due to childhood brain surgery. So like I said, there are a whole lot of ideas bouncing around here at the same time. It would have been nice to have at least one fully human character in the narrative to see how your average human would respond to the situations that occur, but Blindsight seemingly eschews the idea of science fiction as a way to explore the human condition in favor of cramming in lots of ideas about transhumanism.

There are some cool ideas here, like the one about how all the signals humanity sends out into the universe could be interpreted as an attack by aliens that think and behave differently from ourselves, but this book didn't feel like a complete work. Things happen, sometimes for good reasons and sometimes just because, and then it ends. Like I said, it's solid. Read Solaris, then read a bunch more Lem, then wait a couple of months, then if you still want more stories of alien contact then maybe give Blindsight a try. ( )
  BayardUS | Dec 10, 2014 |
Failed the 50 page rule. Not engaged by page 55.
  PokPok | Jul 27, 2014 |
The setup: Five humans pushed beyond the bleeding edge of neurological enhancement are sent in a hasty mission to investigate aliens beyond Pluto. A fascinating look at the concepts of sentience and self-awareness - are they really an asset to intelligence? Does your unconscious think better than *you* do? Sequel coming later in 2014.
  Clevermonkey | May 29, 2014 |
Wow! This is going to be a different kind of review for me. I can honestly say I'm not sure I understand what happened in this book, but I kept reading because I felt some underlying "thing" driving me to the end.

First, the problems:

I never felt grounded in Watts' world. Terms to describe the society were never explained. I guess he thought I was smarter than I am? This was almost as annoying as when authors explain everything as if I were stupid. Here is another example where there is a fine line marking how we gauge the intelligence of our readers. (I do read hard sci fi and enjoy it. The trick is giving me just enough info to follow the science--I don't feel like I got it here).
I could never picture any of the characters. Not physically anyway.
The main character and narrator had half of his brain removed as a child and it happened to be the side that processed emotions. Thus I never connected emotionally with the MC. Or anyone else for that matter.

So why did I keep reading to the end?

The plot was compelling enough that I just had to know what the heck was going on and I hoped there would eventually be some kind of explanation I could understand. Here, let's try this.

What I think might have happened in the book (possible spoilers, but I'm not sure):
Siri (MC) had seizures as a child, so his parents had half of his brain cut out and replaced with inlays to fix it. Society (this is on earth) had developed to a point where most people were full of wiring and electrical gadgets built in that the was normal.

To be useful, you specialized in specific inlays or upgrades. If you didn't want to be useful you just plugged your brain into Heaven to create your own realities while your body rotted in a vault. (I wish more of THIS had been discussed.)

Anyway, Siri was the synthesizer--meaning he gathered info through observation of "topography" or body language, compiled it and sent it back to whoever hired him. He doesn't even have to speak the language of those involved he is so good at this.

So, there is a threat and he's sent out into space with a small crew to do something. None of them really know what. They wake up from cryosleep and spend most of the book observing this thing. The ongoing question boils down to sentience versus intelligence. What is the norm of the universe?

People and aliens die. The vampire broods, spazzes out, is possessed by the ship (if he was ever his own person to begin with is debatable). Everyone is played. Heaven is unplugged by radicals. In the end, Siri goes crazy or becomes human again. The end.

Oh, and the title? Blindsight has something to do with your brain stem. Its the part of you that sees what the rest of your brain doesn't believe is possible. That shadowy movement you catch in the corner of your vision that disappears when you focus on it kind of thing. ( )
  CharityBradford | Apr 1, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 75 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Watts, PeterAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Pringle, ThomasCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Shimada, YoichiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Try to touch the past. Try to deal with the past. It's not real. It's just a dream.
- Ted Bundy
Dedication
For Lisa
If we're not in pain, we're not alive.
First words
It didn't start out here.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Haiku summary
Sentient contact?

Conscious thought avails you not

Scramblers are coming

(amweb)

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0765319640, Paperback)

The Hugo Award–nominated novel by “a hard science fiction writer through and through and one of the very best alive.” The Globe and Mail
 
Two months have past since a myriad of alien objects clenched about the Earth, screaming as they burned. The heavens have been silent since—until a derelict space probe hears whispers from a distant comet. Something talks out there: but not to us. Who should we send to meet the alien, when the alien doesn’t want to meet?
 
Send a linguist with multiple-personality disorder and a biologist so spliced with machinery that he can’t feel his own flesh. Send a pacifist warrior and a vampire recalled from the grave by the voodoo of paleogenetics. Send a man with half his mind gone since childhood. Send them to the edge of the solar system, praying you can trust such freaks and monsters with the fate of a world. You fear they may be more alien than the thing they’ve been sent to find—but you’d give anything for that to be true, if you knew what was waiting for them. . . .

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:34:57 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

It's been two months since a myriad of alien objects clenched around the Earth, screaming as they burned. The heavens have been silent since. That is until a derelict space probe hears whispers from a distant comet.

(summary from another edition)

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