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Blindsight (Firefall, #1) (edition 2010)
by Peter Watts
Blindsight by Peter Watts
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Despite its great reviews, I just couldn't get into this book. Maybe it's due to the time of day that I've been reading it, 10 to 12 midnight. At that time of the day, I'm not my sharpest so the far-out concepts in Peter Watts' book are hard to make sense of. Also, it's not that good a read that I want to steal time from my day to read. With many books in my collection needing to be read, I don't feel like pushing through with something that I'm not enjoying, so today I gave up. ( )
This is basically the DSM in fiction form, plus vampires ... in spaaaace.
It has some interesting concepts but it's hard to follow which character is which or visualize the shape of the ship. The superintelligent but unconscious aliens have parallels to the artificial intelligences we're starting to develop, too.
A cracking, compelling story coupled with honestly challenging questions about the nature of consciousness and sentience, society and evolution... this is SF at its best.
This novel seems to me that it somewhat follows in the tradition of Solaris, it being interested in a group of scientists investigating an alien life-form beyond our comprehension that ultimately lose themselves. It's an interesting book with a big concept, asking "what is intelligence?" and positing that you might be able to have intelligence without self-awareness. This is followed in two ways: there are the aliens, but there's also our main character, who is hyper-aware of others but not so much himself.
I liked a lot of what was happening, and found myself frustrated by other parts of it. The interpersonal dynamics on the spaceship crew didn't always ring true; I feel like things the book asserted were true about the characters were not often demonstrated in practice. The concepts were interesting, but at a certain point—around the two-thirds mark—I started getting a bit lost, and I never really recovered my footing. The whole thing ended up feeling a bit... sterile? Which I think is partially by design, but still... It's the sort of book I appreciated more than I enjoyed, though it's also the sort of book I feel like I might get more out of on a reread. But when does one ever have the time to reread books!
This was a tough read, and although personal matters definitely interfered with my concentration, I think it would have been tough regardless. I don't read much hard sci-fi, and there were a lot of points (especially early on) where I wished the author were giving readers just a little bit more help putting the pieces together and offering connections. The read became more engaging as I got into the second part of the book and characters became a bit more familiar, to the point that I ended up reading the second half of the book basically in one sitting as the momentum picked up more and more.
This is one of those rare books I may try to read again someday, but I doubt I'll go on to the sequel. Some of Watts' writing is so fantastic that it alone is worth the ride here, and there were scenes/discussions/themes that truly drew me in, but on the whole, I'm left with more of a general feeling for the novel than a true understanding of what I just read, and reading the book was a bit more work than pleasure.
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Wikipedia in English (2)
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.
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)813 — Literature English (North America) American fiction
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An edition of this book was published by Recorded Books.