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By Doug D. Eigsti on 06-24-15
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.
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.
14 of 14 people found this review helpful
By James on 04-04-09
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
33 of 35 people found this review helpful