Book Review: Blindsight

(I told y’all I’d start reviewing the mind-twisting books again soon…)

Blindsight is an utterly compelling – and utterly mind-frakking – science fiction novel. It is many things: Vampires and posthumans in space. A first contact novel. A reflection on the nature of self and humanity. An adventure story. It is all of these things, and then some.

It is not stereotypical “hard” sf; the characters are distinct and well-rounded. Sarasti (the previously mentioned vampire) is grounded in plausible biology, and the posthumans who make up the crew are at once strange and familiar.

Peter Watts commented on his blog that science fiction – at least, text-based – can’t just be about grand vistas and impressive sights. CG technology has gotten to the point where we don’t have to imagine those sorts of things – we can see them. What movies and television cannot do is show us strange and unusual ideas. Blindsight fulfills magnificently on that promise.

Which makes it hard to review, really. This book is idea-dense (though it’s still a comfortable read), so summarizations ultimately fall flat. So let’s try this comparison instead…

Blindsight is great for: stretching your brain, imagining first contact, seeing plausible vampires, wondering about the nature of humanity. Imagine Arthur C. Clarke channeling Phillip K. Dick and you get the idea.

Blindsight is NOT great for: happy-go-lucky escapist time. Go watch some Power Rangers instead.

Blindsight is also available for free as a Creative-Commons download on Peter Watts’ site, so give a chapter or two a read to see what you think. You can read more about the book at the book’s website.

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