Blindsight (Firefall 01) by Peter Watts

Lovely Melfka featured this one on her blog – thank you, I owe you a lot!

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

It’s been two months 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 to 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 to machinery 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.

My impressions:

I could wax lyrical about the erudition the author displays and I mean science and psychology on a very high level – really, truly impressive stuff. I could praise the action scenes and the fact that there were no infodumps in the narration even if the main lead, Siri Keeton, the  Synthesist, time and again was reminiscing about his childhood, love affair and many things in-between. I could wax eloquent over the set of original secondary characters, easy to like and interesting to follow around, or the world building, a bit nightmarish but still incredibly engaging. Instead let me be completely shallow and focus on…vampires. Or rather one vampire present in the novel, Jukka Sarasti – hovering in the background but having, so to speak, an enormous gravitational pull. I have rarely read about a more intriguing fantastic beast.

In this futuristic setting the vampires have been revived by scientists after they had become extinct in, roughly, Pleistocene. What for? Because their skills – incredibly quick thinking, the ability to imagine two realities at once and to predict the development of any situation in the believable way- were coveted by their prey. Us. Not to mention the fact that they can fall into a kind of coma and be resurrected without any major damage. Vampires are really super-predators. After seeing Jukka at work you might actually wonder how it was possible for them to become extinct. Too clever to survive? Somehow I doubt it. Still now the vamps are getting the second chance, helped by humans that have become cleverer but not overly so.

The title itself, Blindsight, refers to a malady in which blind people insist they can see, just recycling old images in their head. It is a big metaphor of the crew of Theseus – a bunch of ‘super-humans’ sent to make contact with an alien ship, Rorschach. They see but they don’t understand much, not even the Synthesist, allegedly the finest professional available. Is the vampire commanding them with the interest of humankind on mind or is he using them for his own purposes? You can’t trust a predator even if you are facing a common enemy, right? Anyway are smarter creatures necessarily wiser ones too?

Final verdict:

I am so impressed. One of the best sci-fi books I’ve read – ever. What is the difference between sentience and intelligence? Is it possible to have one without the other? Does one get in the way of the other? What happens when you cross either with biological imperatives of other species? If those questions sounds enticing to you, this is your book. I am going to read the second part asap.

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14 Responses to Blindsight (Firefall 01) by Peter Watts

  1. blodeuedd says:

    A vamp named Jukka..oh how sexy

  2. lol I bet for English speakers it does sound exotic.

  3. heidenkind says:

    Jukka like yucca? It seems like you liked this book. 😉

    • LOLOL yes, I liked that book very much and yes, the pronunciation is very much the same but in Finland Jukka is a popular equivalent of John, used mostly for children. Or so I’ve read.

  4. Carole Rae says:

    *claps* yay! I’m glad you liked it. Not for me though I do not think. 😉

  5. Melfka says:

    I recommend good books! (Except for when I don’t…)

  6. Pingback: Echopraxia (Firefall 02) by Peter Watts | portable pieces of thoughts

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