Peter Watts, Blindsight Reviews

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“Blindsight ”


written by Harriet Klausner on 27/09/2006

Peter Watts
Tor, October 2006,
ISBN: 0765312182

As the twenty-first century nears its ending, Fireflies light up the sky. Scientists realize this strange phenomenon is sending signals back to something just outside the edge of our solar system. To learn more and to make first contact, the earth sends the spaceship Theseus captained by an AI, but the leader of the quest is genetically engineered vampire Jukka Sarasti. The chosen motley crew consists of biologist Isaac Szpindel, who has more machine parts than human parts, and acts accordingly more machine than human, the Gang of Four, a multiple personality disorder linguist disorder; Major Amanda Bates, a soldier who hates war; and Siri Keeton, whose half of a brain enables him to predict one hundred per cent accurately almost instantly what others will do in different situations, though he has no idea why people do what they do.

The team makes it to the rim of the solar system where they are met by an English speaking species on board some sort of odd vessel dubbed Rorschach. They cannot determine whether the newcomers are hostile, so team leader Sarasti arranges to abduct two of them to study them close-up, but neither has a brain, yet are capable of processing information leading to the earth crew to debate whether these are living intelligence, as they fail to even recognize the basic I think therefore I am.

This is a deep science fiction thriller that uses first contact to turn Descartes statement upside down into a question of what is intelligent life. The cast is solid, especially the two abducted aliens Stretch and Clench, who will lead readers to ponder existence just like the earth characters do. The storyline contains much more complexities than described above, so the audience who prefer ET to go home may want to pass on BLINDSIGHT. However, those fans who prefer deep thought provoking philosophical entreaties will want to read Peter Watts strong tale.

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