Blindsight – Peter Watts

About the Book

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

Published on October 3, 2006
Published by Tor Books
Author’s website

This book was provided for me to review by the publisher.

You know that feeling when you go to the gym and you work out and you do everything just right so your muscles feel that right amount of burn. You know you did something incredible for your body, and you feel fantastically productive and high from the endorphin rush. You had a fantastic workout, and the results are already showing, at least to you, because your body is burning and that burn is saying, Thank you!

That’s exactly what reading Blindsight was like.

Blindsight is considered hard SciFi. There are a ton of science terms that readers will have to puzzle out, and plenty of technological gizmos and gadgets that might not make sense for a while, but when everything clicks into place you’ll be going through one “Ah ha!” moment after another and it’s absolutely wonderful.

Some books you can sit back and enjoy. Some books require no effort. They’re fluff and fun, and that’s what they are meant to be. That’s okay. Other books make you work for it, and there’s a sort of intense satisfaction that comes from that effort on the reader’s side. Blindsight is that kind of book. Watts makes you work for it. And even now, after I’ve put the book down and had some time to think over it, I’m pretty sure I will have to re-read it to fully understand it all.

And I’m completely okay with that. In fact, I look forward to it.

The thing about Watts is that he doesn’t just throw you through a delectable hard SciFi wormhole, but he is also one hell of an incredible author. Despite the fact that this book switches from first to second perspective occasionally, the impact is profound. Watts uses his narrative focus like the tool it is meant to be, and he really manages to pull readers into this universe that they probably don’t fully understand.

In fact, it’s hard to understand something that complex, and that real. We don’t really understand our universe now. There is very real uncertainty between us and the Great Beyond, and Watts captures that perfectly. His characters are all vague and sort of mysterious. Siri, the main character, is rather unattached, and strives to be an unemotional observer. This gives readers a really unique spyglass type insight into what is going on in the novel. It was absolutely priceless. As the plot progresses and things really start getting layered and surprising, Siri’s unique disposition and the interweaving of stories from his past help readers gain a better psychological perspective into what is happening.

That’s probably the most incredible aspect of this completely baffling, absolutely poignant first contact story – it’s just as physical as it is psychological. In fact, I think this is probably one of the most psychological books I’ve read in a long time, and I loved that. It also managed to make Blindsight one of those rare books that will take a few days to fully sink in, and a few readings to completely understand.

The pacing is rather interesting, and it’s probably the part of the book that will either make it or break it for readers. A lot happens while not much is happening. Blindsight deals with a lot of waiting around; a lot of observations and tons of conversations while people are trying understand exactly what they are observing. If you’re one of those readers who prefer guns blazing and constant action, then this probably isn’t the book for you. If you’re more science minded and enjoy the process of discovery as much as discovery itself, then give this one a try.

I am an unabashed hard SciFi fan, and Blindsight is a perfect example of why. Watts takes this heavy, layered, complex, mysterious universe of ours, and fills it full of characters that are just as heavy, layered, complex and mysterious. His writing is through-the-roof amazing. The first contact story he is telling is both bone chilling and absolutely compelling. Siri was a perfect character to tell the story because he serves as more of a window for the reader to creep through and really experience what is happening. Watts doesn’t try to speak down to readers. This book is full of science jargon and technological terms. It’s full of advanced concepts that I only halfway understand, and left me with a lot of stuff I want to research and a head full of ideas and possibilities.

Most of all it left me in absolute awe of the brain in that man’s head. To be able to write such an intense, incredible book, full of such intense, incredible people and situations is absolutely… well, incredible. Author’s like Watts are a huge reason why my enthusiasm for the genre is constantly burning. He doesn’t just tell a story, but he makes his readers live it and in so doing, the universe is at my fingertips and it is large, and lush, and real.

Blindsight blew my damn mind. That’s all you really need to know.


5/5 stars

2 Responses

  • Astra

    I also liked the part where he put the publications on which he based his sf musings in the back. Usually, I only read Astrophysical Journal citations at work, not in my spare time.

  • GREAT review!!! Love this book and this author. This is my favorite sci-fi book and also the most under-rated sci-fi book. I’m so glad to see new people discovering it. I’m looking forward to Echopraxia.

    Did you notice it is also an allegory? There are a lot of things to notice. Reading it a second time is a great experience. We made 2 podcasts about it on It’s way more fun to talk to other people about it.

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