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CompleteMartialArts.com - Blindsight

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Manufacturer: Tor Books
Average Customer Rating: Average rating of 4.0/5Average rating of 4.0/5Average rating of 4.0/5Average rating of 4.0/5Average rating of 4.0/5

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Binding: Paperback
Dewey Decimal Number: 813
EAN: 9780765319647
ISBN: 0765319640
Label: Tor Books
Manufacturer: Tor Books
Number Of Items: 1
Number Of Pages: 384
Publication Date: 2008-03-04
Publisher: Tor Books
Release Date: 2008-03-04
Studio: Tor Books

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Editorial Reviews:

The Hugo Award–nominated novel by “a hard science fiction writer through and through and one of the very best alive.” The Globe and Mail
Two months have past 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 should we 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 with machinery that 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. . . .

Spotlight customer reviews:

Customer Rating: Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5
Summary: amazing riff on modern cognitive neurobiology
Comment: this was the most intelligent science fiction book I have read in a long time. The constant play with human consciousness throughout the entire story is really fascinating exploring concepts I have only previously read in textbooks. What is attention? What is consciousness? How often do you read a work of science fiction that reads like an intelligent speculation on the cutting edge of neuroscience? This was well done, but it may not appeal to the military shoot-em-up SF fans.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5
Summary: Indescribably delicious.
Comment: In a scientifically chuthuloid universe, "The Speed of Dark" and "I Am Legend" meet "Spider Monsters from Mars" over drawn philosophical debates about the merits of consciousness. The mind boggles.

If that first sentence made sense to you, you're better prepared to read this book than I was. It started confusing - fortunately I have a little theory-of-consciousness reading under my belt or it would have stayed that way permanently. This book has endnotes. Seriously - it cites references. When was the last time you read fiction that cited references? I can absolutely see why it was listed for the Hugos. It's so densely packed with serious ideas - some of them lovely and new - that I'm going to be thinking about it years from now. It's not a book you *want* to re-read anytime soon, since it's not particularly cheery - do not read this if, say, you're tired and sad and want something comforting unless you're the sort who takes comfort in HP Lovecraft. But it is a book you will want to re-read again just to se if you understand it better the second time around. There are things in it which will definitely play differently with the knowledge you get from finishing the book.

It's an interestingly structured book - if you are a cheater and skip to the end to read the last page you will be no closer to understanding what happened than if you read the first and stopped. You have to go through the middle of the book to get to the end, or you'll just be completely confused; stuff - important stuff - is happening the entire time in the story, even if it looks like a slow part.

At any rate. I - well, can't say I enjoyed it the way I enjoy sushi or kittens, but I read it through in one night and I'm glad I did. Now I'm going back to do my college final so I can have a break from the hard work.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 2/5Average rating of 2/5Average rating of 2/5Average rating of 2/5Average rating of 2/5
Summary: Great concept, poor execution.
Comment: A lot of my thoughts have been covered by other reviewers so I'll try to highlight areas that may not have been as well represented.

The concepts here are great and I love the idea. The whole vampire thing is a bit strange but interesting, as are the freezing of people and the general tech.

The backstory on the main character was facinating and the role he takes in life because of an early pivotal event is great.

Where the writing falls down is the pacing of the critical character development. It is slow for a long time, and then in 1 paragraph, the character all of a sudden has this huge epiphany -- a giant leap that the writing doesn't support. Granted, it is somewhat like real life, in that when everything gels in your head, you all of a sudden "get it". But to take that approach for the characters in a book, when all we can see into their heads is 1 paragraph? Weak! A serious let-down too! You come up on what is supposed to feel like a really pivotal development for the character, and it blasts right past, leaving you re-reading that paragraph, and the 2 before it, 3 or 4 times trying to figure what you missed.


Borrow this one from your local library and give it a go so that if you are dissapointed (like I was), you'll have only spent time.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 3/5Average rating of 3/5Average rating of 3/5Average rating of 3/5Average rating of 3/5
Summary: Tries WAAAAAY too hard. . . .
Comment: This semi-cyberpunk hard-science yarn is pretty interesting for the most part -- but it sure isn't easy to read. It's close to the end of the 21st century and advances in biotechnology and nano-science have completely rewritten the definitions of life and even existence. Then a horde of small alien artifacts burns up in Earth's atmosphere and it's clear First Contact is upon us, in the form of a lurking presence somewhere just outside our solar system. A team is put together to go and investigate and it's their journey and encounter with the Other that makes up the bulk of the story. Siri, the narrator, is a Synthesist, able to tell what people are really thinking from surface cues, There's also a linguistics specialist divided into four personalities, a biologist who is more machine than meat, a somewhat pacifist military specialist, and the commander of the expedition -- a vampire. He's the sort of boss you don't even think about not obeying. The "alien" turns out to be a ship -- or lifeform, or other artifact, the human crew is never really sure -- that produces its own lifeforms (or whatever they are) and which is a very daunting enemy indeed. If it actually is an enemy. And that's part of the problem with this book: Nothing is ever resolved. At the end, the expedition's sole survivor is heading back to Earth with what is probably untrustworthy information, and the alien ship is still out there. Probably. Maybe. Or, maybe Watts is just trying to hard to be cool.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 3/5Average rating of 3/5Average rating of 3/5Average rating of 3/5Average rating of 3/5
Summary: As a Human, Found it Hard to Relate
Comment: Honestly, I enjoyed reading the research notes--which, seriously, are an extremely interesting and thought-provoking read--more than I did the book itself. Watts has taken on the challenge of writing a novel cast entirely with characters who barely qualify as human beings investigating an alien form of life whose processes of cognition and perception have almost nothing in common with any form of life on Earth. In places it requires intense concentration to follow what is happening, more than I think should be necessary in a book that is presumably trying to communicate with the reader. But in general the descriptions of complex ideas and events are handled with skill.

I think Watts probably succeeded in his goals, hence the three stars. But by the end I really didn't care. I suspect that's because I'm not a barely socially functional human being or an alien that doesn't really think in self-aware terms. So while many of the extrapolations are brilliant, including the vampires--just about the best version I've ever read--I just don't think the book works very well as a piece of fiction. In order to be invested in the outcome of a novel, I need to generate more than just some intellectual curiosity about what happens to everyone and everything in it. I felt sorry for a few of the characters and disliked others, but even those emotions were fairly mild. The most effective sections were the flashbacks that Siri has to his life on Earth, where at least you have interactions with other characters that are recognizably human. Mind you, I believe Watts can write characters you become emotionally invested in. I'm just saying that in this novel he seems to have consciously decided not to do that.

Ultimately, I'd much rather read this material in a nonfiction work by Watts. The story is just so unremittingly bleak--I would hate to live in the future he describes--and its protagonists so unsympathetic that the elements of horror are blunted. And the science would be just as interesting as an essay or a thought-experiment.

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