Blindsight – Peter Watts (Minor Spoilers)

First things first, this book is available online, for free, so if you want to read it – http://www.rifters.com/real/Blindsight.htm – knock yourself out. I downloaded it for my Kindle (I think through Project Guttenberg, but I’m not sure, it was a while back at the suggestion of a friend… I’m sure you can find it easily enough though) because I get screen headaches, but that was free too, so all good.

I. LOVE. THIS. BOOK. So much. And that’s not the post-read euphoria talking. I finished it several hours ago, and that has faded. And I’m still in love. Clearly onto a winner here. However, I’m not sure I’d recommend it madly to all and sundry. It ticks a lot of my personal love-it boxes, but they really aren’t for everyone. It /does/ tick a lot of general positive boxes too, though there are some issues that might turn away anyone but the devoted SF/vampire/mental-writing-style fan.

Oh yes, that’s a minor spoiler right there. As another friend (who has read the book) said to me, it’s “a space horror story, with vampires. The vampires aren’t the horror.”, which is a pretty good assessment. The presence of vampires, and pretty cool, well-done, clever vampires at that, is /entirely incidental to much of the plot/. They’re not even really treated like a massive thing. Which is amazing. The author is much keener on listing all the mental disorders he can think of. No, really. That happens. For a good reason, of course, but it really does. Don’t worry, it works in context. Just have Wikipedia handy. But yes, having the vampires as incidental really cements them into the setting. They work. And it lets you focus on the plot and mad writing style without getting too tied up coo-ing over his awesome vampires.

I’ll come to the plot in a moment.

The writing style is nuts. Not Vellum nuts (by Hal Duncan, one of my favourite books of all time, and completely mad) but not sane either. It is a hard slog at the start to get into it. I’m not sure if I just got used to the style a little way in, or if he just lessened up on the weirdness, but by about 20% (Kindle, sorry) I was reading it like a normal book. And it is really worth the effort. The writing style is /appropriately/ insane. Once you get to know the point of view character, it makes sense. He’s a bit mad, and it’s the same flavour of madness. And it really adds to the feel of the book and the progression of the plot… you really get pulled into Siri’s point of view and into how his mind works, it’s excellent. Especially as he’d be a hard character with whom to empathise normally.

Right. Plot. I don’t know. I mean, I liked it. I liked it a lot. But it’s not spectacular. It’s fun and exciting and a good story that’s not too predictable, but it’s not the high-point of the book. The world building and setting are amazing, the writing is cool and the characters are wonderful… the plot sort of takes a back seat when you’ve got all that. Obviously I’m not going to go into details because major spoilers lie that-a-way, but I never felt /that/ surprised by anything that happens. You didn’t necessarily predict it all, but when it happens… it’s not that shocking either. This is a book you read for the made up science, not the ripping yarn, I’m afraid. But the made up science is completely worth it. So that’s ok.

Overall, I want to recommend this to everyone. I really do. But it wouldn’t be everyone’s cup of tea, not by a long way. If you can deal with the writing style, and like exposition, I think you’d enjoy it a lot, but if you’re in it for the story… I’d say probably don’t bother.

For me: Vampires – check
Insane style of writing – check
Character I love – check (and double, triple check)
Explosions – check
Exposition – check

If that appeals to you, go ahead and read it. You’ll love it.

Oh and it’d make a great film. Especially if there was Siri narration.

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About readerofelse

A student of a redundant, useless and thoroughly interesting subject and reader of many books, particularly fantasy, science fiction and plenty else besides.
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One Response to Blindsight – Peter Watts (Minor Spoilers)

  1. Aha! I was talking to Alex about this today. I didn’t realise it was free! Must get it on my Kindle …

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