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Future Fossils Book Club #1: Blindsight by Peter Watts

A few of us linked up this week for Future Fossils' first group video call and it was a lot of fun – in no small part because of the profundity and scope of the novel we discussed. 

Beyond the mp3 of our two-hour Zoom call, I've made a list of supplementary materials that ought to deepen your appreciation of this book and help you follow up on the related topics that came up in conversation.

Thanks everyone for being in on this community!  I'm glad the show's matured to the point that we can gather for this kind of discourse...hugely satisfying.  Looking forward to the next one.

MG

PS – I've posted a public poll to the Future Fossils Facebook Group for anyone who wants to weigh on there on what the next book we discuss should be (although, since it's a patrons-only book club, I will discard the votes of non-supporters). Can't wait to do this again in March!

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"It’s my opinion that Peter Watts’s Blindsight is the best hard science fiction novel of the first decade of this millennium—and I say that as someone who remains unconvinced of all the ramifications of its central argument. Watts is one of the crown princes of science fiction’s most difficult subgenre: his work is rigorous, unsentimental, and full of the sort of brilliant little moments of synthesis that make a nerd’s brain light up like a pinball machine. But he’s also a poet—a damned fine writer on a sentence level, who can make you feel the blank Lovecraftian indifference of the sea floor or of interplanetary space with the same ease facility with which he can pen an absolutely breathtaking passage of description. His characters have personalities and depth, and if most of them aren’t very nice people, well, that’s appropriate to the dystopian hellholes they inhabit...Blindsight is a tour de force, a science fiction novel that should be able to make any alert reader question not only what just happened in the pages, but exactly who is reading them."
– Elizabeth Bear for Tor Publications

"Blindsight is, to be quite honest, a philosophical investigation on the nature of consciousness and the fallacy of real human connection set against a backdrop of vampires and aliens. And it works....Watts, before he starting forging new paths in hard science fiction, had an established career as a biologist. Nowhere is that made clearer than in the frighteningly plausible vampires of Blindsight." - AE SciFi

(This novel has been published under the Creative Commons and you can read it here for free.)

Supplementary Materials:

• Teaser trailer for the in-progress CGI adaptation (99% on point)

• Peter Watts' fake pharmaceutical company presentation on Vampires (hilariously fukt)

• Wikipedia page for Blindsight (for refreshing your memory re: characters, plot points)

• Official webpage for the Theseus mission 

• Wikipedia page for Theseus (mythology)

• Weird Studies Podcast Episode 22 with Joshua Ramey

• About the Author 

"Who do you send to meet the alien when the alien doesn't want to meet?

You send a linguist with multiple personalities carved surgically into her brain. You send a biologist so radically interfaced with machinery that he sees x-rays and tastes ultra-sound, so compromised by grafts and splices he no longer feels his own flesh. You send a pacifist warrior whose career-defining moment was an act of treason. You send a monster to command them all, an extinct hominid predator once called vampire, recalled from the grave with the voodoo of recombinant genetics and the blood of sociopaths. And you send a synthesist — an informational topologist with half his mind gone — as an interface between here and there, a conduit through which the Dead Center might hope to understand the Bleeding Edge. 

You send them all to the edge of interstellar space, praying you can trust such freaks and retrofits 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 only knew what was waiting for them..."

– Peter Watts 

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