My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Peter Watts himself intuits the main problem of this ambitious but uneven novel in his end notes when he ponders how “shitloads of essential theory threatened to overwhelm the story, not to mention the problem of generating reader investment in a cast of characters who were less cuddlesome than usual.”
That this “shitloads of essential theory” comes to a head in an ending that is part philosophical conundrum and part desperate space battle is quite staggering, not to mention that Watts achieves an impressively open cliffhanger that one can only hope is addressed in Echopraxia.
My biggest problem with Blindsight is the limited context of the mission to investigate the Roscharch. We get fascinating glimpses into how our world has fragmented and evolved as Siri in particular has flashbacks to his childhood, but this is not enough to ground the story.
Another major problem is that the novel takes a dip into icky Lovecraftian type horror at one point – a dip that just keeps on going until the reader cannot figure out if he or she is more grossed out or discomfited.
The most fun part of the book is the section at the end where Watts riffs on everything from putative vampire biology to the sentience versus intelligence debate. Here Watts is erudite, conversational and occasionally very funny, which reminded me how bleak and humourless Blindsight really is.