Human obsolescence beckons
Release Date: OUT NOW!
761 pages | £ 20 ( hardback)/£ 5.79 ( ebook) Author: Peter Watts Publisher: Head Of Zeus merciless, Firefall is a science-fictionalised philosophical argument that human sentience is neither inevitable nor necessary, and that free will is an illusion. Dressed up, naturally, with aliens and spaceships and such. Originally two books, it’s been released here in one volume.
Blindsight is set at the tail end of a post- singularity 21st century. The catalysing event is the unexpected survey of Earth by an alien intelligence. A mission’s sent out to investigate, crewed by a bunch of barely human transhumans and a vampire. ( Watts’s vampires are an offshoot human species that died out, resurrected from junk DNA by modern idiots.)
Sequel Echopraxia concerns a second mission. Another story where characters sit around in a spaceship arguing the ontological toss makes for a certain amount of over- familiarity, and it lacks the first’s impact.
A sort of callous Rendezvous With Rama, the book’s tone tends to the didactic, while the over- the- top abilities of Watts’s vampires in particular betray the author’s contempt for the human condition. Watts is a sort of anti- HG Wells, or a latter- day Kevin McCarthy shouting unbelievable, unpalatable truths into the traffic. However, there’s an immense amount of actual science, applied creatively, which provides food for thought. By no means nice, this is SF harder than granite, and about as compromising. Guy Haley