Recent reads


Been a while since I last updated this:

  • Winter Song by Colin Harvey. The planet of Isheimur was terraformed centuries ago, at the height of humanity’s resources and ambitions. But everything was lost in the subsequent intergalactic war, and Isheimur has been slowly sinking into decay, recycling every year the bases of its survival–knowing that each piece of technology that breaks down can never be replaced. Into this dying world stumbles Karl, a human marooned after the destruction of his ship. Karl is desperate to get home; but the atrophied subsistence society of Isheimur might not be ready for the radical shock of his presence…
    A very cool read. There are no earth-shattering ideas, but the characters are very well-drawn, believable and sympathetic without being sappy. The slowly dying society is terrifically depicted, and while I know some people might disagree, I absolutely loved the ending. I love that there are no compromises or shying away from brutal truths.
  • Blindsight, Peter Watts. I picked this one up mainly on the recommendation of the BF, who heard Peter Watts speak in Montreal and was apparently very impressed by what he had to say. Earth becomes aware of an alien presence when thousands of miniature objects survey the planet. A mission is hastily put together to see what the aliens could possibly want: headed by a genetically engineered vampire, Theseus aims to achieve first contact. Its other members are a pacifist soldier, a heavily-robotised biologist, a linguist with multiple personalities, and the narrator, a ex-epileptic with half his brain removed, and who acts as a detached observer to report back to Earth. But his detachment may be the one thing that ends up dooming him…
    Wow. This was full of terrific ideas about cognition, consciousness and sentience. As a bonus, it was also an awesome first contact story, with none of the plausibility problems I usually have with those stories. There are a fair amount of explanations about biology, but always done in a fascinating fashion; and it’s got the Chinese Room experiment playing a huge part (yes, I’m a geek) . It played a lot like a tremendously intelligent horror story in space, for all the SF trappings (the vampire is a huge clue, but not the only motif that’s been taken from horror).
    Word of warning: it’s also very, very dense. My report to the BF was basically that he had to read it, but that French would probably be easier on him than English…


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