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Firefall
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Firefall

Séries: Firefall (Omnibus 1-2)

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1465188,256 (3.82)3
Firefallis the omnibus edition of the novels Blindsightand Echopraxia. February 13, 2082, First Contact. Sixty-two thousand objects of unknown origin plunge into Earth's atmosphere - a perfect grid of falling stars screaming across the radio spectrum as they burn. Not even ashes reach the ground. Three hundred and sixty degrees of global surveillance: something just took a snapshot. And then... nothing. But from deep space, whispers. Something out there talks - but not to us. Two ships, Theseus and the Crown of Thorns, are launched to discover the origin of Earth's visitation, one bound for the outer dark of the Kuiper Belt, the other for the heart of the Solar System. Their crews can barely be called human, what they will face certainly can't. 'A tour de force, redefining the First Contact story for good' Charles Stross. 'If you only read one science fiction novel this year, make it this one! ... It puts the whole of the rest of the genre in the shade ... It deserves to walk away with the Clarke, the Hugo, the Nebula, the BSFA, and pretty much any other genre award for which it's eligible. It's off the scale ... F**king awesome!' Richard Morgan. 'State-of-the-art science fiction: smart, dark and it grabs you by the throat from page one' Neal Ascher.… (mais)
Membro:EthicsGradient
Título:Firefall
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Coleções:A sua biblioteca
Avaliação:*****
Etiquetas:Fiction, science fiction, own, read

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Firefall por Peter Watts

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Mostrando 5 de 5
I could not follow anymore what was going on. I did not read the last quarter of the book. ( )
  PJDeSmet | Feb 2, 2022 |
Each generation has to re-tackle the major themes of science fiction anew, because the human world that aliens contact is changing all the time. You have but to look at, say, David Brin's 'Forge of God' to see that it was a situation where aliens were contacting the Earth of the mid- to late 1980s. Even when the first contact is set in the future, our view of that future hinges on how we view that future based on the concerns and emergent technologies of our own day. Arthur C. Clarke's '2001' was set in a very 1960s vision of a Big Science power block future. And the same applies to the first part of this omnibus edition, the 2006 novel 'Blindsight'.

But there is so much more to 'Blindsight' than just first contact with aliens. The world Peter Watts has built (his afterword to the novel seems to hint that there are some connections with the world of an earlier trilogy of his, 'Rifters') is way in advance of ours in terms of genetic manipulation, personality restructuring, space colonisation and virtual worlds. Oh, and Watts has found a use for matter transmission that is restricted to sending single sub-atomic particles from a to b.

Having said that, Watts' Earth is only really sketched through the eyes of his characters; and we see comparatively little of it, mainly in passing. That's not really the point. And the aliens remain a puzzle, right up to the end where their belligerence is laid bare for all to see. And that is how it should be. Alien life is going to turn out to be more unknowable than we can imagine; Peter Watts gives us some pointers towards that.

But 'Blindsight' isn't even really a novel about aliens. Rather, he takes a group of characters from our world on a journey to find aliens who were responsible for manifesting an encounter with the unknown on Earth, the sudden appearance of 62,000 alien probes that burn up in Earth's atmosphere and in that short time very possibly found out much more about us than we did about them. The crew that is sent to try to find the beings responsible for that act is comprised of a number of individuals, all of whom are in some way or another damaged; the bulk of the novel is taken up with exploring those personalities and finding (for the most part) the humanity limping along inside them, even though many readers might reject those personalities as barely human. There are a couple of exceptions - the extinct evolutionary line of human vampires, which disappeared way back in our prehistory, have been genetically re-engineered back for their predator's skills in organisation and strategy. 'Human' hardly describes them (most of the time).

In the end, this is hardly a novel of first contact; rather, it's about us, about humanity at its weakest, when we are so damaged as to hardly seem human for one reason or another; and how, despite that, we are still human despite everything. Along the way, we have to get to grips with some serious science (as someone once said of another novel from another hand, "this isn't just Hard Science Fiction, it's bl**dy DIFFICULT science fiction!"). And then, just when you've resigned yourself to a long critique of the human condition, the action roars back with a vengeance - I had to read the last fifty pages or so in a couple of fairly breathless sittings because the story pulled me along. And all the science stuff fell into place, because it is important.

The sequel, 'Echopraxia', dates from 2014 and has some important differences from the first book. The action is not directly connected with the earlier novel, though obviously the setting and situation is the same. There is some crossover in characters, but no personal appearances. There is a greater emphasis on action here, and we see more of the future Earth society; however, don't be misled into thinking that the cerebration lets up for a minute. Again, we have a group of barely functional characters in a ship of exploration following the manifestation of alien intelligence over the Earth; but this time, instead of heading out towards the Oort Cloud where the action seems to be, they are heading inwards, towards the telematter station 'Icarus', suspended above the Sun and beaming energy back to Earth, as well as to the distant spaceship 'Theseus'. Some of the clues unearthed in the investigation of the alien event, the 'Firefall' of the title, pointed back to 'Icarus'. Our point of view character, Dan Brüks, is a biologist who appears to get caught up in serious interfactional fighting between orders of monks in a desert monastery. But things are not what they seem, and he finds himself on board the spaceship 'Crown of Thorns', heading for the sun. Dan is a "baseline" - an unaugmented human, something of a rarity in his world - and so represents us, the closest to Everyman you'll see in this novel.

I said that there was more action, and that's true; but just as with 'Blindsight', you need to keep your brain in gear. Ultimately, we find out much more about ourselves and our own future than we ever do about the aliens; and once again, science fiction shows us that the only truly alien planet is Earth.

Anyone who thinks science fiction is merely escapist adventure needs to read this book. ( )
2 vote RobertDay | Feb 19, 2018 |
Firefall is the collected edition of the two novels that explore humanity's response to first contact (the Firefall event): Blindsight and Echopraxia.

Blindsight is rather hard science fiction (for a first contact novel featuring vampires in space, um) that - as good scifi should - asks difficult questions, in this case about humanity, consciousness and emotion. I found it interesting and thought-provoking rather than enjoyable - good brain food, but don't expect a light at the end of the tunnel or much else in the way of sustenance for the heart.

More thoughts on Blindsight.

Like Blindsight, Echopraxia may be one of those books that will sit better with me if I give it another whirl in a couple of year's time. I'll have to get back to you if I revisit it. As things stand, I am still trying to grapple with the point. I don't feel like I got closure or satisfaction from it; more an extended exercise in frustration at trying to figure out what the hell Watts was trying to achieve. If Blindsight had me arguing with the page, Echopraxia left me walking away with a 'whatevs'.

More thoughts on Echopraxia. ( )
  imyril | Dec 18, 2016 |
This is an epic science fiction first contact piece that left me wondering about sentience, consciousness and whether I could trust anything I saw, heard or felt. It is certainly the best book that I have read so far in 2015.

The book is an expansion of a previous novella, which is about half of the story. It's set in an advanced human spaceship travelling out to make contact with some suspicious anomalies in the outer solar system a few years after a massive extraterrestial probing of Earth, the firefall of the title. The mission is lead by a vampire (Peter Watts has a novel take on vampires, and they're not the traditional blood drinking horrors, although they are still monsters). The viewpoint is from Siri Keeton, a man with half a brain who works as a Chinese Room to help explain the technicalities to the others.

Far out from Earth the Theseus finds a strange entity in the orbit of a brown dwarf. It communicates with them, although the linguists believe that it doesn't understand. An interesting side note the linguists are a set of personalities run inside a single brain, having multiple personalities is no longer a disorder, merely a useful quirk. Many expeditions into the electromagnetic storms inside the thing to explore lead us into the gaps in our consciousness and an exploration of what it means to be human.

The second part of the story starts back on Earth, with another viewpoint character, Dan Bruks, a field biologist specialising in parasites. Into the desert that he has been living in and sampling comes a storm of combat zombies lead by another vampire. They are out to attack the temple of the Bicameral Order, a cult that have grown tailored tumours in their brains to go beyond science to create their own religion. Bruks flees into the Bicamerals, and he's one of only two baseline humans in the temple. A tailored virus fells most of the Bicamerals and Bruks escapes with Jim Moore (the other baseline human and a soldier), the vampire Valerie and a number of the Bicamerals to a spaceship in orbit.

While the bicamerals heal Bruks wonders why he has been caught up in all of this. He seems out of place and superseded by the augmented humans. Even Moore has implants that change him, when combat is needed he switches off his conscious control and his body fights. Again there's an underlying theme of what humanity is and where it ends. Several times we see the apparent end of things, only to find out the senses are lying to Bruks and what he thought he saw wasn't what happened. This could be frustrating, but it is very well done, and there is reflection and understanding as part of the story. Bruks has a couple of other characters to talk to, and none of it seems forced or an info dump.

At the end of the ebook version there are author notes for both parts of the story, and also a load of references if you want to read more of the things that influenced the story and how it developed. ( )
  jmkemp | Jul 5, 2016 |
I was unable to finish this book. It just dragged on and on. ( )
  gregandlarry | Mar 14, 2015 |
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Firefallis the omnibus edition of the novels Blindsightand Echopraxia. February 13, 2082, First Contact. Sixty-two thousand objects of unknown origin plunge into Earth's atmosphere - a perfect grid of falling stars screaming across the radio spectrum as they burn. Not even ashes reach the ground. Three hundred and sixty degrees of global surveillance: something just took a snapshot. And then... nothing. But from deep space, whispers. Something out there talks - but not to us. Two ships, Theseus and the Crown of Thorns, are launched to discover the origin of Earth's visitation, one bound for the outer dark of the Kuiper Belt, the other for the heart of the Solar System. Their crews can barely be called human, what they will face certainly can't. 'A tour de force, redefining the First Contact story for good' Charles Stross. 'If you only read one science fiction novel this year, make it this one! ... It puts the whole of the rest of the genre in the shade ... It deserves to walk away with the Clarke, the Hugo, the Nebula, the BSFA, and pretty much any other genre award for which it's eligible. It's off the scale ... F**king awesome!' Richard Morgan. 'State-of-the-art science fiction: smart, dark and it grabs you by the throat from page one' Neal Ascher.

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