I really really really like Blindsight by Peter Watts, and its sequel (or “sidequel”) Echopraxia, or Firefall #1 & #2, or however they are described. And I enjoyed his earlier books, which I came to later, Starfish and it sequel, Maelstrom (and thought Maelstrom is not a sidequel, I thought that S & M bore the same relationship in terms of this thing happened, then look what happened to the Earth, as occurred with B & E). I suspect I don’t have enough of the ideas to be good at reviewing, or at least confidence about the ideas, but Elizabeth Bear writes an excellent review of Blindsight at Tor – “Best SFF Novels of the Decade: An Appreciation of Blindsight“. Or the short version from Charles Stross, stolen from Watts’ wikipedia page: ‘The novel has been described by Charles Stross as follows: “Imagine a neurobiology-obsessed version of Greg Egan writing a first contact with aliens story from the point of view of a zombie posthuman crewman aboard a starship captained by a vampire, with not dying as the boobie prize.”‘ There you go. Very thoughtful, very science-y, very good science fiction. First contact is the end, and it is terrifying.
And that’s all by way of introducing some comments from Watts about the current pandemic. Nauseated as I have been by various Channel 9 celebrities and sports stars telling me “We’re all in this together”, and to hang tight, and references to the Aussie spirit (bugger off), it was refreshing and chilling (chilling is refreshing, isn’t it?) to read this today at his blog:
… a distressingly large number of people seem to think this preamble comprises the Main Event.
How else do you explain those idiotic memes juxtaposing Mad Max with “Let’s stream our art for free! Let’s sing to each other!”? How else to explain the fact that even the usually-brilliant Laurie Penny has bought into the whole “fuzzy teledistant social apocalypse” model. More Douglas Adams than Danny Boyle, she writes over on Wired. Maybe now. Maybe on Month 2 of an interminable slide.
Media res. The movies don’t start at the beginning of it all. They jump to the action, which hasn’t started yet. Yet.
Try sharing your homemade sourdough recipes when the grid goes down. Have you forgotten that two weeks ago, people were coming to blows over toilet paper?
What does month 14 look like? Or month 4, next pandemic. Regardless of how well this works out, and I greatly appreciate that Australia looks very different to Italy and the US and UK, with less deaths so far than 10% of those from influenze each year, we the living are not out of the woods yet. This is not the horror movie, this is the back story.