Thursday, November 24, 2005

46. Starfish by Peter Watts

Starfish book pictureI'm very psyched about this book. It's the first one of the whole year that got me really excited. I grabbed it off the shelf at the library because the cover looked cool and it was by a Canadian author. It claims to fall under the heading of "hard sci-fi" whatever that means. I think it's just because it has a lot of science in it.

It's about a group of psychologically damaged people who have been genetically altered and put into a deep sea station where they are supposed to be handling the maintenance of these generators taking energy from powerful hydrothermal vents. These vents are supplying a lot of the energy to the world. The people running the project found that certain types of victims of abuse were the only ones capable of existing in such an oppressive atmosphere. They are modified and trained so that they can swim around.

So basically, you've got a pod of psychos who are practically amphibious. But what happens is that they start to discover that they are much happier outside of the pod in the ocean. They start to adapt to it and it changes their personalities. On top of that, the reasons for them being down their start to get really interesting, which I don't even want to get into. Suffice it to say that this book deals with a lot of cool themes: a dystopic society, complex psychological relationships, accelerated human evolution, morality politics and biological plague. It's taut and fast-moving, with really cool science and tech concepts. Most of the action takes place underwater, which is described beautifully (as is the characters' slowly developing empathy and eventual dependence on the environment). But there are tantalizing hints of the world on the surface.

This book stands on it's own, but I think the series continues and I'm psyched.

Highly recommended. Very psyched to have discovered this author.

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