How do you say "We come in peace" when the very words are an act of war?Blindsight is a hard sci-fi novel by Canadian author and marine biologist Peter Watts. It's a dark and cerebral First Contact story that deals heavily with issues of sentience and what it means to be an "intelligent" species. Despite being nominated for a Hugo Award for "Best Novel", the novel is hard to find in stores (owing to troubles with the publisher). Watts, deciding he'd rather have the book be easily available for anyone to read, put the whole thing up on his website for free.In the near future, the world is stunned when a collection of unknown objects simultaneously burn up in the Earth's atmosphere in a grid pattern over the entire planet. Dubbed the "Firefall", this mysterious act is accompanied by an immensely powerful radio signal. Scientists track it's origin and discover what appears to be an approaching alien vessel, outside the solar system. A mission is quickly organized to establish contact and see what's going on. A ship is built, called the Theseus.A crew full of odd and eccentric specialists are aboard: a linguist with surgically-induced multiple personalities, a biologist who's given up his sensory pathways for machine augmentation and perception, a top-brass soldier known for treason, and the protagonist is an information analyst with half his brain removed. They are all lead by a vampire*, a sociopathic genius and cannibal who, nevertheless, is the only one coldly-logical enough to run the mission.The book is known to be a depressing and pessimistic (yet enlightening) story on a variety of topics relating to consciousness, information theory, and neurology, and has received highly positive critical acclaim despite its semi-obscurity.
This book features the following tropes (Warning: spoilers below):