The Good with the Bad

Here’s a break from all the mutilation-fetish stuff that’s been spreading across the ‘crawl lately: some good news to mitigate the bad.  As some of you have noticed, Tor.com has recently released the results of their (admittedly unscientific) readers poll for the Best SF/Fantasy books of the past decade, and Blindsight hasn’t budged from its preliminary perch at #4.  Given that #2 and #3 are both fantasy novels (fantasy massively outnumbers SF on the list), one could even say that Tor.com readers chose Blindsight as the decade’s #2 science fiction novel, right after Scalzi’s unbeatable Old Man’s War (which is, for those few who haven’t yet heard, soon to be a Major Motion Picture).

This is a way better showing than I had ever expected, especially given Blindsight‘s sales figures compared to those of, well, pretty much every other book on the list.  I owe its ranking to you folks and you folks alone.  You turned out in droves when I said Grrrr, let’s show those guys.  We did.  You did.  Thank you.

And now Elizabeth Bear — aka Ursabelle to, well, to me I guess (although I think it’s a very cool nickname and cannot understand why it hasn’t caught on; it’s a helluva lot easier to pronounce than “matociquala”) — has penned a marvellous and hard-edged appreciation of Blindsight over here, as part of the series Tor.com has commissioned  for each of the top ten.  The presence of people like Ursabelle, down there across the impassable 49th, is the only reason I can’t dismiss my banishment from the US with a contemptuous shrug.  It seems odd that a few power-tripping and illiterate fucktards lurking beneath the Blue Water Bridge should be able to so easily impede my access to beloved friends.

They haven’t cut it off entirely, though.  You guys can always come up here.


This entry was written by Peter Watts , posted on Thursday March 03 2011at 01:03 pm , filed under art on ink, blindsight, writing news . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

29 Responses to “The Good with the Bad”

  1. Peter,

    First and foremost, get well and knit all that too,too sullied flesh.

    Second, “Blindsight” will probably be ranked as one of the best SF books of this century. Were it not “genre”, I think it would take its place among the finest literary works of the century.

    Finally, Have you read Keikaku [Project] Ito’s “Harmony”?

    Ito comes at consciousness from a perspective different from yours. He also deals with the possible elimination of consciousness and the consequence of doing so.

    Toward the end, I kept thinking of “Blindsight”.

    Thanks for all of your work and commentary.

    Once again, heal. We need you around.

    Rick York

  2. Congratulations on the win!

    I didn’t realise this until today, but Kushiel’s Dart, the novel that came one place behind Blindsight, is femsub BDSM porn with a thin glaze of fantasy for extra deniability. You can do what you want with that information.

  3. Never much liked fantasy, anyways. I likes the sci-fi a bit, ahem, harder. oh, and the odd bits of history-history is becoming more and more fascinating. It was just fucked up back then.
    Here’s an idea: maybe somebody could put together a Flesh Fest-I’m seeing bands, dark cabaret, horror films, particularly the Italian ones, those are heavy on the flesh, and you as guest of honour. The bands and films are to draw in people not familiar with your work, get you some money (though not much-festivals are expensive!) and the price of admission could be whatever it costs to get in, and maybe hey, buying one of your books.
    Just an idea, a passing thought.

  4. Damn, we went up against American Gods, The Name of the Wind, A Storm of Swords and Anathem and came in 4th!?

    Shit, we’re playing with the big boys now. Heal up that leg and crank out a New York Times Bestseller, ’cause you know we’re all buying 5 copies each of the next one.

  5. Cool, congratulations. You more than deserve it! I actually just finished reading Blindsight for 6th time and I still find the part (Among many others, of course!) where Cunningham figures out that the scramblers were miles ahead of them all along, to be one of the best passages I have ever read in a book. Still makes my heart race!

    I can’t fucking wait to read the sequel!

  6. First, Peter, what the hell?

    I stop visiting the blog for a bit, and you almost die.
    Then I come back, and there are PICTURES OF THE MEAT INSIDE YOUR BODY!

    Which, I’ll be honest, were really neat, but engaged my empathy bits a little more than I anticipated, and I had to get up and walk around to keep from losing it.

    That vacuum thing is pretty awesome. In a sucking out your juices kind of way.
    Jukka Sarasti would find the whole thing terribly amusing, I’m sure.
    And possibly delicious.

    Congrats on Blindsight doing so well. It’s a hell of a book.

  7. Awesome! There’s some great news out of this whole “I’m melting” period. Good job spitting in life’s face.

    Hope you feel better soon; I suspect the cat-beacons will deflate eventually.

  8. The amazing thing is that anybody could vote at all. By the time you brought it to my attention, the site had reached a browser busting mass of singularity inducing proportions. I tried several time to vote, but no luck. I assume every other book’s audience suffered from an equal handicap, but I wish we could have lifted you even higher. Heal and write, in that order. Thanks.

  9. Awesome! As for coming to Toronto (again, in my case) given that the drive is ten hours, and there is no train, and the GTAA is bloody-minded stupid so tickets are expensive . . . well, I plan to do so, but it will definitely involve some creativity. *wry* Somehow, before World Fantasy 2012, which I have been wavering about attending. If life had rolled out differently, I might have been at Ad Astra this year. *sigh*

  10. Fans are a vital and necessary evil, like the lowly bacterium. However, we promise to never ever eat your leg.

  11. we promise to never ever eat your leg.

    That would be an interesting eucharist.

  12. Hljóðlegur:
    “Fans are a vital and necessary evil, like the lowly bacterium. However, we promise to never ever eat your leg.”

    Only your soul.

  13. Congrats on the Blindsight results, my friend! That’s awesome. Well worth it, (and honestly, the better of the top two SF books IMO, but heck…one’s mileage may vary).

    And as for coming up there…I actually am tentatively planning on attending Polaris this year, so you may just have to put up with meeting me in the flesh. Hopefully you’ll be recovered enough by then to attend, but I can always stalk you to your abode if you haven’t…*grin*.

  14. And coming up there is definitely in my plans, though not this year. 0.0

  15. Sheila‘s strange eucharist:
    Protestants, when you get the silver tray of tiny cubes of Peter’s leg, just take one and pass the tray down the row.

    ScottC
    What does it taste like?

  16. Elizabeth Bear’s review pretty completely sums up my opinion of Blindsight. I would add that it bears a second and third reading.

    I find the utility of consciousness/self-awareness an interesting question.

    There was a presentation on investigation into self-awareness in monkeys by John David Smith, from State University of New York at Buffalo and Michael Beran, from Georgia State University at the recent AAAS meeting.

    The BBC coverage focuses on the difference between primates from the old world (self-aware) and new world (aware). The experimental design sounds elegant. There was no explicit indication of which category actually scored higher, although it is sort of implied that it was the self-aware monkeys.

    Check out http://news.bbc.co.uk/earth/hi/earth_news/newsid_9401000/9401945.stm The original paper seems to be in Trends in Cognitive Sciences (Volume 13, Issue 9).

  17. Ken Kennedy: […] so you may just have to put up with meeting me in the flesh. […]

    Careful, there’s some speculation that he’s living in a Peter Watts novel. How many people survive meeting the main character in a Peter Watts novel?

  18. Peter,
    Great to hear that you are on the mend. Those pics were evil.
    Blindsight : Much deserved recognition, I have been singing its praises to everyone
    I know. Just gave it a third re-read- again, thanks for such a great piece of work. And as per your crossing that border, maybe we can get you in for a conference later this year via skype.
    Cheers

  19. @Hljóðlegur
    What does it taste like?

    Watts’ soul?

    Chicken, if it were raised on Calamari, despair, and Bactine.

  20. @Sheila: oh. crap. Good point.

    As for the multiple Blindsight reads, I heartily agree. The novel keeps making my head wrap around weird angles…

  21. What is annoying is that I never see it in stock in bookstores. I have bought 5-6 copies as gifts for people and every time I have to special order it. You would think that it would be on the shelves. They are idiots.

  22. @ScottC: hee.

    Not sweet red ham fed on the dark truffles of dreams? Oh, wait, that’s Miéville.

  23. I only just now noticed what the dedication in Blindsight says: “If we’re not in pain, we’re not alive.”

  24. “Blindsight” was, as I said in the subject line of a letter to the good doctor, “just f*cking brilliant”. Well, I don’t think I’ll get a lot of disagreement on that from the folks here.

    The top of my head fell off somewhere around page 10 and I have repeatedly stuffed the contents of “Blindsight” into that gaping hole a few times, each more pleasurable than the last. I even went so far as to go on a bit of a buying spree for hardcopy of his books. They’re oddly hard to find, considering that they’re practically munitions. But as we all know, the hardcopy publishing business is on its last legs and we need to find or make some way to make this pay for both the authors and the distributors.

    Dr Watts: if there’s anyone I can write to try to get your entries into the States green-lighted to the point where they build a dedicated Customs lane for you at every port-of-entry, please let me know. Ordinarily I’m a hard-liner on the whole “keep out the terrorists and intellectuals” scene here, but for anyone who can write like you do, I insist that your passport should be stamped “anytime, anywhere, for any or for no reason, this one gets a salute as you wave him through and you will smile SINCERELY as you wave him through”.

    Now, just get well; I’m itching for that “Blindsight” sidequel, as are the rest of your public and the Hugo nominating committee.

  25. Totally well deserved. Congrats!

    I would come to Toronto immediately if my financial situation wasn’t such a ridiculous disaster…

  26. “fucktards”?

    Peter, that’s lovely. And congrats on the kudos re: BLINDSIGHT; it is more than deserving. Hope that helps keep your spirits up, I know you must be feeling frustrated and pissed off at times at the Great Bird of the Galaxy, which has chosen your noggin to defecate on of late.

    Stay frosty, mon.

  27. “fucktards”?

    Aggressive retards?

  28. Congratulations, Mr. Watts. Blindsight is an exceptional book, and the introduction to your work that I’m extremely glad I stumbled upon, really quite by accident.

    “You guys can always come up here.”

    And we plan to. That is, I plan to. Through the miracle of geography (actually, mostly the miracle of Google Maps) I managed to put together that Toronto is only 12 hours by road from where I live and I totally own a passport. This fall, I hope!

    Lastly, I second what Mr. Hardman said. I don’t care who I have to inundate with letters, it’s an effort I’d readily contribute a lot to. (Or, you know. I’ve at least a three body trunk in my car. You could bring a friend. And the cats.)

  29. From a comment on Elisabeth Bear’s note on the book: “(One last point: given how amazingly bleak Watts was when he wrote this — and the Starfish trilogy — I can’t imagine what he’ll be turning out now he’s had the charming experience of being beaten up by border guards, becoming a felon, and having his leg eaten alive. I suspect his next book will break the Bleak Event Horizon.) ”

    I too wait for the next incredibly bleak Watt’s novel, although I suspect that Watts’ inner fury is what’s causing his illness.