Bedtime Stories

More about me, I’m afraid.  Given the current prospects for this gig I can’t really get motivated to invest the necessary time and effort for a proper science posting— but when other folks talk about me, I can talk about them in turn with minimal effort.

Today the guy that’s talking about me writes something called GeekDad Review over at Wired.com, and he’s been kind enough to post a glowing review of Starfish almost ten years after the book first came out1.  (Ten years. Oh Noodly One, ten fucking years.  Am I rich yet?) And while such front-and-center attention from so high-profile a site is a very pleasant surprise in and of itself, what I find most fun is the subsequent reader comments falling over themselves to warn Mr Baichtal that the subsequent rifters books (which he has not read) are full of rape and the ol’ ultraviolence, and should probably not be read to youngsters at bedtime.

Of course.  GeekDad.  I guess this column’s mandate is to recommend bedtime reading for the geeklets.  Which would make Starfish a piece of children’s literature.

Well, okay, I guess.  Anything to boost the hit count…


1Less than a year after the trade-paper reissue, though.

This entry was written by Peter Watts , posted on Thursday March 05 2009at 03:03 pm , filed under ink on art, reviews, rifters . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

18 Responses to “Bedtime Stories”

  1. Huh? 4-book trilogy? Is Blindsight related to Rifters in a way that eluded me?

  2. Behemoth was split into two books for print, because it was “too long” ostensibly, but I’m fairly certain it was just the publisher being a dickbag. I think there’s probably something in the archives of the ‘crawl about it.

  3. I’m not sure I’d’ve thought of ‘Starfish’ as a bedtime story, but I’m glad someone’s still talking about it. I only read the books in the last year, but I found them very enjoyable.

  4. @ Jeff: didn’t know. Thanks.

  5. I would absolutely read the Rifters books to my kids. If I had any. Which I don’t.

  6. I’m still sulking about waiting for the day Behemoth (in however many books they deem necessary) is printed in paperback. I really love owning books, but I really hate hard covers. I tried to email Tor, but I was thwarted.

  7. Tom Disch did describe SF as a form of children’s literature.

    But then, he did blow his brains out, what did he know.

  8. Well, it seems quite the good thing that a book written 10 years ago is resurrected in a positive book review. I happened upon “Blindsight”, and thank goodness for my science-“pre-med” biology background, altough I ended up a fine art major but a writer and resercher instead.

    I have to read “Blindsight” again for some of the hard science was a little hard for my rusty brain cells made mush by reading nature and spirituality, art and epic fantasy books.

    Blindsight was a most excellent read that spanned across several nights of reading a bit at a time in order to meanigfully absorb, and attempt to understand and visualize just what you were painting with your words. I look forward to reading the ten year old book Starfish, then.

    By the way, I also like Elizabeth Bear too.

  9. I’m not sure he intended it as bedtime reading, judging from the other blog posts. Watchmen isn’t exactly kid-friendly, either, but he mentions it a bunch. Although the Squid-esque bedtime story would pose an interesting creative challenge. “Once upon a time, there was a lonely piece of head-cheese…”

  10. … sometimes he played games. He REALLY liked to play simple games. That’s all he ever wanted to do…

  11. Greetings, Peter:
    Unfortunately, you’re not well know here in the US (I first heard of “Blindsight” on Richard Morgan’s website; both my wife and I liked it so much we read the rest of your books successively), which is probably why it took ten years. Maybe your publisher needs a new marketing person. Great books – all of them. I’m working on getting my co-workers, naval architects/marine engineers with a heavy hand n the research community, to read your stuff. Doesn’t take much effort.
    I noted some folks have trouble with the technical biology parts, but we have found you write in such a way that we (kinda) understand what you’re talking about without dragging out the scientific encyclopedia. The work flows.
    Keep it up, and thanks for the books, so far.

  12. J.R. Said:

    I only read the books in the last year, but I found them very enjoyable.

    Thank you. Although in truth, maybe “enjoyable” wasn’t always the effect I was going for…

    Phil Said:

    I would absolutely read the Rifters books to my kids. If I had any. Which I don’t.

    Good for you. 6.5 billion really is anough for one planet, don’t you think?

    London Said:
    I’m still sulking about waiting for the day Behemoth (in however many books they deem necessary) is printed in paperback. I really love owning books, but I really hate hard covers. I tried to email Tor, but I was thwarted.

    Don’t take it personally. It’s a crap shoot whether they answer my questions about such things, and I’m the fucking author.

    On the one hand, I note that Tor is describing the reissues of both Starfish and Maelstrom as part of “The Rifters Trilogy”, which would be pretty dumb marketing if they weren’t going to reissue the third volume as well (and as a single volume to boot, since they’re not calling it a “tetralogy”). On the other hand, dumb marketing by Tor is not an unheard of phenomenon, and given recent behind-the-scenes events I wouldn’t even rule out the possibility that they might scrap the last volume out of spite even if the ongoing meltdown of the publishing industry didn’t given them all the excuse they needed on purely economic grounds.

    keanani Said:

    By the way, I also like Elizabeth Bear too.

    She’s pretty cool, isn’t she?

    Jeff2 Said:

    Keep it up, and thanks for the books, so far.

    Thanks, Jeff. As for keeping it up, like pretty much everything else in this business, that pretty much depends on whether the demand is there.

    Note to self: Man, I’m really starting to hate WordPress. Still can’t get comments to thread on this fucking thing, and formatting is, if anything, worse than it was on blogger…

  13. Peter, not exactly to do with your Wired article, but I am reading Neal Asher’s Shadow of the Scorpion, and during one of Ian Cormac’s flashbacks to childhood, he mentions a “Watts Aquarium, which is named after an old Science Fiction Writer” (I will have to go back and get the specific quote).

    I can only assume it is you. Perhaps you know of this reference already? Anyways, everyone I have ever met could always use an ego boost. You are welcome.

  14. Long time lurker, first time commenting. First and foremost, thank you Mr Watts. I picked up Starfish shortly after it first came out. I read 15 pages, called and cancelled a dinner invite and took my phone off the hook. I havent been that captivated by any other book in my life. I avidly awaited the next book, then the next. I bought them all in hardcover, hot off the presses. Thank you for taking me out of our world for a time. Your stories are dark, innovative, challenging, thought provoking and intense. Someday I will encourage my children to read them all but not until both kids are a bit older :)

  15. damn…do smilies count as cutsey fucking icons? If so, I do apologize.

  16. Nah, that “cutesy fucking icons” line is a jab at Livejournal and all their twee bells and whistles. Who needs to know what my “mood” is, or what music I’m currently playing? More to the point, who cares?

    And thanks for the strokes (assuming the same “Wendy” made both the above posts). It’s nice to know the stories worked for you, and even nicer that they got you out of the real world for a bit. Although it’s not looking good when people start regarding my fiction as an escapist refuge from “our world”…

  17. Peter, your novels are simultaneously bleak and depressing and they read well. You mentioned above that there has to be demand for your novels; I’m pretty sure there is. There will always be people who like your kind of writing style. It may not be millions, but it will be many thousands. I suspect your biggest problem has always been visibility (hahaha, nice pun). Getting mentioned on boingboing would do you the world of good and get your sales climbing, methinks.

  18. In fact, I have gotten mentioned on boingboing a couple of times. It always sends my hit rate through the roof– and I’ve no doubt that the attendant publicity (along with that generated by pimpage on Scalzi’s and Cramer’s blogs) actually saved my ass as a writer, or at least staved off my extinction. Blindsight would probably have tanked otherwise.