Aurora Campbell Panoptopus.

Some of you may have noticed that Echopraxia made it onto the longest short list in SF a few weeks back: the ballot for the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel. On the plus side (for me), it’s one of those jury-selected deals, so it’s not a popularity contest like the […]

Posted in: art on ink, biology, marine, neuro, writing news by Peter Watts 20 Comments

Gendering Nemo.

With Special Opening Act, Tony Smith! What do Dune, The Road, Blindsight, Anathem, and I Am Legend all have in common? Together, they comprise The Five Worst SF Books EVER, as compiled by my buddy, Tony Smith over at Starship Sofa. Of course, this is hardly the first time Blindsight has been so honored— but […]

Squids With Tasers.

A simple experiment, a famous fish. Electric eels, shocking their prey. Nothing to see here, right? “The mechanism of the eel’s attack is unknown”, Kenneth Catania states right off the top in his new paper in Science, and I admit I shrugged and thought What’s to know? What’s so mysterious about electrocution? But it turns […]

The Heinlein Hormone

You all remember Starship Troopers, right? That slim little YA contained a number of beer-worthy ideas, but the one that really stuck with me was the idea of earned citizenship— that the only people allowed to vote, or hold public office, were those who’d proven they could put society’s interests ahead of their own. Heinlein’s […]

Posted in: biology, neuro, sociobiology by Peter Watts 33 Comments

Tick…tick…tick…

A reader going by the handle Sylvain linked me to a cool paper a few days back; it’s something I would have killed to have had back when writing Blindsight. Are you ready for this? A tick that turns its victims into vegetarians. Look to Commins et al for the peer-reviewed details; the tl;dr version […]

Posted in: biology, blindsight, scilitics by Peter Watts 12 Comments

Giving Up on Life.

The ‘crawl’s been kinda quiet lately, mainly because I am (for the second time in as many years) on the last lap of this dumb novel. I am, in fact, committed to delivering the damn thing to  Tor before I leave for FinnCon — and I’m on track to do that, if I don’t let […]

Breathing Metal

Those of you familiar with Blindsight‘s Scramblers may remember this quirk about their physiology: they didn’t keep all their metabolism on the inside. “I don’t think Rorschach’s magnetic fields are counterintrusion mechanisms at all. I think they’re part of the life-support system. I think they mediate and regulate a good chunk of scrambler metabolism… If […]

Did I Call It? Did I Call It?

So Lever et al have found something in the rocks, deep below the Pacific seabed (Source paper; supplementary materials; Wired popsci commentary). It eats inorganics, notably sulfur— (βehemoth assimilates several inorganic nutrients 26-84% more efficiently than its closest terrestrial competitors. This is especially problematic when dealing with sulfur.) —it’s an anaerobe— (“βehemoth doesn’t just predate […]

Posted in: biology, deep sea, rifters by Peter Watts 30 Comments

Lateral Transfers

The whitecap’s skin glows with a golden tan of cultured xanthophylls.  Joel’s smile grows a little more brittle.  He’s heard all about the benefits, of course. UV protection, higher blood oxygen, more energy — they say it even cuts down on your food requirements, not that any of these people have to worry about grocery […]

Posted in: biology, biotech, evolution, fiblet by Peter Watts 20 Comments

Sealing Fate

I’ve got a soft spot for seals. Back in the day I built a fair bit of my truncated biology career on the little beach maggots; Pacific harbor seals formed the very heart of my doctoral thesis, in fact (Attila, Thalidomide, and Strangway: I salute you, wherever you ended up). They even netted me a […]

Posted in: biology, marine, scilitics by Peter Watts 21 Comments