Road Rash Day

So. Skin graft in a few hours. I’m told it’s a little like laying sod. First they take this Black & Decker belt sander to roughen up that fresh red meat I’ve been growing for the past couple of months (basically to velcroize the surface, so the new skin has some nooks and crannies to hook onto). Then they use a glorified cheese grater to scrape a Nazca Landing Strip off my outer thigh, and trowel the extracted porridgy flesh-sludge into the hole in my calf. One wound feeds another. (A second alternative would have been to use tissue donated from a second party. I put out the word, but the only one who stepped forward was Nalo Hopkinson and she’s not exactly a close color match.)

Afterward I have to remain completely immobile, lest I jar the leg and cause the grafted tissue to drop off like a clot of dead autumn leaves. I will probably be out of sorts and uncommunicative for a while.

Hopefully, though, I’ll have more pictures to share coming out the other end. I’m taking a USB stick to the hospital and will refuse anaesthesia until Dr. Beber stops stalling and hands over the necro shots from the last operation. I also intend to give him my own camera so any shots of this new procedure will not be subject to the same delay.  (I have already asked the pre-op interview medtech to pass this information on to the good doctor, but she was the same medtech that refused to allow me to drink alcohol during “Sharktopus” so I don’t know how much good that did. We’ll see.)

In the meantime, here are some pictures of a different sort to keep you occupied. “The Island” made the cover of  ESLI over in Russia (a bit more of a Stargate: Universe vibe than the retrofitted asteroid described in the story, but I like the extragalactic perspective):

Here are the covers for the Czech and/or Slovak release of Blindsight (not sure who the metal babe is supposed to represent but she looks cool), and for the upcoming Polish paperback (I actually hadn’t realized until now that the original Polish release was a hardcover):

And finally, perhaps the most unexpected cover art I’ve ever seen. This is from the Korean edition:

Make of it what you will. Siri Keeton and Susan James are pretty easy to identify, but I don’t know who the Ronald MacDonald character is supposed to represent. Sarasti’s visor isn’t obvious anywhere, but a couple of dudes are wearing shades. Chelsea, I suppose, could be the chick on her knees. Any of you think you can pick the rest of the crew out of this lineup? Anyone want to try pinning names to faces while I’m under the grater?

I’ll look forward to your thoughts when I come out the other side. Or rather, if I come out the other side. Yes, I know this is supposed to be a routine and utterly safe procedure. I know the patter well, I remember it word for word.

I heard the exact same reassurances just before a certain skin biopsy…

This entry was posted on Thursday, April 21st, 2011 at 5:10 am and is filed under Flesh-Eating Fest '11, ink on art, writing news. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

32 Responses to “Road Rash Day”

  1. Aaron

    I keep wanting to say the guy with the hat and shades is supposed to be Cunningham, but I don’t know why. And if by ‘the Ronald MacDonald character’ you mean the guy with the star on his helmet, why, I wonder if he’s not supposed to stand in for the scramblers. I have no idea why anyone would do that, but it’s the best guess I’ve got as to what the hell he’s doing there.

    Good luck with the skin transplant. I’m not sure how it helps to flay one patch in order to repave another, but apparently it does, so here’s hoping it works out well for you.

  2. Bahumat

    As far as the art goes, I *really* love the Slavic monumental architecture style applied to Rorschach (see pictures of the monuments from communist yugoslavia, wild stuff, like this:, even if inaccurate to the description in the book. That polish hardcover’s art is just gorgeous, and I think the artistic vision of Rorshach is a valid one. Lots of monsters look far less harmful in the light, after all.

  3. ScottC

    Peter, I hope your procedure goes well without incident.

    I too enjoy the Polish rendition of Rorschach. It may not be strictly accurate by the book, but I find that rendering much more interesting than the “Ball of Pubes” approach more commonly taken.

    The Korean cover is…I don’t even…I can’t…why is…yeah.

  4. TheEchoInside

    Your description of the procedure made me twitch. I have this image of you writing an episode for “House” now, and turning entire nations into quivering masses. That said, I hope you don’t die and that you come out with a healthy franken-leg.

    I like the 2nd and 3rd covers. The first one feels kind of flat to me and the fourth is… ur, it’s something. Maybe I’ll do a fanart version after I get around to the squid…

  5. Bastien

    Shit, can you imagine a Peter Watts written episode of House? Just try to picture it for a second.

    My example: a man is brought to the hospital (it’s actually lupus this time for a change) and House discovers that he has no brain. Hilarity insues.

  6. Lynn

    Wow. Have to say that Korean cover seems like it was just pulled out of someone’s ass. The others are pretty cool, though.

    I saw something recently that resembled a Scrambler’s movement. I believe it’s called a feather starfish. Creepy, yet fascinating.

    I once talked to a nurse about FED just out of curiosity years ago, and she said that if you ever have surgery, pay for them to use completely new tools. In her opinion (I say this because I’m unsure about her knowledge), if a patient with FED was operated on before you, this stuff can remain on surgical tools even after they’ve been cleaned.
    “Fuck the cost.” is what she said. If she’s right, I’d have to agree.

  7. dfodude

    Peter: there is no such thing as luck, but I hope random events break your way for the next little while.

    And the Korean cover? It’s “arty”, which I understand is how most folks think of SF&F. I remember some Stragatsky Brother covers from ‘way back when that bore no actual resemblance to the plot or characters. They were just weird and from the Tim Leary School of Cover Art..

  8. Robert

    Best of luck.

    Personally, I think it would have been kinda cool to get a donation from Nalo Hopkinson. Peter Watts as a chimera!

  9. wwienc

    Polish paperback, nice! I might buy a bunch of them and give away to friends whose English isn’t good enough for original.

    Good luck with that leg thingy!

  10. Außenseiter

    Huh. That’s a Czech release there, but it will also be sold in Slovakia – Slovak people who read can also easily read Czech (the converse is not true, though)…

  11. etranger

    The Korean cover just doesn’t seem to fit the the hard sf aspect of the book. It also seems to imply that there are a lot of characters, even though that seems the opposite of Blindsight’s claustrophobic mood. And why are some of the figures repeated? And why are they falling in the background?

    I do like the Polish cover, though. Even if its not quite the Rorschach described in the book, I think it conveys the strangeness of it much better than the American cover.

  12. Jayn Rand

    LOL @ Korean cover… so… extravagant.

    Good luck with the skin thing, Peter.

  13. Chinedum Richard Ofoegbu

    What Robert said. Good luck, get well soon, etc.

  14. Jon Smith


    Best of luck with the graft. As a side note, you should’ve accepted Nalo Hopkinson’s offer. Imagine the symbolism of that exchange. You could potentially be something out of a feminist science fiction story.

  15. ScottC

    Anyone have any news on Watts? Did he manage to make it through this time without spontaneously combusting or having his DNA spliced with a cricket? Am I going to have to break down and sully myself on Facebook for any news?

  16. Lazarian

    Guy, hope things go well for you. Hell knows you’ve been through enough.

    I think I spotted Waldo in that last pic…

  17. Tim

    No! Please no! Not another round of . . . . . FLESHFEST!!!
    The procedure you describe with the belt sander is called ‘toothing’ in my line of (wood) work. And yes, one uses a belt sander to give the substrate a ‘tooth’, which allows for a better bond with the veneer when glue is applied. It always works when I do it. But man, talk about raw nerve endings.
    Looking forward to the anecdotes and pics when you’re feeling communicative, again.

  18. Marv

    Hello. Just wanted to say I finally got polish ver. of “Starfish” (thanks for the intro Peter!). I’m glad, that polish publisher will translate whole rifters trilogy. I must say you’re my favourite hard SF writer. There is no other author with dark, badass SF stories. “Blindsight” was amazing (best damn SF I ever read).

    Gonna play Bioshock and read Starfish 😛 That music…

    Greetings from polish QFANT e-zine.

  19. Hljóðlegur

    That Nalo is alright. Peter’d have looked cool with a darker skin graft, and she’s a very good friend indeed to offer, imho.

    Hope all went well.

    Is there any hope for the nerves to reconnect, I wonder, or is the final result going to be an area of feasible skin with no sensation. I ask because I know a man who had grafts from his inner thighs to replace burned areas on the front of his legs, and there were no functional nerve endings as a result. I had a thought that maybe they had improved the technology so the injured area could have sensation. Or maybe burns are a different case? I always thought skin grafts from your own body was just a super idea, one of the more clever and useful medical inventions.

  20. Leona

    Good luck with this next op!! You’ll be right as rain eventually. It’s all taking a while, isn’t it? Sigh…

    Nalo Graft… lol…

  21. Jayn Rand

    Is there any hope for the nerves to reconnect, I wonder, or is the final result going to be an area of feasible skin with no sensation.

    Usually, the sensitivity returns, though there are a lot of variables at play there, methinks.

  22. ScottC

    I don’t have a lot of sensitivity on the surface of my skin graft. I can discern contact and feel pressure induced pain there, but it’s more on the subcutaneous level that it registers. I’ve accidentally burned myself there before because of this, when it touches a hot pan and I don’t notice it right away. But I doubt Peter will have that problem, unless he does a lot of cooking with his legs.

  23. Andrew C.

    The metal babe is Siri’s mom, interfaced with digital heaven.

    Or not.

    Bahumat – Thanks for the Slavic architecture link, I now have a new obsession.


  24. Branko Collin

    It’s like the Korean cover is this essentially meaningless image that everybody is trying to ascribe a meaning to according to their own experiences and insights.

  25. Hljóðlegur

    @ScottC – How long after the graft before you got the level of sensitivity you have now? Year or two? Or was it pretty quick?

  26. ScottC

    @ Hljóðlegur

    I’m afraid I couldn’t possibly remember. It was more than a decade ago.


    I don’t think it’s meaningless. The figure that represents Susan James is pretty unmistakable. So there is some degree of deliberation there. It’s just particularly artsy-fartsy.

    I do give it points for being the first cover to really try to do something with the more interesting human aspects of the book, rather than just parking Theseus off of Rorschach, which is a concept better imagined than illustrated.

  27. Ard

    Dear Peter,
    you forget about the Polish edition of “Starfish”. Cover is great, isn’t it? 🙂

  28. Peter Watts

    Hi Ard,

    I guess I did — I thought I’d posted the image here on the blog or over on facebook at least, but I can’t find the cover on either so I guess I didn’t. It is a wonderful cover, though; thanks for linking to it.

  29. idleprimate

    @ Hljóðlegur,

    I had a skin graft done (for a burn, so it may be different) 20 years ago. the site still has no sensation–something mosquitoes seem to know quite well.

  30. Hljóðlegur

    @idleprimate – Thanks. That’s too bad! I mean, good not to have died of a burn, I know, but, still. My burned friend, so far as I know, is in the same situation as you, decades later. If he cuts himself, he doesn’t know it.

  31. Nalo Hopkinson

    I haven’t kept up with you since our last email b/c I’m a bit under-the-weather post novel rewrite. I’m pretty sure it’s nothing contagious, just fibromyalgia flare and/or anemia, but I’ll wait until I’m more certain to come visit you. Since you’re posting again, I’m going to guess that the autograft (bad writerly pun) went okay, thank heaven. But dude! Think how cool you would have looked with a strip of my flank grafted onto your calf! And think of the graft vs. host ritual possession possibilities! Okay, that part may not have appealed to you, but as the potential possessor, it sure tickled my funny bone.

  32. ScottC

    I do think Peter kind of wussed out on the Sci-fi possibilities of becoming 1% Nalo. It sounds sort of like the premise to a 90’s Robert Downey Jr. movie, when he was on something of a host body possession kick.

    That Polish Starfish cover seems familiar…

    Hmmm. I see what he did there. He did the same thing I did, but instead made it good, with bolder contrasts, a stronger focal point, and iconic imagery. And his Beebe aperture isn’t nearly as half-assed as mine with that nasty tangent in the middle where those parallel lines overlap. Show-off.