Blight Gallery

OK, so it isn’t cancer. Also not myocitis. Apparently that would’ve shown up in the several liters of blood they already sucked out of me over the past couple of weeks.

Lyme? “Well, we could test for Lyme. If you really want. You do have the symptoms, I guess…”  Not quite sure why I sensed such reluctance given that I actually meet the criteria— I felt as if she was indulging some dotty old hypochondriac— but the bottom line is, even as I type they’re testing for several strains of Lyme.  Including, apparently,  a time-traveling European variant which might be to blame even though this whole thing manifested two weeks before I went to Greece. I’m not complaining: the more comprehensive the better, far as I’m concerned. If there’s anything to this late-onset stuff I suppose I could have picked it up when I was overseas in 2014.

Neuro, though. My GP agrees that a lot of these symptoms— the weakness and tingling, sure, but even the stiffness and joint pain— are consistent with something neurological. An appointment with a specialist is in the offing. And on the one hand, Cool: neuro. I get to have my brain scanned. I get to see my own CNS mapped out like a subway system. I owe a big chunk of my career to neuro. Neuro rocks.

On the other hand, fuck: neuro.

Some really bad shit falls under that particular umbrella.  Let’s hope for Lyme. Or even something psychosomatic— after all tests to date haven’t turned up anything, beyond (presumably) the acute anemia that results from having half your blood volume siphoned away.

Anyway. Holding pattern until I see the neurologist. And of course I’ve fallen behind on The Freeze-Frame Revolution, so not a lot of time to invest in depthy blog posts right now. (Although if you read Polish, I’m thinking the next column is probably going to be about these recent Russian claims of a dolphin language. It was similar claims, after all, that got me interested in the whole marine-mammal field back in the seventies.)

So here’s some simple eye candy to plug the gap for the next little while (all available in the Gallery too, of course, at higher rez).


I can’t honestly claim that this new reissue of Starfish (by way of Paul di Filippo) improves on Bruce Jenson’s original cover art in any technical or aesthetic sense. I do, however, expect that it will result in much higher sales. At the very least, it adds a new dimension to the term “wet dream”:


In contrast, a little nightmare fuel: Rifters as Greys, courtesy of a Russian Deviant Artist going by the handle “Hokapk” (which probably translates phonetically as “Hieronymus Bosch Does Pointillist Woodcuts”).


Finally— although it can’t quite compete with the transcendent inspiration of the di Filippo piece— here’s the definitive cover art for Le Bélial’s upcoming French edition of Au-Delà du Gouffre (aka Beyond the Rift), for those of you who didn’t catch the earlier draft that showed up on facebook a few weeks back. By the legendary artist “Manchu“.  At least, I assume he’s legendary; the man’s portfolio certainly warrants it.


I like this enough to be using it as my desktop wallpaper; the design of the ship doesn’t really map on to anything  in my own oeuvre, but in a moment of prescience Manchu seems to have nailed the setting of Freeze-Frame‘s climax.

At least, I hope it was a moment of prescience. Otherwise I’d have to conclude he was channeling “Interstellar“. Which would carry, well, less-pleasant connotations.

This entry was posted on Thursday, September 29th, 2016 at 8:25 am and is filed under art on ink, misc. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

31 Responses to “Blight Gallery”

  1. Izek

    I can shamefully tell you where the “Starfish” pic comes from: it’s actually the cover to “Nautipuss”, the third installment in “The Man from Sadisto” porn novel series by prolific porn novelist Clyde Allison:

    who was the author of such classic titles as “Gamefinger” and “Have Nude, Will Travel” 😉

  2. Peter Watts


    I bet you love telling 6-year-olds the ugly truth about Santa Claus too, don’t you.

  3. George Berger

    Good luck Peter.

  4. Ted Lemon

    I think these are my favorite two comments on a Peter Watts blog ever, which probably says something about what a shallow person I am, but I don’t care! 🙂

    Best of luck with the Lyme diagnosis.

  5. DA

    Petter Watts:

    Some really bad shit falls under that particular umbrella. Let’s hope for Lyme.

    I’ve thought through a dozen different clever ways to make a joke out of “Hope you have Lyme Disease”, and I can’t do it. I’m just not that funny.

    I hope it turns out better than you fear, and that you get some solid answers soon.

  6. Michael Rosefield

    > I’ve thought through a dozen different clever ways to make a joke out of “Hope you have Lyme Disease”, and I can’t do it. I’m just not that funny.

    Don’t worry, I’m sure you’ll come up with something sharp and pithy soon, but don’t get ticked-off if you can’t.

    @Peter: stop being ill. Hope that helps!

  7. -dsr-

    Manchu is reasonably famous, anyway. (i.e. he’s one of a large handful of SF illustrators whose name I know). His main site is at

  8. AngusM

    Going by the symptoms, I think the most likely explanation is that your nervous system is being taken over by an alien slime mold (Portia sp.) Is that something that they can test for, or is it already too late for all of us?

    Joking aside, best wishes for a speedy & accurate diagnosis, and a fast recovery.

  9. Paula Johanson

    Good wishes.
    Thanks for getting the doc to do more tests. Sorry that I waved big scary neuro conditions at you. Welcome to the club of people with medical proof we actually DO have a brain, cuz it’s been scanned.
    And oi, not all neuro conditions are equally grim. It’s amazing how many of your symptoms overlap with basilar artery migraine, except you’re not a teenage female (usual sufferer).

  10. Hank Roberts

    > I get to have my brain scanned.

    Ask in advance what media they use to store the scans and tell them you plan to bring a blank one along to get a copy to take home. (Or ask when you can come by later to get a copy.)

    When I had images taken they used an obscure 5-1/4″ magneto-optical cartridge format, but used drives and blank media were dirt cheap on eBay — so I have my brain nicely presented in slices. I can even see the cataract implant I have in one eye, clearly revealed. Also no wormholes or other troubles.

    There’s public domain software out there for viewing the images.

    Hey, this was before selfies got so popular even.

    This is also a useful double-check. When I came to get a copy of my scan they were a bit confused, they found the file by searching for my SSI — except that the file with that SSI turned out to have someone else’s name and brain image. Oops. Took a while to sort that out.

    Good thing I had that recognizable cataract implant, come to think of it.

  11. Daniel

    You should take the CNS scan and have it laser etched into acrylic. Make a kick ass paperweight.

  12. Monte Davis

    Lyme is a mess — in epidemiology, symptomatology & diagnosis, treatment, and perception (both professional and public). 18 months ago I was noticing a maybe-cluster of brain fog, double vision, and episodes of radiating pain/tingling from R shoulder down through hand. As in your case, that opened many charming possibilities of a common cerebral cause… but also led to a floridly positive Western-blot result for Lyme, and a US-standard 30-day course of doxycycline. (I’m in southeastern PA, a suburb with deer wandering out of patchy woods most days — prime tick country.)

    Assorted tests ruled out the scariest diagnoses. A neurologist traced the radiating pain to a pinched nerve, and exercises alleviated that. A neuro-ophthalmologist decided the double vision was a congenital “lazy eye” for which I was finally, in my 60s, losing the ability to compensate. Multiple new glasses with prism corrections, annoying but tolerable. The brain fog continued, at length prompting me to try a longer, more intense multi-antibiotic retreatment protocol that seems to be helping.

    The mainstream infectious-disease view is that the spring 2015 treatment should have done all we reliably know how to do against B. burgdorferi, and the symptom cluster was probably deceptive — or if not, that residual symptoms are aftermath rather than active infection. I can persuade myself of that.

    The chronic-Lyme view is that I’d almost certainly had it some months if not years before the test (giving it time to entrench in ill-perfused places); that the coincidence in time of all the symptoms was more than suspicious; and that extended treatment and “immune boosting” (to the extent one believes in that) may help vision as well as cognitive symptoms. I can persuade myself of that, too.

  13. Sheila


    Check out this brain art.

    The artist’s page is here. There is a video somewhere demonstrating the beauty and utility of the work. Different slants of light reveal different sections of the brain.

  14. Sheila

    I thought I saw a site where people could upload brain images for sharing data, but I can’t find it. my bookmarking skills, alas.

    I did find some other cool things in my brain bookmarks while searching. including some opensource data sets along with open source brain viewing stuff. from these folks

    It looks like the datasets are in a format called nil.

  15. Gary Flood


    1 Good that those things are ruled out. Bad you are still waiting. Something tells me we are getting nearer to some kind of answer?

    2 Did I miss an episode or two? Is ‘The Freeze-Frame Revolution’ one of your in-jokes with us all or the name of your next writing project?

    3 Take your mind off this by watching some digital content and giving us a hyper-intelligent, scabrous review of it. Please?

    Best of luck. You’ve got this.

  16. Bess

    Have you already had an EMG performed?
    (I’m a doctor and a fan, we want to keep you in good writing order!)

  17. Phil

    I have no advice to give, just my sincere hope that whatever’s ailing you clears up soon, either on its own or through a correct diagnosis and treatment. I’m glad to hear it’s abated somewhat since your last post, anyway. That sounded fucking worrying. Get well, man.

  18. Patrick

    [French here] Manchu art has been consistently awesome for more than twenty years. I can still visualize the covers of Riverworld, Consider Phlebas or Permutation City, I read when I was a teenager. Nice to see him working on your books and kudos to Belial for publishing them.

    Be well.

  19. Trent

    Maybe the flesh eating disease you contracted some years back did something to your body that’s only now kicked in?

    Either way, we all wish you and your family the best. Be strong. You beat a flesh eating monster, you’ll beat this.

  20. Greggles

    I never thought I’d cheer on a bunch of blood-sucking parasitic vampire insects, but here’s hoping it’s Lyme’s.

    As far as the brain scan is concerned. I’m sure with some clever reformatting of the files you can 3D print yours out at the TPS. Or better yet, there are 3D printers that use CHOCOLATE and you can serve it up at holidays, birthdays &tc.

  21. MikeS

    Scans usually come in a DICOM format, which is an ISO standard with free viewing software available online. Essentially it embeds the metadata like date and patient name to prevent John Howard vs. Howard Johns mix ups.

    Your doctor should be able to give you any scans on a disk or USB stick (or at least they will in the UK if you ask nicely, but NHS etc.)

  22. Kaj Sotala

    I don’t have anything intelligent to add to the various diagnoses being suggested to you, but I’ll just add my sympathies and wishes of you getting better. I can’t coalesce with your brain one day if it’s not in a good enough shape at that time!

  23. Paul Kinsky

    First, those covers are amazing. Glad to hear you’ve ruled out at least some of the worse cases.

    This may seem a bit crunchy granola, but have you tried checking things out at the mechanical level with a deep-tissue massage therapist? I don’t expect this to fix whatever the underlying issue is, but having someone take a quick look at the tensegrity structure that is your musculoskeletal system to confirm that nothing’s wildly over-tensioned might help (apologies if you’ve already tried this).

    (I know you said you exercise regularly, but I didn’t see any specific mention of yoga or any other flexibility-focused practice so this seems like a possibility that might be worth checking out)

  24. Ben

    Peter, have they considered you might have axial/spinal gout? Gout comes on suddenly followed by remission: apparently it can happen in the spine and the crystals press on the spinal cord and cause “acute back pain, radiculopathy [nerve problems], and frank cord compression”:

    Sounds like it might explain your symptoms? Gout is inflammatory and you said the tests came back with no inflammation, but maybe localised inflammation just in the spine (and possibly joints like your knees), rather than a systemic process, wouldn’t show up in the tests they did?

    Apparently you may not have elevated uric acid even if it is gout, but worth checking if they’ve tested that and if not, getting tested. They should also be able to see it in an MRI/CT scan of your spine

    If it is gout, NSAIDs should help in a future attack.

    I’m not a doctor, this is a wild-ass guess based on somebody I know having non-spinal gout and me putting two and two together, probably to make five, but spinal gout is rare and can end up in paralysis, so just want to make sure it’s been eliminated!

  25. Guildenstern42


    Nothing witty to add; I’m just relieved to hear that it’s not cancer and hopeful that it turns out to be something treatable. Good luck, man. We’re all pulling for you.

  26. radiant

    Apropos of nothing, another video about how bad video games can get.

  27. dhlight

    Ben, Just thought that I would mention that, if Ben is on to something, they have good meds for gout now. I had the beginning of gout onset & it cleared right up.

  28. Leona


    Good luck with the tests and here’s hoping it’s NOT neuro..

  29. Michael Carradice

    All the best of luck with the tests. Whatever the condition turns out to be, keep making people think. You are awfully good at that.

  30. Mr Non-Entity

    Perhaps a bit off topic, and perhaps not by all that much, Dr Watts is a member of a two clubs, one being the people who have suffered from necrotizing fasciitis, and the other club being those who have survived NF.

    I realize that, as regards posting links full of optimism, I may be “failing to read the room”, but here’s an example of someone who was really lucky to pull through at all, yet who has gone on to a level of “personal best” perhaps exceeding anything they did before their brush with death. I hope Our Gracious Host will have the same sort of recovery to “better than ever” as we see from the recent history of Aimee Copeland.

    Cheers and “get well soon”,

  31. Sheila

    I hope Peter or someone can post an update soon. I’ve been watching the feed for more news.