Peter Watts is the Hugo-winning Canadian author of Blindsight, described by The Globe and Mail as, “a hard science fiction writer through and through and one of the very best alive,” which is a reputation he has lived up to among fans of hard science fiction. Through their Spring/Summer catalog, Tor has revealed details about Echopraxia, his first novel since 2006.
Prepare for a different kind of singularity in this follow-up to the Hugo-nominated novel Blindsight.
It’s the eve of the twenty-second century: a world where the dearly departed send postcards back from Heaven and evangelicals make scientific breakthroughs by speaking in tongues; where genetically engineered vampires solve problems intractable to baseline humans and soldiers come with zombie switches that shut off self-awareness during combat. And it’s all under surveillance by an alien presence that refuses to show itself.
Daniel Bruks is a living fossil: a field biologist in a world where biology has turned computational, a cat’s-paw used by terrorists to kill thousands. Taking refuge in the Oregon desert, he’s turned his back on a humanity that shatters into strange new subspecies with every heartbeat. But he awakens one night to find himself at the center of a storm that will turn all of history inside-out.
Now he’s trapped on a ship bound for the center of the solar system. To his left is a grief-stricken soldier, obsessed by whispered messages from a dead son. To his right is a pilot who hasn’t yet found the man she’s sworn to kill on sight. A vampire and its entourage of zombie bodyguards lurk in the shadows behind. And dead ahead, a handful of rapture-stricken monks takes them all to a meeting with something they will only call “The Angels of the Asteroids.”
Their pilgrimage brings Dan Bruks, the fossil man, face-to-face with the biggest evolutionary breakpoint since the origin of thought itself.
Before becoming a writer, Watts acquired a PhD in Zoology and Resource Ecology from the University of British Columbia, which makes me even more curious to see that Echopraxia appears to deal with the merging of biology and technology. Watts is known as one of the best authors at weaving intelligent scientific exploration and debate into the narratives of his story, and everything about the synopsis for Echopraxia tugs at my interests. Peter Watts can be trusted with big ideas, and Echopraxia appears to be full of them.
Watts’ most famous novel, Blindsight had, erm… less than inspiring cover art, so it’s nice to see Tor giving him the attention that a writer of his calibre deserves. There’s an obvious similarity to covers for James S.A. Corey’s enormously popular Expanse trilogy, but the clean typography separates the two and also brings to mind Tor’s equally impressive work on the John Harris covers for John C. Wright’s Count to the Eschaton Sequence. I’m not sure how anyone could pass this book in a bookstore and not pick it up.