"Sci-fi Adventure, Emphasis on the Sci..."
Reviewed by Ashleigh Compton
Posted December 17, 2014
Science Fiction Suspense/Thriller
The future is ugly. The Ascended are in Heaven, a
technological paradise for those who want to embrace the
better promises of the future. Augmented minds are the
norm and daily medical advancements are par for the
course. Vampires and zombies surround the landscape,
terrorizing those who know enough to be scared. Daniel
Brüks is a biologist who is in the wrong place at the
wrong time. While escaping from militarized zombies, he
is taken in by a group of scientists and Bicameral monks
who are on their way to space in order to protect the
Bicamerals. Brüks is the only one who doesn't know
what's going on throughout the whole journey; all he
knows is that he's on a ship with people who look down on
him, a vampire who has it in for him, and the wife of a
victim of an accident he caused many years ago...This
journey into the future on the fascinating Crown of
Thorns is known simply as Peter Watts' ECHOPRAXIA.
Throughout all of ECHOPRAXIA, I was expecting a
moment of clarity, a moment when it would all make sense.
It never came. There is definitely a lot of social
commentary and criticism to be gleaned, but I never was
sure what exactly Peter Watts wanted to say. I'm not sure
what kind of man Daniel Brüks is and whether I like him
or agree with his statements at all. The science is so
complex that I have no idea what is going on at the best
of times. Even after reading the convenient schematics
and reports on the scientific elements included, I was
not entirely sure which end was up.
The action sequences do get the blood running
even if you're not sure who is fighting who and who is
winning. Watts is a very powerful action writer,
especially considering all the amazing terminology he has
to weave into the scenes. You definitely understand
through his prose the seriousness and the consequences of
every action taken. Daniel Brüks in particular is very
captivating; we see the whole of his story through his
eyes and yet we realize slowly with him that we
understand nothing of the crew of the Crown of Thorns.
The twists and turns really keep the heart beating
through the whole novel.
The most fascinating relationships are those
between Daniel Brüks and his female comrades.
Refreshingly enough, none of these are romantic
relationships. Instead, they are three varying levels of
platonic friendship. Valerie the vampire is aloof and
frightening, only friendly by virtue of the fact that she
is not a threat. Sengupta is an angry pilot who does not
like Brüks but who warms up to him slowly and believably.
Lianna and Brüks have probably the closest association in
the book, as they both like each other and see each other
as equals. As far as the personalities of the other
characters, they are fairly flat and interchangeable.
Colonel Jim Moore has probably the most motivation for
success, but otherwise he lends himself to stereotype.
ECHOPRAXIA is a wild ride. I would say jump right into
it. If nothing else, you will enjoy the friendships and
twists and turns in the story. The prose is beautiful and
most of the characters are relatable. The science
elements are really heavy and sometimes difficult to skim
through, but with a little time (and a lot of patience)
your effort will be rewarded in the final thrilling
Prepare for a different kind of singularity in Peter Watts'
Echopraxia, the 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.
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