Posted by: GravatarWon'tDeleteMyAccount | December 12, 2008

Peter Watts: Maelstrom and βehemoth

Today’s post is about two books, both by Peter Watts, author of the previously mentioned Starfish, the first book in what became the Rifter Trilogy. I have to say that I am so impressed by the size of this man’s brain that I’m nearly beyond words. I’m not a scientist (indeed far from it, I’m a medieval linguist) but given his detailed explanations of the science behind each of the major ideas in these books, I’m inclined to believe it when he says that a lot of what goes on in the science of these books is possible, even plausible.

I started reading βehemoth first, because I’m a dunce. I got about halfway through (a remarkable feat in itself, I suppose, which suggests to me that each of these books could stand alone) before kicking myself for reading the books out of order. The website at gives you a lovely little timeline of his books, and I apparently missed that.

So without giving any of the plot away, partially because I would feel a little ridiculous trying to Coles-Notes a book with so many ideas in it, here are some of the incredibly cool concepts found in these two books:

– A sub-cellular organism, long dormant at the bottom of the ocean, that goes by the name of βehemoth, which, because of its unique attributes, has the ability to out-compete every other living thing on earth for the nutrients it needs. This, of course, is bad.

– Hard-vacuum-filled airships. Blimps are always cool.

– A very complicated and evolving computer program that begins its life as a computer porn spam bot, and has a love-hate relationship with a certain rifter.

– A cocktail of alterations to brain chemistry that makes you serve The Greater Good, and another one to make you feel better after you’ve done all the horrible things that requires.

– Sudbury as a cool place to live. And a place called Toromilton.

There’s plenty more, but you’ll get bored if I keep going.

So here’s a better idea: read them yourself. If you like hard sci-fi, or hell, even if you don’t, read these books. Start with Starfish and then you’ll have to read the other two. You won’t have the option of not reading them. That’s how good they are. Do it. Now. >__<

I also recommend paying the author and feeding the cat! ^___^

They’re released under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 license.

Keep reading, Keeep writing.



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