Starfish

Starfish

by Peter Watts

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Overview

A huge international corporation has developed a facility along the Juan de Fuca Ridge at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean to exploit geothermal power. They send a bio-engineered crew--people who have been altered to withstand the pressure and breathe the seawater--down to live and work in this weird, fertile undersea darkness.

Unfortunately the only people suitable for long-term employment in these experimental power stations are crazy, some of them in unpleasant ways. How many of them can survive, or will be allowed to survive, while worldwide disaster approaches from below?

Starfish, the first installment in Peter Watts' Rifters Trilogy

At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781466881150
Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date: 09/16/2014
Series: Rifters Trilogy , #1
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 44,627
File size: 376 KB

About the Author

Peter Watts is the author of Starfish, and he currently lives in Toronto, Ontario.


Peter Watts is a former marine biologist and the Hugo and Nebula nominated author of novels such as Starfish, Maelstrom and Behemoth, and numerous short stories. He has been called "a hard science fiction writer through and through and one of the very best alive" by The Globe and Mail and whose work the New York Times called "seriously paranoid."

Read an Excerpt

Starfish


By Peter Watts, David G. Hartwell

Tom Doherty Associates

Copyright © 1999 Peter Watts
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4668-8115-0



CHAPTER 1

BENTHOS


DUET

CONSTRICTOR


When the lights go out in Beebe Station, you can hear the metal groan.

Lenie Clarke lies on her bunk, listening. Overhead, past pipes and wires and eggshell plating, three kilometers of black ocean try to crush her. She feels the rift underneath, tearing open the seabed with strength enough to move a continent. She lies there in that fragile refuge and she hears Beebe's armor shifting by microns, hears its seams creak not quite below the threshold of human hearing. God is a sadist on the Juan de Fuca Ridge, and His name is Physics.

How did they talk me into this? she wonders. Why did I come down here? But she already knows the answer.

She hears Ballard moving out in the corridor. Clarke envies Ballard. Ballard never screws up, always seems to have her life under control. She almost seems happy down here.

Clarke rolls off her bunk and fumbles for a switch. The cubby floods with dismal light. Pipes and access panels crowd the wall beside her; aesthetics run a distant second to functionality when you're three thousand meters down. She turns and catches sight of a slick black amphibian in the bulkhead mirror.

It still happens, occasionally. She can sometimes forget what they've done to her.

It takes a conscious effort to feel the machines lurking where her left lung used to be. She's so acclimated to the chronic ache in her chest, to that subtle inertia of plastic and metal as she moves, that she's scarcely aware of them anymore. She can still feel the memory of what it was to be fully human, and mistake that ghost for honest sensation.

Such respites never last. There are mirrors everywhere in Beebe; they're supposed to increase the apparent size of one's personal space. Sometimes Clarke shuts her eyes to hide from the reflections forever being thrown back at her. It doesn't help. She clenches her lids and feels the corneal caps beneath them, covering her eyes like smooth white cataracts.

She climbs out of her cubby and moves along the corridor to the lounge. Ballard is waiting there, dressed in a diveskin and the usual air of confidence.

Ballard stands up. "Ready to go?"

"You're in charge," Clarke says.

"Only on paper." Ballard smiles. "No pecking order down here, Lenie. As far as I'm concerned, we're equals." After two days on the rift, Clarke is still surprised by the frequency with which Ballard smiles. Ballard smiles at the slightest provocation. It doesn't always seem real.

Something hits Beebe from the outside.

Ballard's smile falters. They hear it again; a wet, muffled thud through the station's titanium skin.

"It takes awhile to get used to," Ballard says, "doesn't it?"

And again.

"I mean, that sounds big. ..."

"Maybe we should turn the lights off," Clarke suggests. She knows they won't. Beebe's exterior floodlights burn around the clock, an electric campfire pushing back the darkness. They can't see it from inside — Beebe has no windows — but somehow they draw comfort from the knowledge of that unseen fire —

Thud!

— Most of the time.

"Remember back in training?" Ballard says over the sound. "When they told us that the fish were usually so — small. ..."

Her voice trails off. Beebe creaks slightly. They listen for a while. There's no other sound.

"It must've gotten tired," Ballard says. "You'd think they'd figure it out." She moves to the ladder and climbs downstairs.

Clarke follows her, a bit impatiently. There are sounds in Beebe that worry her far more than the futile attack of some misguided fish. Clarke can hear tired alloys negotiating surrender. She can feel the ocean looking for a way in. What if it finds one? The whole weight of the Pacific could drop down and turn her into jelly. Any time.

Better to face it outside, where she knows what's coming. All she can do in here is wait for it to happen.


* * *

Going outside is like drowning, once a day.

Clarke stands facing Ballard, diveskin sealed, in an airlock that barely holds both of them. She has learned to tolerate the forced proximity; the glassy armor on her eyes helps a bit. Fuse seals, check headlamp, test injector ... The ritual takes her, step by reflexive step, to that horrible moment when she awakens the machines sleeping within her, and changes.

When she catches her breath, and loses it.

When a vacuum opens, somewhere in her chest, that swallows the air she holds. When her remaining lung shrivels in its cage, and her guts collapse; when myoelectric demons flood her sinuses and middle ears with isotonic saline. When every pocket of internal gas disappears in the time it takes to draw a breath.

It always feels the same. The sudden, overwhelming nausea; the narrow confines of the airlock holding her erect when she tries to fall; seawater churning on all sides. Her face goes under; vision blurs, then clears as her corneal caps adjust.

She collapses against the walls and wishes she could scream. The floor of the airlock drops away like a gallows. Lenie Clarke falls writhing into the abyss.


* * *

They come out of the freezing darkness, headlights blazing, into an oasis of sodium luminosity. Machines grow everywhere at the Throat, like metal weeds. Cables and conduits spiderweb across the seabed in a dozen directions. The main pumps stand over twenty meters high, a regiment of submarine monoliths fading from sight on either side. Overhead floodlights bathe the jumbled structures in perpetual twilight.

They stop for a moment, hands resting on the line that guided them here.

"I'll never get used to it," Ballard grates in a caricature of her usual voice.

Clarke glances at her wrist thermistor. "Thirty-four Centigrade." The words buzz, metallic, from her larynx. It feels so wrong to talk without breathing.

Ballard lets go of the rope and launches herself into the light. After a moment, breathless, Clarke follows.

There's so much power here, so much wasted strength. Here the continents themselves do ponderous battle. Magma freezes; seawater boils; the very floor of the ocean is born by painful centimeters each year. Human machinery does not make energy, here at the Throat — it merely hangs on and steals some insignificant fraction of it back to the mainland.

Clarke flies through canyons of metal and rock, and knows what it is to be a parasite. She looks down. Shellfish the size of boulders, crimson worms three meters long crowd the seabed between the machines. Legions of bacteria, hungry for sulfur, lace the water with milky veils.

The water fills with a sudden terrible cry.

It doesn't sound like a scream. It sounds as though a great harp-string is vibrating in slow motion. But Ballard is screaming, through some reluctant interface of flesh and metal:

"LENIE —"

Clarke turns in time to see her own arm disappear into a mouth that seems impossibly huge.

Teeth like scimitars clamp down on her shoulder. Clarke stares into a scaly black face half a meter across. Some tiny, dispassionate part of her searches for eyes in that monstrous fusion of spines and teeth and gnarled flesh, and fails. How can it see me? she wonders.

Then the pain reaches her.

She feels her arm being wrenched from its socket. The creature thrashes, shaking its head back and forth, trying to tear her into chunks. Every tug sets her nerves screaming.

She goes limp. Please get it over with if you're going to kill me just please God make it quick — She feels the urge to vomit, but the 'skin over her mouth and her own collapsed insides won't let her.

She shuts out the pain. She's had plenty of practice. She pulls inside, abandoning her body to ravenous vivisection; and from far away she feels the twisting of her attacker grow suddenly erratic. There's another creature at her side, with arms and legs and a knife — you know, a knife, like the one you've got strapped to your leg and completely forgot about —and suddenly the monster is gone, its grip broken.

Clarke tells her neck muscles to work. It's like operating a marionette. Her head turns. She sees Ballard locked in combat with something as big as she is. Only — Ballard is tearing it to pieces, with her bare hands. Its icicle teeth splinter and snap. Dark ice-water courses from its wounds, tracing mortal convulsions with smoke-trails of suspended gore.

The creature spasms weakly. Ballard pushes it away. A dozen smaller fish dart into the light and begin tearing at the carcass. Photophores along their sides flash like frantic rainbows.

Clarke watches from the other side of the world. The pain in her side keeps its distance, a steady, pulsing ache. She looks; her arm is still there. She can even move her fingers without any trouble. I've had worse, she thinks.

Then: Why am I still alive?

Ballard appears at her side; her lens-covered eyes shine like photophores themselves.

"Jesus Christ," Ballard says in a distorted whisper. "Lenie? You okay?"

Clarke dwells on the inanity of the question for a moment. But surprisingly, she feels intact. "Yeah."

And if not, she knows, it's her own damn fault. She just lay there. She just waited to die. She was asking for it.

She's always asking for it.


* * *

Back in the airlock, the water recedes around them. And within them: Clarke's stolen breath, released at last, races back along visceral channels, reinflating lung and gut and spirit.

Ballard splits the face seal on her 'skin and her words tumble into the wetroom. "Jesus. Jesus! I don't believe it! My God, did you see that thing? They get so huge around here!" She passes her hands across her face; her corneal caps come off, milky hemispheres dropping from enormous hazel eyes. "And to think they're usually just a few centimeters long ..."

She starts to strip down, splitting her 'skin along the forearms, talking the whole time. "And yet it was almost fragile, you know? Hit it hard enough, and it just came apart! Jesus!" Ballard always removes her uniform indoors. Clarke suspects she'd rip the recycler out of her own thorax if she could, throw it in a corner with the 'skin and the eyecaps until the next time it was needed.

Maybe she's got her other hung in her cabin, Clarke muses. Maybe she keeps it in a jar, and she stuffs it back into her chest at night ...

She feels a bit dopey; probably just an aftereffect of the neuroinhibitors her implants put out whenever she's outside. Small price to pay to keep my brain from shorting out — I really shouldn't mind. ...

Ballard peels her 'skin down to the waist. Just under her left breast, the electrolyzer intake pokes out through her rib cage.

Clarke stares vaguely at that perforated disk in Ballard's flesh. The ocean goes into us there, she thinks. The old knowledge seems newly significant, somehow. We suck it into us and steal its oxygen and spit it out again.

Prickly numbness is spreading, leaking through her shoulder into her chest and neck. Clarke shakes her head, once, to clear it.

She sags suddenly, against the hatchway.

Am I in shock? Am I fainting?

"I mean —" Ballard stops, looks at Clarke with an expression of sudden concern. "Jesus, Lenie. You look terrible. You shouldn't have told me you were okay if you weren't."

The tingling reaches the base of Clarke's skull. "I'm ... fine," she says. "Nothing broke. I'm just bruised."

"Garbage. Take off your 'skin."

Clarke straightens, with effort. The numbness recedes a bit. "It's nothing I can't take care of myself."

Don't touch me. Please don't touch me.

Ballard steps forward without a word and unseals the 'skin around Clarke's forearm. She peels back the material and exposes an ugly purple bruise. She looks at Clarke with one raised eyebrow.

"Just a bruise," Clarke says. "I'll take care of it, really. Thanks anyway." She pulls her hand away from Ballard's ministrations.

Ballard looks at her for a moment. She smiles ever so slightly.

"Lenie," she says, "there's no need to feel embarrassed."

"About what?"

"You know. Me having to rescue you. You going to pieces when that thing attacked. It was perfectly understandable. Most people have a rough time adjusting. I'm just one of the lucky ones."

Right. You've always been one of the lucky ones, haven't you? I know your kind, Ballard, you've never failed at anything

"You don't have to feel ashamed about it," Ballard reassures her.

"I don't," Clarke says honestly. She doesn't feel much of anything anymore. Just the tingling. And the tension. And a vague sort of wonder that she's even alive.


* * *

The bulkhead is sweating.

The deep sea lays icy hands on the metal and, inside, Clarke watches the humid atmosphere bead and run down the wall. She sits rigid on her bunk under dim fluorescent light, every wall of the cubby within easy reach. The ceiling is too low. The room is too narrow. She feels the ocean compressing the station around her.

And all I can do is wait. ...

The anabolic salve on her injuries is warm and soothing. Clarke probes the purple flesh of her arm with practiced fingers. The diagnostic tools in the Med cubby have vindicated her. She's lucky, this time: bones intact, epidermis unbroken. She seals up her 'skin, hiding the damage.

She shifts on the pallet, turns to face the inside wall. Her reflection stares back at her through eyes like frosted glass. She watches the image, admires its perfect mimicry of each movement. Flesh and phantom move together, bodies masked, faces neutral.

That's me, she thinks. That's what I look like now. She tries to read what lies behind, that glacial facade. Am I bored, horny, upset? How to tell, with her eyes hidden behind those corneal opacities? She sees no trace of the tension she always feels. I could be terrified. I could be pissing in my 'skin, and no one would know.

She leans forward. The reflection comes to meet her. They stare at each other, white to white, ice to ice. For a moment, they almost forget Beebe's ongoing war against pressure. For a moment, they don't mind the claustrophobic solitude that grips them.

How many times, Clarke wonders, have I wanted eyes as dead as these?


* * *

Beebe's metal viscera crowd the corridor beyond Clarke's cubby. She can barely stand erect. A few steps bring her into the lounge.

Ballard, back in shirtsleeves, is at one of the library terminals. "Rickets," she says.

"What?"

"Fish down here don't get enough trace elements. They're rotten with deficiency diseases. Doesn't matter how fierce they are. They bite too hard, they break their teeth on us."

Clarke stabs buttons on the food processor; the machine grumbles at her touch. "I thought there was all sorts of food at the rift. That's why things got so big."

"There's a lot of food. Just not very good quality."

A vaguely edible lozenge of sludge oozes from the processor onto Clarke's plate. She eyes it for a moment. I can relate.

"You're going to eat in your gear?" Ballard asks, as Clarke sits down at the lounge table.

Clarke blinks at her. "Yeah. Why?"

"Oh, nothing. It would just be nice to talk to someone with pupils in their eyes, you know?"

"Sorry. I can take them off if you —"

"No, it's no big thing. I can live with it." Ballard turns off the library and sits down across from Clarke. "So, how do you like the place so far?"

Clarke shrugs and keeps eating.

"I'm glad we're only down here for a year," Ballard says. "This place could get to you after a while."

"It could be worse."

"Oh, I'm not complaining. I was looking for a challenge, after all. What about you?"

"Me?"

"What brings you down here? What are you looking for?"

Clarke doesn't answer for a moment. "I don't know, really," she says at last. "Privacy, I guess."

Ballard looks up. Clarke stares back, her face neutral.

"Well, I'll leave you to it, then," Ballard says pleasantly.

Clarke watches her disappear down the corridor. She hears the sound of a cubby hatch hissing shut.

Give it up, Ballard, she thinks. I'm not the sort of person you really want to know.


* * *

Almost start of the morning shift. The food processor disgorges Clarke's breakfast with its usual reluctance. Ballard, in Communications, is just getting off the phone. A moment later she appears in the hatchway.

"Management says —" She stops. "You've got blue eyes."

Clarke smiles faintly. "You've seen them before."

"I know. It's just kind of surprising, it's been awhile since I've seen you without your caps in."

Clarke sits down with her breakfast. "So, what does Management say?"

"We're on schedule. Rest of the crew comes down in three weeks, we go online in four." Ballard sits down across from Clarke. "I wonder sometimes why we're not online right now."

"I guess they just want to be sure everything works."

"Still, it seems like a long time for a dry run. And you'd think that ... well, that they'd want to get the geothermal program up and running as fast as possible, after all that's happened."


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Starfish by Peter Watts, David G. Hartwell. Copyright © 1999 Peter Watts. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Contents

TITLE PAGE,
COPYRIGHT NOTICE,
DEDICATION,
PRELUDE: CERATIUS,
BENTHOS,
DUET: CONSTRICTOR,
A Niche,
Housecleaning,
ROME: NEOTENOUS,
Elevator Boy,
Crush,
Autoclave,
Waterbed,
Doppelgänger,
Angel,
Feral,
Shadow,
BALLET: DANCER,
Short-circuit,
Critical Mass,
NEKTON,
DRYBACK: JUMP-START,
Muckraker,
Scream,
Bulrushes,
Ghosts,
SEINE: ENTROPY,
Carousel,
Ecdysis,
Alibis,
QUARANTINE: BUBBLE,
Enema,
Turncoat,
HEAD CHEESE: THEME AND VARIATION,
Ground Zero,
Software,
Racter,
ENDGAME: NIGHT SHIFT,
Scatter,
Reptile,
Skyhop,
Floodlight,
Sunrise,
Jericho,
Detritus,
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS,
REFERENCES,
TOR BOOKS BY PETER WATTS,
PRAISE FOR STARFISH,
COPYRIGHT,

Customer Reviews

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Starfish (Rifters Series #1) 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 21 reviews.
hobblinharry More than 1 year ago
At 23 years old, I have maybe read 7 books for pleasure, and that's a stretch. I recently decided to start reading on a regular basis, and this book was recommended to me. If I knew books like this existed, I would have been a reader my whole life. From the first sentence to the last sentence in the book, it draws you in. The characters are fascinating and the plot is like something I have never encountered before. I guess, if you are into SciFi, this is a good book to read.
DocAG More than 1 year ago
Think "Fight Club" meets "The Abyss" meets "Sphere" and you'll just be starting to get what this book's about. Tyler Durden would've fit in just fine here. This book is one of the most original concepts I've read in a science fiction book in a long time. This book is more about the state of the human race than about cool techno gadgets. If you're prepared to delve into the darker side of human nature, you'll get a kick out of this one. Do yourself a favor, read the last page and play the song "Where is my mind?" by The Pixies.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Starfish delivers a captivating tale. I find it a plausible glimpse into our not so distant future. I was intrigued as well as a bit terrified of Watts depiction of human beings bio engineered to live on the ocean floor. Terrified, because I placed myself within the characters shoes and I struggled to determine how I would retain my sanity constantly hearing the overwhelming pressure of the hand of the ocean trying to crush my undersea habitat and swimming in total darkness with monsters attracted by the slightest amount of light. Watts covered all bases by coming up with a believable explanation of how people could face these undersea dangers and still remain 'sane'. Add to that not one but two world ending threats as a cliffhanger and you have the makings of a great book. I loved it. Euftis Emery Author of Off the Chain
slothman on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It's the mid-21st century, and humanity needs sources of energy that don't exacerbate global warming. One excellent spot for geothermal energy is the deep sea rifts where the continental plates meet. But if you have trouble finding mentally healthy people who want to be heavily cyborged to survive down there, what do you do? Get some dysfunctional folk instead!Watts capably depicts a not-terribly-pleasant future where the cyborged “rifters” cope with their lives in the deep sea and the machinations of the corporation that employes them-- and suddenly seems to consider them expendable.
Caragen87 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Ugly, dark and rivetting. Future corporate Dystopia at its most seductive worst. But most of all, the story of revelation told from the bottom of an undersea trench by a crew of intentionally and unpleasantly unbalanced mental cases. This book is a shadowy psychological play about deep, ugly secrets and necessities and the uncovering of a corporate plan of cold global expediency in the effort to effect survival.
endersreads on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was drawn to Watt's Starfish because I have a deep-rooted Lovecraftian fear of the deeps--the ocean--water. I most certainly was not disappointed and am proud of my luck in finding this author all on my own. The severely damaged group of rifters--made up of rapists, psychotics, the abused, et cetera--that the GA corporation has hired to man the Beebe station, 3 kilometers under the pacific ocean on the edge of a volcano, where local sea life has a bad case of giantism; I would have fit well into. Lenie Clarke's story is both dark and beautiful. Watts gives us a lot to ponder on here, from smart gels to the secret agendas of corporatism, to the activation of Lenie Clarke--revolution held within a single biological containment unit. Dont miss Watt's Maelstrom, Behemoth, and Blindsight!
KevlarRelic on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read this book in two sittings, unintentionally. It just sucked me in. I liked the messed up rifters, I liked the freakish deep water monsters (true to life), I liked the hopeless humanity present in all the characters. I also loved Blindsight by the same author. I think I will read all his other books now, available for free on the author's website. Oh, and I read this book on my laptop after downloading it from the site. Not my preferred method of reading ebooks, but a testament to the suck-u-in-ness of the novel. Good stuff. You should read it.
etimme on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In contrast to his later work, Starfish was meek in its speculative elements and a bit rough in its story (what a surprise). That's not to say that there aren't a lot of things to love -* Neural networks not learning what we think we are teaching them* Humans modified and grafted with metal to survive under the ocean* Thermal vents providing a solution to the world's power crisis* Life experiences conditioning you to survive some environments (anti-socials surviving better in isolation)* Mitigating the risk of a huge quake off the California coast using a nuke* Addiction to isolationLike Blindsight, this is a mostly "one room" story from a few viewpoints. I thought some chapters were less effective than others (Gerry Fischer), but the story found its pace when it concentrated more on Lenie's experiences.So, a great story, but more of something to get through on your way to Maelstrom.
crazybatcow on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What an excellent surprise. I picked this up after reading Blindsight (also very good, though a bit more cerebral).It's a science fiction novel that is set underwater, rather than in space, and has "cyborg-like" enhancements as the only really "scifi" component - otherwise the entire premise is completely feasible (and believable). Oh, right, the artificial intelligence component is on the edge too, but perhaps it's not as far off as we think?It's sort of an exploration of human nature, isolation modification, and deep-sea environmentalism. With, of course, the obligatory "bad-guy" of big business/corporations/"them".The characters grow on you, even though we're not really supposed to like them and the story keeps you reading even though nothing really happens. It ends without resolution (a.k.a the point isn't really explained and the good guys are not even identified, let alone avenged), but it is a trilogy so maybe the next book will satisfy our need for justice.
tcgardner on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Another, "What makes us human?" book. Not a lot going on. A lot of human interaction and introspection. I get the themes of the book. I just did not find the themes, characters, and plot interesting. I finished the book, but I really did not feel like I enjoyed it afterward. Just sort of slogged through it.Can't really recommend it heartily. Now, other folks have rated the book highly. I do not see it. It was just ok.
fiverivers on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
When reading I find it difficult to overcome the editor, the cynic, the person sitting there blue pencil in hand ready to pounce on clumsy characterization and phraseology, implausible premise and plotting.Happily, Peter Watts, author of Starfish, put that editor and cynic to sleep, so that for the first time in several novels I was drawn in and engaged. It is a dark, inner world into which Watts calls us, made chilling by his choice of a cool, third person point of view. I found myself immersed, indeed overwhelmed, by the pressures of the deep sea, by the pressures of living with your own psychosis let alone the psychosis of others, and Watts' use of metaphor in the outer world reflecting the inner is subtle, compelling, and utterly convincing. There were a few moments dissemination of scientific information interfered with the narrative flow, but those moments were, thankfully short and not enough to completely arrest the action. My only other complaint was the ending begs a sequel, which perhaps is the intent. As a stand-alone novel, however, Starfish does not satisfactorily conclude all plot threads. It should be noted that complaint is minor indeed.Altogether a very memorable read. I'd easily recommend Starfish and Peter Watts to anyone.
chlorine on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In a not-too-distant future, electrical plants are set up at the bottom of the oceans, where tectonic plates meet, to use the energy they dissipate. People working in these plants have been chirgurgically modified to be amphibious: in their chest, a device able to extract oxygen from water replaces one of the lungs, and other modifications allow them to withstand the enormous pressure existing at these depths.Only one type of persons can stand life in these conditions: criminals, violent persons, people with mental problems or who have suffered abuse in their childhood. People who don't like life in society, and who, here, manage to find some sort of equilibrium.We follow a group of people working in one of the plants, from their arrival and their progressive adaptation to the environment. Then some strange events, orchestrated by the people from the surface, begin to happen around them...I really liked this book but have trouble explaining why. Certainly the good writing style played a strong role in this, and the oppressive settings in which a small number of characters are packed together contributed to make the book gripping. The story is well-conducted, though at the end many threads are left hanging, to be picked up in the second book of this trilogy.Finally, a very important part of the book is formed by the characters and their psychology. I don't know if this part is a success or not. On the one hand it is, because I was fascinated by their behaviours and their reasonings, conditioned by what they suffered during their childhoods. On the other hand, the way in which they are described causes the reader to sympathize in a certain sense with sadistic psycopaths or paedophiles. This makes me wonder if these characters are really believable.But all in all this was a very pleasant read and I read the second book quickly after this first one. To make it better, the author has made this series freely available in electronic form!
hibiscustea on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I found Starfish at the library one day while I was killing time. I picked it up and couldn't put it down. I ended up keeping the book out of the library until I could find my own copy, but even now I have a hard time describing what it is about Watts' prose that I find so electric. Starfish is not a book without faults. However, I really do feel that its good bits outweigh the problematic ones. Set in the near future, the story centers on a group of severely damaged people hired to work deep sea vents. These people are hired because some corporate goon has determined that damaged people are the ones best able to cope with living in the deep sea, the Rift. The novel is deeply introspective and character-driven, focusing on the protagonist Lenie Clarke as she adapts to the underwater environment and the people she works with. The story is a slow-burning psychological thriller just as much as it is science fiction. Watts' writing is luscious, tightly composed, and highly evocative. He does have a habit of using technobabble; he was a marine biologist and it shows. However, I find that I don't really mind it because he manages to make it feel natural (as an added bonus he includes a bibliography for some of the ideas he plays with, if you enjoy that sort of thing).
wfzimmerman on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
HIs subsequent BLINDSIGHT made this a keeper.
ben_h on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Excellent hard sci-fi, catering to the Evo Devo nerds rather than the space nuts. The deep sea is deeply weird to begin with; add in some sci-fi imagination and a cadre of dysfunctional protagonists and you have a great creepy story, dark as the bottom of the Atlantic.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
i honestly enjoyed the book, and was amazed by this authors imagnation. i was surprised at the way it was setup, i had a hard time reading it in the beggining, the way it went from one set of characters to another, but overall i hough it was a good book. another thing, and this is for books in general, i think there ought to be some kind of maturity rating system for books because i was surprised also at some of the content in this book. i got it from my school library and lets just say that im not exactly in high school yet and well.... enough said. the book was taken off the shelf. thats beide the point however, what i think could be improved on this book, would b the addition of a sequel =)if i am incorrect and there is already one out there then disregard this last comment.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In the near future, the energy crisis has hit geometric proportions that no one anticipated just a few years earlier. Desperate for new clean sources leads to of geothermal sources deep in the ocean in places like Juan de Fuca Rift off the Canadian Northwest Pacific coast. However, it takes a special type of person to become a maintenance worker at the dangerous underwater power plants employees must be psychotic to ignore their surface lives and agree to surgical alteration to cope with the ocean¿s extreme pressure. --- The brave (most surface dwellers insist insane) amphibious workers relish the undersea volcanic environs. However, none under and above realize what else resides in the Rift besides the newcomer rifter human species. There lives ancient bacterium has found a host to take them from the ocean depths to the continents. Soon mankind finds itself in a war of the worlds in which human resistance seems nil. --- This reprint of a cautionary late 1990s thriller affirms how accurate Peter Watts predicted the energy crisis, but the crux of the tale is the underwater world from real biology and geography to the typical human disregard to the ecosystem. Though no character truly stands out even the deadly bacterium, the end of the world scenario with its anti heroes makes for compelling reading. ---Harriet Klausner
Guest More than 1 year ago
I bought this book because I could not find anything in the SF section which attracted my attention. I was not expecting a big deal out of it. What a big suprise when I stared reading it. This is a natural writer and the book is one of the best I have read ever. Really good I recomended to anyone that likes Hard SF. The last 100 pages are awesome. Peter Watts is a writer to look forward to in his next books. I dont like sequels though and this one let me thinking that one is comming. :O)
Guest More than 1 year ago
The best science fiction is really about people and only secondarily about science. Starfish is superficially about deep sea exploration, but it's the characters that grab you. Dsyfunctional doesn't begin to describe them, but Watts manages to make them intelligent and sympathetic. It's easy to find yourself actually liking them. Considering the kind of people they are, that's quite a triumph. Watts evokes the creepy, dangerous tension in life on the bottom of the sea. The characters are creepy and dangerous too. You'll be thinking about them long after you've finished th