by Peter Watts

Peter Watts is a hard sf writer with degrees in biology – and it shows in his work. His treatment of zombies and vampires takes them out of the fantasy realm and into the future, giving us plenty of reason to fear what is to come. But they are really just background – furniture to decorate his richly decorated world.

Unfortunately it takes several advanced degrees in biology to be able to read and enjoy this latest book. While I consider myself intelligent and reasonably well-educated (in Computer Engineering, for your reference) I found myself wishing for a companion dictionary as I read Echopraxia.

Many of the concepts are intriguing.

The bicamerals, for instance. A group mind with computational enhancements that brings significant advantages in research and advanced thinking (as well as a connection to God?), but has serious long-term drawbacks for the specific individuals.

Zombies developed as foot soldiers – an interesting use for what has become a somewhat overused concept.

What suffers in this novel is the story. Oh, sure, it’s well plotted out and taken to it’s reasonable conclusion, but reading this book felt so much like WORK that it failed to be enjoyable. I like books that make me think, but this one led me to one inestimable conclusion – that I’m a blithering idiot! I stumbled through this book feeling stupid for having to look up words and concepts and while I did keep coming back for more, I can’t say I was always happy about it.

Next time, just maybe, could you assume that your audience does NOT have an advanced degree in biology to read your work? That would be nice, thanks.

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