Peter Watts’ irresistible THE FREEZE-FRAME REVOLUTION is compelling science fiction with heart

Reviews for Peter Watts’ entertaining and provocative THE FREEZE-FRAME REVOLUTION keep flooding in.


At FOREWORD REVIEWS, Peter Dabbene praises the work.

Hard science fiction that reads like a first-person parable, Peter Watts’s THE FREEZE-FRAME REVOLUTION is thoughtful, suspenseful, and unforgettable.


Watts, a former marine biologist, deftly weaves hard science, both actual and theoretical, into the book. Those familiar with cutting-edge ideas like Boltzmann Bodies or the Stefan-Boltzmann law and the Alcubierre warp drive will come away satisfied, but the science is so fully ingrained into the narrative that it doesn’t draw attention to itself—a high compliment indeed.

Sophisticated enough for hard science-fiction purists, the book is nevertheless intimately written in a conversational style, as Sunday relates the happenings aboard ship and her interactions with Chimp and the others. There are many examples of Watts’s inventive writing, perhaps most noticeably the use of the gender-neutral pronouns “se” and “hir” throughout the book.

The story’s massive time span invites intriguing questions, as when Sunday asks a crewmate, “How do you tell the difference between going extinct and just, you know, changing into something else?”

The result of all this is an epic of epochs; entertaining and provocative, brilliant and ambitious, FREEZE-FRAME REVOLUTION is compelling science fiction with heart.

Nisi Shawl in THE SEATTLE REVIEW OF BOOKS enjoys the novella.

THE FREEZE-FRAME REVOLUTION (Tachyon), the shortest and latest novel from Canadian Peter Watts, is as brilliant and enticingly acute as any of his earlier and longer work.


The mission, after millions and millions and millions of years, goes on under the implacable and inescapable eye of an artificial intelligence tasked with keeping the crew’s nose to an eternal grindstone. How can its favorite human Sunday Ahzmundin and a few thousand others possibly manage to rebel against their superhuman supervisor? With skin-creeping tension, sharply realistic detail, and action moving fast as thought, Watts shows us.

Everdeen Mason of THE WASHINGTON POST declares the tale as one of the month’s top reads.

THE FREEZE-FRAME REVOLUTION (Tachyon), by Peter Watts, is a delicious morsel of hard science fiction. The short novel follows the crew of a construction ship who have spent 66 million years traveling across the galaxy building interstellar wormhole gates for humanity. The group is held in suspended animation, awakened for brief periods by Chimp, the AI that runs the ship.


The setup of the book is irresistible, and the science is high-concept, but the story is driven by Sunday’s relationships and her conviction in herself and her companions.

Watts participated in a REDDIT AMA.


1 point·

10 days ago

Hello. Huge fan….Blindsight is the only book (besides Stan Robinson’s Red Mars ) that I’ve re-read in the last 10 years. Anyway, my question…… What is your recommended reading order of the SUNFLOWER CYCLE ? Can it truly be the publication order?! Thank you in advance.


AMA Author

1 point·

10 days ago

Chronologically, the order is “Hotshot”; “The Freeze-Frame Revolution”; “Giants”; and “The Island”. But each was designed to be understandable whether or not you’ve read any of the others, and Sunday doesn’t even appear in all of them, so go wild.


1026 points·

12 days ago

Please, elaborate on your relationship with raccoons and your opinion on the raccoon that climbed a skyscraper yesterday. Also maybe I guess why use tumblrspeak or whatever when referring to yourself as a terrorist…


AMA Author

9 points·

12 days ago

·edited 11 days ago

There is an Ancient Compact Between Squid And Raccoon: I feed them unlimited kibble on the porch every night, and in return they don’t tear the shit out of our organics bin on Recycling Night. Unfortunately there is a loophole;nothing in the compact forbids them from tearing the shit out of our roof. Although I think they may have done so as a retaliatory tariff against the new “raccoon-proof” bins the city has been rolling out. It’s always the innocents that get caught in the middle.

MPRRaccoon is a North American Hero, just as much as little Timmy who fell down the well in that old episode of The Simpsons. Oh, and this just in from The BUG:

‘Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn even went so far as to offer a $1,000 charity donation to “anyone who saves this raccoon. I can’t handle this. Poor dude.”’

Excuse me for a moment while I wipe myself, and go put on my Rocket t-shirt.

Gary K. Wolfe for CHICAGO TRIBUNE reviews the book.

Sometimes sheer magnitude of scale can lend an epic scope to stories which, at the human level, remain fairly intimate. Peter Watts’s episodic tale mostly concerns efforts by a few crew members to rebel against the artificial intelligence that controls their spaceship, and whose motives they have come to distrust.


The real question she faces, however, and what gives Watts’s tale surprising depth, is what it means to be human on an endless mission in an uncaring universe.


THE FREEZE-FRAME REVOLUTION is a story about humans living in an unbearable situation. And I think the human character aspect is what Peter Watts has excelled at. The other short stories start involving aliens and they lack something because of this.

This is a hard science-fiction story, if you like books such as Seveneves by Neal Stephenson I would recommend this. It also has elements of artificial intelligence, and the problems which comes from having an all-knowing AI in control of a ship. In some ways it is also similar to The Long Way To A Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers.

I would highly recommend this book to any reader who enjoys locked room puzzles, political intrigue, and human stories in science fiction settings.

The French L’ÉPAULE D’ORION lauds the narrative and its hidden text.

THE FREEZE-FRAME REVOLUTION is a short narrative that offers a relatively simple and classic scenario, without the philosophical depth that Peter Watts has been able to accustom us in the past. Although it is very far from reaching the heights of Blind Vision, the text offers a certain sense of wonder in view of the extent of what it gives to imagine, but which comes more from its frame than from the scenario itself. even. It is also very accessible for a hard-SF novel and this is undoubtedly its highest quality. The scientific side, always very elaborate at Watts, never disturbs the story.

That being said, you will need to be attentive during your reading as the main text contains a hidden text, and if you find it, you will be rewarded with a revelation that is even more interesting than the main text itself. I would almost be tempted to give him 3 stars just for that. He’s teasing Peter Watts.

(Translation from French courtesy of Google)

For more info on THE FREEZE-FRAME REVOLUTION, visit the Tachyon page.

Cover and design by Elizabeth Story