Peter Watts’ fast-paced THE FREEZE-FRAME REVOLUTION is one of the year’s best science fiction odysseys
Peter Watts’ incredible THE FREEZE-FRAME REVOLUTION delivers.
Alvaro Zinos-Amaro at ORSON SCOTT CARD’S INTERGALACTIC MEDICINE SHOW praises the book.
Naturally, this invites all sorts of irresistible questions, some of which the jacket copy wisely asks: What prompts the human uprising? How do you mount a revolution against an intelligence orders of magnitude more advanced than you, which controls your environment, requires no sleep, and has all available resources at its command? How do you achieve secrecy when you’re under constant surveillance, and how do you meaningfully make plans with others when the intervals during which you’re awake and suspended are outside your ability to regulate? All this and more, answered in under two hundred pages!
Watts’s storytelling approach is minimalist. He keeps his sentences short and punchy, his exposition to the bare minimum. Certain ideas only become fully elucidated after the fact. All of this works to the narrative’s benefit, conveying in prose something akin to the ceaseless forward momentum experienced by Eri’s crew. That’s not to say that Watts avoids description. Indeed, he excels at a kind of hard-edged, chilly descriptive prose that makes as much use of scientific concepts as it does naturalistic imagery. Consider for example: “The hatch closed at our backs, swallowing us in brief darkness; it brightened to dim twilight as our eyes adjusted to analuciferin constellations glowing on all sides.” Or: “I’d hike to the caverns during down time, watch him dance as the forest went in: theorems and fractal symphonies playing out against fissured basalt, against a mist of mycelia, against proliferating vine-tangles of photosynthetic pods so good at sucking up photons that even under light designed to mimic the sun, they presented nothing but black silhouettes.”
In his novel Tau Zero (1970), Poul Anderson gave us the starship Leonora Christine, which through an accident to its Bussard ramscoop engines suffers a constant acceleration of one g, subjecting its crew to an increasingly vertiginous temporal dilation in which millions of years end up passing in seconds, all the way to the contraction of the Universe itself. Frederik Pohl and Jack Williamson’s The Singers of Time (1991) likewise presents an extreme relativistic scenario. THE FREEZE-FRAME REVOLUTION operates in similar “high concept” ground, but it’s undeniably the best of this breed, presenting engaging, believably flawed characters with complex interrelationships (and I certainly count Chimp among them) and a surprise ending that still manages to feel consistent with what has come before. Watts is an original thinker and a bold storyteller, here at the top of his considerable form. This is one of the year’s best science fiction odysseys.
For BOOKLIST, Regina Schroeder likes the work.
Told in a perfectly human voice—someone who questions and shifts his or her stand on things, who has unusual friendships and clings to small details—this is a genuinely pleasing story. Although it certainly could sustain greater length, the latest from Watts (Blindsight, 2006) packs a significant punch into a small package.
THE BOOK LOVER’S BOUDOIR enjoys their first Peter Watts experience.
This is my first time reading the author. I only occasionally read science fiction. I really enjoyed this novella. I felt like I was missing bits of the story though and apparently, I was as this is part of a series. I will likely read the other novellas to get the full story. I enjoyed the way the story develops as Sunday and her fellow conspirators work towards a seemingly impossible task. This short little book raises a hell of a lot of questions. How can you plan to take out an enemy when you’re awake for such a short time? How can you get the better of something but it’s very nature is or should be way smarter than you, something that can read and understand every thought in your head? Excellent little piece of writing.
Tom Mayer for MOUNTAIN TIMES reviews THE FREEZE-FRAME REVOLUTION.
Watts writes that particular brand of science fiction so smart that all but the best and brightest among us should have trouble tracking — but it is the author’s talent for storytelling that mutinous scenarios such as those that occur during a never-ending, 60-million-year (and counting) “gate-building” mission to the end of the universe make sense.
They make sense because Watts infuses his fiction not only with science, but with the human element. If you were “thawed” only once per several thousand years to add humanity and non-digital insights to the computer “Chimp,” an AI rivaling the best and worst of Hal, how far would your trust extend in the endgame being in your best interest?
While Watts’ plot is reminiscent of some of Asimov’s best short detective stories — the author maintains, despite industry standards, that “Freeze-Frame Revolution” is a novella — he makes this one his own by advancing the technology and intrigue in a fast-paced read that will linger long after the last byte is consumed.
IT STARTS AT MIDNIGHT wants more. And thankfully there is.
And now, I will tell you why I loved it! First, the concept is incredible, and the book delivers. It’s hard to even wrap one’s head around the thought of being alive in space for millions of years, really. But in a good way, because it’s so very thought provoking. It made me think about time in a whole new way, and of course had me questioning whether I could ever do the things that Sunday’s had to do.
In addition, it’s full of action and adventure, and contains a lot of really diverse and well fleshed out characters. The fact that this comes in at under 200 pages makes it an even more impressive feat, since I genuinely cared about the fates of not just the main character, but side characters as well. And, thanks to The Captain’s review, I found out that there are more stories set in this world! Of which I shall be devouring immediately, obviously. The only problem I’d had really is that I wanted more of this world and well… problem solved!
Bottom Line: If you love a sci-fi that makes you really think, but is also full of action, this is one you won’t want to miss!
For more info on THE FREEZE-FRAME REVOLUTION, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover and design by Elizabeth Story