Jan. 5th, 2010
I've burbled here about Peter Watts' dazzling sf novel Blindsight, I think, and how much it's unsettled and stimulated me with fresh thoughts abou consciousness and intelligence. The new issue of Clarkesworld, an online sf magazine, has a short story of his up. It's called "The Things", and it's the story of John Carpenter's wonderful sf/horror movie The Thing from the other side. If you like sf or horror or thinking about identity, you want to read this.
We eye each other, and keep our distance. Colonies of cells shift uneasily inside me. I can feel my tissues redefining themselves.And, this being Watts, there is a gut punch of an additional element at the end. Great stuff.
"You the only one that made it?"
"Not the only one..."
I have the flamethrower. I have the upper hand. MacReady doesn't seem to care.
But he does care. He must. Because here, tissues and organs are not temporary battlefield alliances; they are permanent, predestined. Macrostructures do not emerge when the benefits of cooperation exceed its costs, or dissolve when that balance shifts the other way; here, each cell has but one immutable function. There's no plasticity, no way to adapt; every structure is frozen in place. This is not a single great world, but many small ones. Not parts of a greater thing; these are things. They are plural.