Don’t Go to Gakkel Ridge (or My Year With Peter Watts)

Anyone who has read Peter Watts‘s Rifters series ought to be quite disturbed by this sort expedition to Gakkel Ridge, an Arctic Ocean mountain range. With geo-thermal vents and primordial microbes.

To get in on the Rifters books, which is something you really should do if you like unrelentingly dark but satisfyingly vivid science fiction, go read Starfish and the rest of the books at Peter’s website. (Or wait until the end of April, when it’ll be reissued in paperback, and help compensate an author who gives his books away online).

Maybe I’ll say more about Mr. Watts and his oeuvre at some other point. Looking back on the books I read in 2007, however, it is clear that I was the most alive to the joy of stories during my time spent with Peter Watts. And that is what it was like: After reading Blindsight last winter (also free, also exceptional), I instantly ordered used copies of his out-of-print dystopian deep-sea trilogy (which is actually four books) and read them in one straight shot. There’s something very satisfying — and, for me, rare — about getting yourself so enmeshed with an author.

I also had the pleasure of interviewing Peter for an article I was writing in the fall that, unfortunately, never came together for me in the end. But he’s as generous with his time as he is with his texts, and wickedly clever over the phone. It was a real thrill talking to him.

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