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August 2003
© 2003 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu
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Blind Lake by Robert Charles Wilson
Tor HCVR: ISBN 0765302624 PubDate: August 1, 2003
Review by Paul Giguere

400 pages List price 24.95
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Robert Charles Wilson is probably one of the most underappreciated writers working in the SF field today. Part of the reason is that Wilsonís novels donít easily fit into neat sub-genres that have grown up around the field such as hard SF, social SF, military SF, etc. Also, Wilson has, thus far anyway, resisted the urge to write sequels, trilogies, or series based on the innovative and captivating worlds developed in his novels. Wilson is also a quiet sort who prefers to simply keep writing well crafted novels (most recently the critically acclaimed novels The Chronoliths, Bios, and Darwinia) that have become real gems of the SF world. This is in sharp contrast to some of Wilsonís Canadian contemporaries who seem to spend more time expounding on how they are such great SF writers rather than spending the energy writing better stories. Blind Lake, Wilsonís latest outing, does not disappoint.

At a Federal research facility in Minneapolis, Minnesota (which is basically a small town), scientists are utilizing a telescope that, in conjunction with a quantum computer that scientists barely understand, allows one to view the lives of a species of aliens on a distant planet. The research project, code-named ďBlind LakeĒ, allows scientists to view individual aliens (erroneously labeled ďlobstersĒ) as they go about their day-to-day lives unaware of the human voyeurs from across the great expanse of space. Nerissa Iverson, the lead scientist on the project, is constantly trying to justify the focus of her research and the current use of the telescope while locked in administrative combat with her ex-husband and acting administration chief, Ray Scutter.

After Blind Lake is unexpectedly and inexplicably shut-off from all contact with the outside world via a military cordon, a recently arrived journalist, Chris Carmody, who is also trapped at the facility, gets caught up in the middle of the intrigue. While developing a shy and hesitant relationship with Narissa, Chris begins to put the pieces together and, along with Narissa, begins to arrive at a conclusion that is inconceivable; maybe the aliens arenít as unaware of the human observers as originally thought. Things start to come to head as Blind Lake workers are killed trying to escape the facility and Ray Scutter begins a covert campaign to subdue the opposition and shut down the telescope thus possibly ending forever the opportunity to observe and maybe even contact the aliens.

Blind Lake is a compelling, character-driven tale that touches on every human emotion. Wilson is also a very literate writer and I frequently found myself not only enjoying the story but also the language he uses to impart his tale. In short, I found Blind Lake to be a well-crafted novel and a great read. Blind Lake adds to Wilsonís growing reputation as a quiet, but potent, master of the SF story.

© 2003 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu
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