Peter Watts: “Echopraxia” (c) 2014.

Peter Watts: “Echopraxia” (c) 2014.

The sci fi novel “Echopraxia” by Peter Watts is the sequel to “Blindsight” (2006; 2010).
(Peter Watts: Firefall Series, Books 1 and 2).

Echopraxia is defined as the involuntary repetition or imitation of another person’s actions. (Wikipedia).

This was a challenging sci fi novel to read. The novel brings together biology, post-humanity, vampires, a complex alien technology; and the themes of evolution and free will.

The story is richly imagined, the characters are complex, and the prose is excellent.

In the first novel “Blindsight” alien probes appear above Earth and burn up as they fall through the atmosphere. Earth sends the spaceship Theseus to contact an alien interstellar artifact beyond the solar system. The immense alien structure calls itself “Rorschach.” The six specialized crew members aboard the Theseus are intrigued and puzzled by “Rorschach.”

It is now about 14 years since that First Contact. The fate of Theseus and its crew remains unknown.

In “Echopraxia,” the principal character is Daniel Brüks, a biologist and specifically a parasitologist. Brüks is doing field research in the Oregon desert when he gets caught up in the crossfire between the Bicamerals and the super-intelligent vampire, Valerie and her army of fast and intelligent transhuman zombies.

The Bicamerals are augmented post-humans, researching and creating advanced technology. Brüks finds himself aboard the Bicameral spaceship, the Crown of Thorns. On board also: Valerie the vampire, and Jim Moore.

Jim Moore is the father of Siri Keaton, one of the six crew members of the lost spaceship Theseus. Brüks learns from Moore that they are headed towards an alien artifact, Icarus, beyond the solar system. There are faint signals that indicate  Theseus may be in orbit around Icarus.

Icarus is an immense source of energy. And as intriguing in its structure as “Rorschach.”

Brüks is even more intrigued when he examines the crystalline structure of a “slime mold” type of growth on Icarus. He realizes this crystalline structure is already present in the smart paint of the Crown of Thorns.

Is “Rorschach” capable of creating virus-like parasites? Is the Crown of Thorns, its computers, the crew, already infected?