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Blind Lake

First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Tor, 2003.
Physical Description:
399 pages ; 21 cm
General Note:
"A Tom Doherty Associates book."

Jacket art by Jim Burns.
Working with an unfamiliar technology at a federal research installation, Marguerite, alongside the man she recently divorced, studies a distant alien race and deals with a military cordon that has cut off all communication.
Added Author:


Call Number
SCI-FI Wilson, R.

On Order



Robert Charles Wilson, says The New York Times , "writes superior science fiction thrillers." His Darwinia won Canada's Aurora Award; his most recent novel, The Chronoliths , won the prestigious John W. Campbell Memorial Award. Now he tells a gripping tale of alien contact and human love in a mysterious but hopeful universe.At Blind Lake, a large federal research installation in northern Minnesota, scientists are using a technology they barely understand to watch everyday life in a city of lobster like aliens upon a distant planet. They can't contact the aliens in any way or understand their language. All they can do is watch.Then, without warning, a military cordon is imposed on the Blind Lake site. All communication with the outside world is cut off. Food and other vital supplies are delivered by remote control. No one knows why.The scientists, nevertheless, go on with their research. Among them are Nerissa Iverson and the man she recently divorced, Raymond Scutter. They continue to work together despite the difficult conditions and the bitterness between them. Ray believes their efforts are doomed; that culture is arbitrary, and the aliens will forever be an enigma.Nerissa believes there is a commonality of sentient thought, and that our failure to understand is our own ignorance, not a fact of nature. The behavior of the alien she has been tracking seems to be developing an elusive narrative logic - and she comes to feel that the alien is somehow, impossibly, aware of the project's observers.But her time is running out. Ray is turning hostile, stalking her. The military cordon is tightening. Understanding had better come soon... .   Blind Lake is a 2004 Hugo Award Nominee for Best Novel.

Author Notes

Robert Charles Wilson was born in California and grew up in Canada. He is the author of many acclaimed SF novels, including A Hidden Place, The Divide, Gypsies, Bios, Darwinia, and The Chronoliths . His work has won the John W. Campbell Award, the Aurora Award, and two Philip K. Dick Awards. He lives near Toronto.

Reviews 4

Publisher's Weekly Review

Wilson (The Chronoliths) grapples with the ineffable in a superior SF thriller notable for credible characters and a well-crafted plot. In the mid-21st century, revolutionary new technology allows scientists to watch life forms on planets circling other stars as if they were just a few feet away. At Blind Lake, one of two installations devoted to this purpose, Marguerite Hauser studies an enigmatic alien being who has been dubbed Subject, while also dealing with her ex-husband, Ray Scutter, a mid-level bureaucrat who constantly questions her fitness to have custody over their daughter, Tessa. Then Blind Lake mysteriously goes into lockdown the day after Chris Carmody, a journalist beset by self-doubt and a sordid past, arrives in hopes of finding a story that will restart his career. Automated trucks continue to deliver food, but all communication with the outside world is cut off. Military drones kill anyone attempting to break the quarantine. As the months pass, the installation's large population begins to come unglued. In particular, Ray, who disapproves of Marguerite's new relationship with Chris, starts to stalk his ex-wife. Tessa's possible contact with an alien even stranger than Subject adds to the suspense. Thoughtful and deliberately paced, this book will appeal to readers who prefer science fiction with substance. (Aug. 7) FYI: The Chronoliths won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best science fiction novel of 2002, and was nominated for both the Hugo and Aurora awards for that year. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Kirkus Review

Near-future psychological SF puzzler, from the talented author of The Chronoliths (2001), etc. Far out in space, an array of detectors functioning as a single gigantic telescope captures images from planets circling distant stars; processed and amplified by quantum computers, the images show living detail. At Crossbank, one facility studies the watery world HR8832/B and its teeming, nonsentient life; Blind Lake spotlights UMa47/E and one of its intelligent, city-dwelling "Lobsters," referred to as Subject. Astonishingly, after the detectors fail, the quantum computers effortlessly continue to capture images. Then, one day, Blind Lake finds itself under lockdown conditions; nobody and nothing, not even signals, may enter or leave. In charge by default is ambitious bully Ray Scutter. Also among those trapped is Ray's ex-wife Marguerite Hauser, her daughter Tessa, and their involuntary lodger, whistle-blowing journalist Chris Carmody. Tessa has an invisible companion, Mirror Girl, who appears in reflective surfaces; clearly, she's aware of something beyond the ability of adults to apprehend. Marguerite, impatient with the stiffly hands-off approach of the scientific studies, publicly calls for attempts to interpret the increasingly odd behavior of Subject. But as the lockdown extends into weeks and months, all Ray can come up with are cryptic hints of apocalyptic events at Crossbank. He becomes murderously convinced that to break the stalemate he must shut down the quantum computers. Another staff member, watching their Subject, somehow finds that he's touching the creature. And Tessa, ever more disturbed and eerie, vanishes. Fizzing with ideas while tightly focused on the characters: intense, absorbing, memorable work. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

An expert creator of sf thrillers provides another superior example. Blind Lake is Minnesota's version of the Area 51 of that series (see Area 51: Nosferatu BKL Jl 03), but, thanks to as-yet incomprehensible technology, Blind Lake researchers study live, lobster-like aliens on a distant planet, not crashed UFOs. Nerissa Iverson and Raymond Scutter face personal and professional conflicts since their recent divorce, and she believes there are features common to all sentient beings' thought, while he believes that culture is arbitrary and aliens will always be incomprehensible. Then, without warning, the military seals the facility off, Scutter starts stalking his ex-wife, and she suspects that at least one alien is aware of being observed and may be trying to communicate. Wilson builds suspense superlatively well, to a resolution that packs all the emotional wallop anyone could wish. Wilson's fans will come looking for this one, and others will follow. --Roland Green Copyright 2003 Booklist

Library Journal Review

When the research facility at Blind Lake, MN, is placed under military blockade and quarantine, the scientists and workers who live and work there can only connect their enforced isolation with their research on a newly discovered form of alien life on a distant planet. Journalist Chris Carmody, trapped in Blind Lake, finds his life transformed by his chance encounter with researcher Marguerite Hauser and her troubled daughter, Tess, a young girl whose unusual mind may hold the key to unraveling the alien mystery. Veteran sf author Wilson (The Chronoliths; Darwinia) crafts a taut sf suspense tale featuring compelling personal dramas and hard science in a story of alien contact and the mysteries of the universe. For most sf collections. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.