Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Behemoth: Seppuku

Behemoth: Seppuku by Peter Watts

When I was sixteen I worked at a grocery store with a girl named Marianne whom I thought was pretty attractive. I wanted to ask her out for months but could never build up enough courage. After all, I didn't want to have to work with her if things went terribly wrong on the date. Eventually she quit and on her last day working, I asked her out. She said yes and we made plans for that weekend.

A short time into the date I realized that her breath was horrible. I don't know if it was an anomaly or if I had just never been that close to her before. Either way, the date couldn't end fast enough for me. When I took her home I stopped walking halfway to her front door and let her walk the rest of the way alone--where I told her goodbye from a safe distance of about 20 yards.

What does that have to do with Behemoth: Seppuku? Very little actually. But it does have something to do with the Rifters series, of which this book is the the fourth and final volume. Several years ago when I came across the first book in the series; Starfish, I was attracted to its eye-catching cover and intriguing description on the inside flap. I read it and enjoyed it. When the next book Maelstrom came out, I started to notice the bad breath. Unfortunately, as I've mentioned before, I have a mental disorder that does not allow me to quit reading a book I'm not enjoying, and apparently the condition makes it hard for me to stop reading a series of books once started.

The series takes place in the not-too-distant future. In need of a new source of energy, mankind begins to tap into geothermal vents in the deepest parts of the ocean. It's discovered that hardened criminals possess the type of temperament best conducive to surviving under the extreme conditions at the bottom of the ocean and given the choice between imprisonment and a relatively free lifestyle segregated from the rest of humanity, many choose the latter. These workers are then surgically altered into amphibian-like creatures (rifters) in order to allow them to survive at such depths. Unfortunately, for the rest of mankind, there are bacteria that thrive at the bottom of the ocean. Bacteria that the human race is not prepared to defend itself against. Using the rifters as vehicles to the surface, the bacteria quickly spread with apocalyptic results.

As the series progresses, halitosis sets in. There's not a likeable character anywhere in the series and the great idea behind the story gets overshadowed by the author's overwhelming angst and pessimism. Even in the acknowledgement section at the back of the book--yeah, my condition made me read that too, Watts writes that even if the book and the series "sucks" it would "suck even worse" if it wasn't for the help of the acknowledged individuals. If you're interested in owning the complete series, there's going to be a very cheap set on eBay in a few minutes.

★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

No comments:

Post a Comment