Peter Watts (author)

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Peter Watts
Peter watts fulbeskuren.png
Peter Watts' acceptance speech at the 2010 Hugo Awards ceremony
Born 1958
Occupation Writer
Nationality Canadian
Period 1990–present
Genre science fiction

Peter Watts (born 1958) is a Canadian science fiction author and marine-mammal biologist.


His first novel Starfish (1999) reintroduced Lenie Clarke from his 1990 short story, "A Niche"; Clarke is a deep-ocean power-station worker physically altered for underwater living and the main character in the sequels: Maelstrom (2001), βehemoth: β-Max (2004) and βehemoth: Seppuku (2005). The last two volumes comprise one novel, published split in two for commercial considerations.[1] Starfish, Maelstrom and βehemoth comprise a trilogy usually referred to as "Rifters" after the modified humans designed to work in deep-ocean environments.

His novel Blindsight was released in October 2006 and was nominated for a Hugo Award. The novel has been described by Charles Stross thus: "Imagine a neurobiology-obsessed version of Greg Egan writing a first contact with aliens story from the point of view of a zombie posthuman crewman aboard a starship captained by a vampire, with not dying as the boobie prize."[2] Echopraxia (2014) is a "sidequel" about what happened on Earth during Blindsight.[3] Watts is currently writing the novel Sunflowers.[4][5]

Watts has made his novels and some short fiction available on his website under Creative Commons license. He believes that doing so has "actually saved [his] career outright, by rescuing Blindsight from the oblivion to which it would have otherwise been doomed."[6]

In addition to his novels and short stories, Watts has also worked in other media. He was peripherally involved in the early stages of the animated science fiction film and television project Strange Frame. He also worked briefly with Relic Entertainment on one of the early drafts of the story that would eventually, years later, become Homeworld 2. However, the draft Watts worked on bears no resemblance to the one used for the released game. More recently, he has been recruited[7] by Crytek as a writer and art consultant on Crysis 2. Technological elements from Blindsight have been referenced in the fictional Crysis 2 "Nanosuit Brochure".[8]

The creative director of Bioshock 2 has cited Watts's work as an influence on that game.[9]

Personal life[edit]

Watts obtained a bachelor's of science degree in 1980 and a master's of science degree in 1983, both from the University of Guelph, Ontario, and a PhD from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC from the Department of Zoology and Resource Ecology in 1991.[10]

In December 2009, Watts was detained at the US/Canadian border by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) performing a reportedly random search of the rental vehicle he was driving. Watts is alleged to have assaulted a CBP Officer and was turned over to local authorities to face charges. According to an officer, the authorities used pepper spray to subdue Watts after Watts became aggressive toward officers.[11] According to Watts, he was assaulted, punched in the face, pepper-sprayed and thrown in jail for the night.[12] The officer later admits in court that he had punched Watts. A jury found Watts guilty of obstructing a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer. He faced a maximum sentence of two years in prison. Watts blogged about his sentence saying that because of how the law was written, his asking: "What is the problem?" was enough to convict him of non-compliance.[13] In April 2010 he was given a suspended sentence, and a fine.[14] However, due to immigration laws,[15] Watts' felony conviction prevents him from re-entering the United States.[16]

In February 2011, he contracted the rare disease necrotizing fasciitis in his leg, which he has blogged about on his website.[17]

He married fellow Canadian author Caitlin Sweet in August 2011.[18]



Rifters trilogy[edit]

  1. Starfish (July 1999, Tor Books, ISBN 978-0-312-86855-0) (available online)
  2. Maelstrom (October 2001, Tor Books, ISBN 978-0-312-87806-1) (available online)
  3. βehemoth (published in two volumes) (available online)

Firefall series[edit]


  • Crysis: Legion [Paperback], released on 22 March 2011. Novelization of the game Crysis 2.


Short stories[edit]

  • "A Niche" (Tesseracts, 1990)
  • "Nimbus" (On Spec, 1994)
  • "Flesh Made Word" (Prairie Fire Magazine, 1994)
  • "Fractals" (On Spec, 1995)
  • "Bethlehem" (Tesseracts 5, 1996)
  • "The Second Coming of Jasmine Fitzgerald" (Divine Realms, 1998)
  • "Home" (On Spec, 1999)
  • "Bulk Food" (On Spec, 2000) with Laurie Channer
  • "Ambassador" (Ten Monkeys, Ten Minutes, 2002)
  • "A Word for Heathens" (ReVisions, 2004)
  • "Mayfly" (Tesseracts 9, 2005) with Derryl Murphy
  • "Repeating the Past" (Nature Magazine, 2007)
  • "The Eyes of God" (The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction: Volume 2, 2008)
  • "Hillcrest v. Velikovsky" ("Nature Magazine", 2008)
  • "The Island" (The New Space Opera 2, 2009)
  • "The Things" (Clarkesworld Magazine, January 2010)
  • "Malak" (Engineering Infinity, edited by Jonathan Strahan) January 2011
  • "Firebrand", 2013
  • "Giants", 2014
  • "Hotshot", 2014
  • "The Colonel", 2014
  • "Collateral", 2014

Awards and critical reception[edit]

"Whenever I find my will to live becoming too strong, I read Peter Watts."[21]James Nicoll, SF critic.

"The Things":

The Island:



  • Nominee 2000 Campbell Award[27]

A Niche:


  1. ^ Jonas, Gerald (20 March 2005). "Science Fiction: Across the Universe". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 March 2010. 
  2. ^ Stross, Charlie (31 January 2006). "Trivia: Who are the business people?". Retrieved 14 December 2009. 
  3. ^ Watts, Peter (11 February 2008). "Petepourri". Retrieved 19 March 2010. 
  4. ^ Watts, Peter (23 January 2008). "Stop me if you've heard this one before.". Retrieved 19 March 2010. 
  5. ^ Watts, Peter (14 January 2008). "A Farewell to "Gerbils"". Retrieved 19 March 2010. 
  6. ^ Watts, Peter (24 January 2009). "Rip-Off Alert". Retrieved 19 March 2010. 
  7. ^ Watts, Peter (16 July 2009). "Please Stand By for an Important If Ultimately Uninformative Announcement". Retrieved 19 March 2010. 
  8. ^ "Nanosuit Brochure" (PDF). Crynet Systems.  (page 7)
  9. ^ Plant, Michael (1 February 2010). "BioShock 2: The interview". The Independent (London). 
  10. ^ Watts, Peter (1991). Hauling out behaviour of harbour seals, Phoca vitulina richardsi, with particular attention to thermal constraints. Vancouver, BC: University of British Columbia. 
  11. ^ Rushowy, Kristin (13 December 2009). "War of words ends in author's arrest at border; Toronto science fiction writer accused of assault following 'altercation' at U.S. border crossing". Toronto Star. Retrieved 19 March 2009. 
  12. ^ Watts, Peter (11 December 2009). "Not the Best of Possible Worlds.". Retrieved 19 March 2010. 
  13. ^ "Watts guilty of Blue Water Bridge assault". Port Huron Times-Herald. 19 March 2010. Retrieved 21 June 2013. (subscription required)
  14. ^ Nickle, David (26 April 2010). "Peter Watts is Free". The Devil's Exercise Yard. 
  15. ^ "Aggravated Felonies and Deportation". TRAC immigration web site. 2006. 
  16. ^ Ashby, Madeline (27 April 2010). "Sometimes, we win.". 
  17. ^ Watts, Peter. "Flesh Eating Fest '11". 
  18. ^ Watts, Peter. "He Said/She Said". 
  19. ^ The Island and Other Stories at Goodreads
  20. ^ Peter Watts – Beyond the Rift cover art and synopsis reveal at
  21. ^ Watts home page
  22. ^ Locus Online: The Website of The Magazine of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Field
  23. ^ official announcement
  24. ^ a b "2007 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2011-12-22. 
  25. ^ Sokeanäkö sai tieteiskirjojen Tähtivaeltaja-palkinnon
  26. ^ 2014 Seiun Award Winners
  27. ^ "2000 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2011-12-22. 
  28. ^ "1992 Aurora Awards". The LOCUS Index to SF Awards. Retrieved 19 March 2010. 

External links[edit]