Peter Watts (author)

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Peter Watts
Peter Watts' acceptance speech at the 2010 Hugo Awards ceremony
Peter Watts' acceptance speech at the 2010 Hugo Awards ceremony
Born (1958-01-25) 25 January 1958 (age 64)[1]
Alma mater
GenreScience fiction
Notable worksBlindsight
SpouseCaitlin Sweet (August 2011–present)[2]

Peter Watts (born January 25, 1958[1]) is a Canadian science fiction author. He specializes in hard science fiction. He earned a Ph.D from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver,[3] British Columbia in 1991, from the Department of Zoology and Resource Ecology. He went on to hold several academic research and teaching positions, and worked as a marine-mammal biologist. He began publishing fiction around the time he finished graduate school.


His first novel Starfish (1999) reintroduced Lenie Clarke from his short story, "A Niche" (1990); 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 constitute one novel, but were published separately for commercial reasons.[4] Starfish, Maelstrom, and βehemoth make up a trilogy usually referred to as "Rifters" after the modified humans designed to work in deep-ocean environments.

His novel Blindsight, released in October 2006, was nominated for a Hugo Award. The novel has been described by Charles Stross as follows: "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."[5] Echopraxia (2014) is a "sidequel" about events happening on Earth and elsewhere concurrent with the events in Blindsight.[6]

Watts has made some of his novels and short fiction available on his website under a 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.[7] The week after [he] started giving Blindsight away, sales tripled."[8]

In addition to writing 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.[9] 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.[8] More recently, he has been recruited[10] 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";[11] the creative director of BioShock 2 has cited Watts's work as an influence on that game.[12]

Watts at Finncon 2013 in Helsinki, Finland

Personal life[edit]

Watts obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in 1980 and a Master of Science degree in 1983, both from the University of Guelph, Ontario. He obtained his Ph.D from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, British Columbia, from the Department of Zoology and Resource Ecology, in 1991.[13][14]

In December 2009, Watts was detained at the Canada–United States border by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to perform 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.[15] According to Watts, he was assaulted, punched in the face, pepper-sprayed, and thrown in jail for the night.[16] The officer later admitted 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 2 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.[17] In April 2010, he was given a suspended sentence and a fine.[18] However, due to immigration laws,[19] Watts' felony conviction prevents him from re-entering the United States.[20]

In February 2011, he contracted the rare disease necrotizing fasciitis in his leg, which he has blogged about on his website.[21]

He married fellow Canadian author Caitlin Sweet in August 2011.[2]



Rifters trilogy[edit]

  • Starfish (July 1999, Tor Books, ISBN 978-0-312-86855-0)
  • Maelstrom (October 2001, Tor Books, ISBN 978-0-312-87806-1)
  • βehemoth (published in two volumes):



  • Crysis: Legion (released on 22 March 2011. Novelization of the video-game Crysis 2)
  • Peter Watts Is an Angry Sentient Tumor: Revenge Fantasies and Essays (November 12, 2019, Tachyon Publications)


Short stories, novelettes, and novellas[edit]

Sunflower cycle[edit]

The Sunflower series of stories concerns the voyage of a jumpgate-building ship named Eriophora:[8][23]

The chronological order within the Sunflower universe is: "Hotshot", The Freeze-Frame Revolution, "Giants", "The Island", "Hitchhiker".


  • "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 Things" (Clarkesworld Magazine, January 2010)[27][28]
  • "Malak" (Engineering Infinity, edited by Jonathan Strahan, December 2010)[29][30][31]
  • "Firebrand" (Twelve Tomorrows, 2013)
  • "The Colonel" (, 29 July 2014)
  • "Collateral" (Upgraded, 2014)
  • "Colony Creature" (2015)
  • "ZeroS" (Infinity Wars, edited by Jonathan Strahan, September 2017)
  • "Kindred" (Infinity's End, edited by Jonathan Strahan, July 2018)
  • "Gut Feelings" (Toronto 2033, November 2018)

Awards and critical reception[edit]

"A Niche"[edit]


  • Nominee 2000 Campbell Award[33]


"The Island"[edit]

"The Things"[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Peter Watts - Summary Biography". ISFDB. Retrieved 7 October 2014.
  2. ^ a b Watts, Peter. "He Said/She Said". Rifterscom.
  3. ^ Watts, Peter (1991). "Hauling Out Behaviour of Harbour Seals". University of British Columbia.
  4. ^ Jonas, Gerald (20 March 2005). "Science Fiction: Across the Universe". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 March 2010.
  5. ^ Stross, Charlie (31 January 2006). "Trivia: Who are the business people?". Archived from the original on 21 July 2011. Retrieved 14 December 2009.
  6. ^ Dellamonica, Alyx (26 August 2014). "Echopraxia: The Latest Attempt by Peter Watts to Stomp Your Assumptions to Death". Retrieved 7 October 2014.
  7. ^ Watts, Peter (24 January 2009). "Rip-Off Alert". Retrieved 19 March 2010.
  8. ^ a b c "IamA Science Fiction Author named Peter Watts. I am not any of those other Peter Wattses. AMA, within reason". 26 August 2014. Retrieved 7 October 2014.
  9. ^ "Production Crew". Retrieved 9 October 2014.
  10. ^ Watts, Peter (16 July 2009). "Please Stand By for an Important If Ultimately Uninformative Announcement". Retrieved 19 March 2010.
  11. ^ "Nanosuit Brochure" (PDF). Crynet Systems. Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 October 2009. (page 7)
  12. ^ Plant, Michael (1 February 2010). "BioShock 2: The interview". The Independent. London. Archived from the original on 26 May 2022.
  13. ^ Watts, Peter (1991). Hauling out behaviour of harbour seals, Phoca vitulina richardsi, with particular attention to thermal constraints (PDF). Vancouver, BC: University of British Columbia. Archived from the original (PDF) on 12 November 2013. Retrieved 29 July 2013.
  14. ^ Watts, Peter. "Curriculum Vitae" (PDF). Retrieved 10 April 2017.
  15. ^ 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.
  16. ^ Watts, Peter (11 December 2009). "Not the Best of Possible Worlds". Retrieved 19 March 2010.
  17. ^ "Watts guilty of Blue Water Bridge assault". Port Huron Times-Herald. 19 March 2010. Archived from the original on 4 February 2013. Retrieved 21 June 2013.(subscription required)
  18. ^ Nickle, David (26 April 2010). "Peter Watts is Free". The Devil's Exercise Yard.
  19. ^ "Aggravated Felonies and Deportation". Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse. 2006.
  20. ^ Ashby, Madeline (27 April 2010). "Sometimes, we win".
  21. ^ Watts, Peter. "Flesh Eating Fest '11".
  22. ^ Peter Watts – Beyond the Rift cover art and synopsis reveal Archived 12 November 2013 at the Wayback Machine at
  23. ^ Novakova, Julie. "Human Nature: A Conversation with Peter Watts". Clarkesworld Magazine (August 2014). Archived from the original on 17 October 2014. Retrieved 12 October 2014.
  24. ^ Alexander, Niall (12 June 2014). "Step into the Stars: Reach for Infinity, ed. Jonathan Strahan". Retrieved 13 December 2015.
  25. ^ "Araneus". Retrieved 21 November 2019.
  26. ^ "Strategic Retreat". Retrieved 19 January 2022.
  27. ^ Newitz, Annalee. "An incredible short story told from the perspective of the alien in John Carpenter's The Thing". io9. Retrieved 26 June 2015.
  28. ^ Burnham, Karen. "Short Story Club: The Things by Peter Watts". Locus Online. Retrieved 26 June 2015.
  29. ^ Tilton, Lois (7 December 2010). "Lois Tilton reviews Short Fiction, early December". Locus. Retrieved 6 January 2015.
  30. ^ Seel, Nigel (11 April 2011). "Book Review: Engineering Infinity (ed) Jonathan Strahan". Retrieved 6 January 2015.
  31. ^ Waters, Robert E. (8 March 2011). "Engineering Infinity, edited by Jonathan Strahan". Tangent. Archived from the original on 13 April 2017. Retrieved 6 January 2015.
  32. ^ "1992 Aurora Awards". The LOCUS Index to SF Awards. Archived from the original on 14 January 2010. Retrieved 19 March 2010.
  33. ^ "2000 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 22 December 2011.
  34. ^ Official announcement. Archived 13 January 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  35. ^ a b "2007 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 22 December 2011.
  36. ^ "Sokeanäkö sai tieteiskirjojen Tähtivaeltaja-palkinnon". 8 May 2014.
  37. ^ "2014 Seiun Award Winners". 21 July 2014.
  38. ^ "2010 Hugo Awards Winners". 5 September 2010.
  39. ^ "Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award 2010". Science Fiction Awards Database. Locus.
  40. ^ 2010 Locus Awards Finalists Archived 12 June 2014 at the Wayback MachineLocus Online

External links[edit]