Book cover of Echopraxia.
Book 2 of the Firefall series


Echopraxia is the second book in Peter Watts’s Firefall series, although it takes place roughly at the same time as Blindsight. It follows parasitologist Daniel Brüks as he gets dragged into a conflict between multiple transhuman factions, travels to the Icarus station orbiting the sun, and back to Earth.

The world Watts built in Blindsight was enthralling, and the scientific and philosophical arguments about consciousness were fascinating. I loved it. Echopraxia expands on the exceptional worldbuilding of its predecessor while focusing on the ideas of god, godhood, free will, and the place of humans in a transhuman world. It is a fantastic sequel, possibly even better than the first.

The Major characters are:

The novel is full of Christian imagery, augmenting its theme of transcendentalism and digital theology:

Parasites and biology are also central themes. Brüks studies parasites, but in some ways, he is one as the weakest member of the group and one forced to hide for his safety. Humans, too, are like parasites, trying to survive among much more powerful transhumans. And Portia, the alien smart matter sent by Rorschach to Icarus, traps and studies the other characters in the book just like Brüks does to the animals he studies in Oregon.

Loss is yet another theme. Brüks lost his wife to the virtual reality world of “heaven”; Keaton lost his wife in the same way, and his son Siri on the mission from Blindsight; and Sengupta lost her wife to the virus that Brüks’s simulations failed to catch before it infected thousands. Each character is shaped and eventually brought down by what their profound sense of loss drives them to do.

Echopraxia received mixed reviews from others compared to the universally rave reviews for Blindsight, primarily because people thought it was even more confusing. While it’s true that the narrator, Brüks, is the person with the least idea of what is going on, I found the plot not too hard to follow. All the mysteries are eventually revealed and explained if you pay attention. So far, Echopraxia is my favorite read of the year.