Siri Keeton, missing half his mind, is sent out on a mission to discover the source of thousands of probes that surrounded Earth and screamed an unintelligible alien signal before burning up in the atmosphere. With him are a crew of fellow misfit cyborgs, including a vampire, a woman who has conjured multiple personalities, and a soldier with an army of drones. Keeton is there merely to observe, but as is often the case, the act of observation changes the subject. In her introduction, Elizabeth Bear writes that while she “remains unconvinced of the correctness of [the book’s] central argument,” that “doesn’t change the fact that…[its] ideas are horrible and fascinating and glitter like a swarm of darkly jeweled beetle carapaces.” For my own purposes, I can’t say for certain that I know what Watts is doing here, but the words are so crackling and sharp that I hardly care.