Blindsight is my first novel-length foray into deep space—a domain in which I have, shall we say, limited formal education. In that sense this book isn’t far removed from my earlier novels: but whereas I may have not known much about deep sea ecology either, most of you knew even less, and a doctorate in marine biology at least let me fake it through the rifters trilogy. Blindsight, however, charts its course through a whole different kind of zero gee; this made a trustworthy guide that much more important. So first let me thank Prof. Jaymie Matthews of the University of British Columbia: astronomer, partygoer, and vital serial sieve for all the ideas I threw at him. Let me also thank Donald Simmons, aerospace engineer and gratifyingly-cheap dinner date, who reviewed my specs for Theseus (especially of the drive and the Drum), and gave me tips on radiation and the shielding therefrom. Both parties patiently filtered out my more egregious boners. (Which is not to say that none remain in this book, only that those which do result from my negligence, not theirs. Or maybe just because the story called for them.)

David Hartwell, as always, was my editor and main point man at Evil Empire HQ. I suspect Blindsight was a tough haul for both of us: shitloads of essential theory threatened to overwhelm the story, not to mention the problem of generating reader investment in a cast of characters who were less cuddlesome than usual. I still don’t know the extent to which I succeeded or failed, but I’ve never been more grateful that the man riding shotgun had warmed up on everyone from Heinlein to Herbert.

The usual gang of fellow writers critiqued the first few chapters of this book and sent me whimpering back to the drawing board: Michael Carr, Laurie Channer, Cory Doctorow, Rebecca Maines, David Nickle, John McDaid, Steve Samenski, Rob Stauffer and the late Pat York. All offered valuable insights and criticisms at our annual island getaway; Dave Nickle gets singled out for special mention thanks to additional insights offered throughout the year, generally at ungodly hours. By the same token, Dave is exempted from the familiar any-errors-are-entirely-mine schtick that we authors boilerplate onto our Acknowledgements. At least some of the mistakes contained herein are probably Dave’s fault.

Profs. Dan Brooks and Deborah MacLennan, both of the University of Toronto, provided the intellectual stimulation of an academic environment without any of the political and bureaucratic bullshit that usually goes along with it. I am indebted to them for litres of alcohol and hours of discussion on a number of the issues presented herein, and for other things that are none of your fucking business. Also in the too-diverse-to-itemise category, André Breault provided a west-coast refuge in which I completed the first draft. Isaac Szpindel—the real one— helped out, as usual, with various neurophys details, and Susan James (who also really exists, albeit in a slightly more coherent format) told me how linguists might approach a First Contact scenario. Lisa Beaton pointed me to relevant papers in a forlorn attempt to atone for whoring her soul to Big Pharma. Laurie Channer acted as general sounding board, and, well, put up with me. For a while, anyway. Thanks also to Karl Schroeder, with whom I batted around a number of ideas in the arena of sentience-vs.-intelligence. Parts of Blindsight can be thought of as a rejoinder to arguments presented in Karl’s novel Permanence; I disagree with his reasoning at almost every step, and am still trying to figure out how we arrived at the same general endpoint.