The Watcher: Set in the far future, on the tribal world of Gaia, this debut science fiction novel tells the story of Tian, a young hunter struggling with loss of her childhood lover who disappeared under mysterious circumstances. When Tian’s tribe is threatened by violent slavers, she received help from a Watcher—a monstrous, mythical creature who is actually a genetically enhanced anthropologist from an advanced civilization. Through the juxtaposition of the precivilization tribes and the technologically advanced society of the Watchers, the novel explores themes of the role of ideology and tradition in daily life. – Goodreads
The Watcher Review
The Watcher is a ‘soft’ piece of science fiction in which two people from cultures at extreme opposite ends of the technology spectrum. Tian’s tribe eschews even agriculture, sticking to a purely hunter-gatherer way of life. Mori’s people are anthropologists who are so technologically advanced that they have implants connecting them to a system-wide ‘cloud’. When things start to go horribly wrong, Mori and Tian join forces to save her people. This interaction – which had been strictly forbidden to Mori’s people in the past – is a difficult one for the both of them. They struggle to overcome it even as they race towards conflict.
I’ve said it before – philosophy in science fiction is not my thing. It’s probably because I’m very action-driven, and thinking deep thoughts takes me away from my happy spot in Death! Fights! Blood! Battles! Space Disaster! Anyways. However, The Watcher does raise some interesting points. Like: Does a refusal to break from an established traditions strangle any chance of a society truly living? They can survive, true enough, but can they live? There’s a line where someone says “We’d rather fight the same ‘x’ a thousand times rather than kill them in cold blood.” Is it worth it to stick to your peace-loving beliefs when it puts the safety of your community at risk? Finally, if you have technology that could change someone’s life for the better, but would fundamentally alter their society… should you do it?
As you can see, those are some questions that can spur hours of debates if you let them. (Albeit the last one is the one most people are probably familiar with if they’ve thought about time travel at any length.) So, yes, if you like philosophy, you’ll like The Watcher. You can tell the author put a lot of thought into every aspect of his story. There are several levels to the story including young desiring change versus the crafty old codgers.
Overall, I can say that even though it didn’t suit me, I can see where people would love the book. The Watcher is not a light read. Some of the cruelest aspects of humanity are at the forefront. So you’ll have your philosophy with a side of death (and more). There’s only one thing that stops me from strongly recommending the book to certain people at this point. It badly needs edited. Really, really badly. You have double quotes in place of apostrophes, and errors that look like changes were suggested but not fixed. Eventually you grow numb to it, but it doesn’t make a good first impression on the reader. It’s knocked it down an entire level on my rating scale.
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Title: The Watcher | Author: Nicholas P. Oakley (site) | Publisher: See Sharp Press (site) | Pub. Date: 2013-11-1 | Pages: 230 | ISBN13: 9781937276454 | Genre: Soft Science Fiction & Philosophy | Language: English | Triggers: Rape | Foul Language Level: None | Rating: 3 out of 5 | Date Read: 2016-8-21 | Source: Received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
This cover creeps me out! Haha! Okay, now that that’s off my chest… I feel the same way about philosophy. It’s interesting whenever I seek it out to study, but I don’t usually care for it in my fiction. I’m sorry you didn’t love it, but great review!
Tracy @ Cornerfolds
The cover creeped me out at first too. Its definitely eye-catching and off-putting.
The philosophy thing put me completely off Dark Orbit (I think by Caroline Yves? Could be wrong.) It was 90 percent philosophy, 10 percent sci-fi. No no no no no.