May 13 2011

Peter Watts: Science Fiction Writer, Badass Superhero

Peter Watts first came to my attention via a post to Making Light describing his run in with US border patrol guards. You can read the whole story on his blog, but basically on December 8th of 2009, he and a friend were stopped while crossing a bridge on the US/Canadian border. Peter is a Canadian and was returning home from a SF convention. The guards immediately began searching the car. Peter tried to ask what was going on and was promptly pepper sprayed and confined in a chilly room for a night. Then, of course, they charged him and ultimately convicted him in Michigan on Friday March 19 2010. The charge was “failure to comply with a lawful command”, although it was never really apparently clear which command he didn’t comply with. This was a felony, so he isn’t allowed back in the US.
While following all of this, I made the happy discovery that Peter can write. He writes really good cutting edge hard SF. He’s got a PhD in marine biology and an imagination to back that up. I haven’t met him in person and since he can’t come to the US, that will get put into some far future occurrence. But, from all reports (and from his blog) he’s a really nice guy. Go read his stuff. Last year he won the Hugo for Best Novelette: “The Island”, Peter Watts (The New Space Opera 2; Eos). So, that was good and things were looking up.
Then, in February 2011, he “got hit with a serious case of necrotising fasciitis (more luridly known as “flesh-eating disease”).” This has been ongoing and he posted many interesting pictures on his blog. Go and look. He’s had the presence of mind to take pictures along the road to recovery and clean the gaping 10 inch wound. On his blog post yesterday after three months of recovery he show’s us first and final pictures of his own removal of the last staples after the skin graft. Then he tells us: “And after all this invalidity, my fitness and stamina have gone to shit; I ran a measly two miles the day the staples popped, managed three the day after that, and would have gone for four today if my calves hadn’t wussed out and got all stiff and sore overnight.”
If being able to run three miles after nearly having your leg eaten is wussing out, and for enduring a twisted version of a judicial process and for winning a Hugo, I say that Peter most certainly qualifies as a Badass Superhero Science Fiction Writer. (By the way, go read his stuff.)

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