Underwater psychotics

Author Peter Watts is the wordsmith, or worldsmith, behind Rifters.com, a portal for his graphic, dark science-fiction novels. One space-time continuum displays the Rifters trilogy: Starfish, Maelstrom and Behemoth. In that universe, psychotic people are recruited to work in hydrothermal vents below the Earth’s ocean where a primeval life form dwells and eventually threatens the survival of the human species. Another timeline introduces readers to his space vampire novel, Blindsight. Surfing through Watts’ site feels like one hacked into a top-secret government experiment. Detailed renderings of deep-sea research stations, classified government memorandums about parasitic microbes and a scientific presentation about the anatomy of vampires (a.k.a. Homo sapiens whedonum, a great joke for Buffy fans) present a Web site that may in fact be from another universe—a dystopic one. With Watts’ scientific knowledge, vivid imagery and comedic prose as the guide, it is not difficult to accept his parallel universe as fact. In fact, it’s kind of exhilarating.