Another nice twist was that the leader of the small, rushed human expedition was a vampire. Vampires had been extinct for 6000 years but "jurassic park"ed back into existence. They have very different mental organization and are ruthless predators -- just who we need to meet aliens.
The reread was good. The main new thing I noticed this time through was that garden variety homo sapiens was being pretty much consigned to the dustbin of history, being replaced by cyborgs, AIs, and, of course, vampires.
I also noticed in an afterword a reference to the novel "Permanence", by Karl Schroeder (2003), and decided to give it a try. A good read, with some interesting use of new science. One of these concepts was that habitable planets could exist around brown dwarf "stars", and that these could be closer together than normal stars. Another was some ideas about consciousness similar to "Blindsight": that technological, conscious races become so because they are poorly adapted to their ecological niche. As eons pass and the race becomes better adapted, it will become increasingly unconscious and instinctive in its behavior. Also some good astro-archeology with artifacts of defunct alien interstellar civilizations.
I wonder if this was published as a Young Adult (YA) novel? The protagonist is a woman in her late teens, and there is a definite subplot of her hooking up with the right guy, i.e., we got us a chick flick here as well as a good hard sci-fi space opera. I know "Hunger Games" was YA. I've got the new Paulo Bacigalupi "Ship Breaker" on my iPad, it was listed as YA, the synopsis says the hero is a teenage boy. So does having a teenager as the protagonist make a novel YA? Seems like there are others ("Jumper" by Steven Gould comes to mind) that have teenage protagonists but weren't called YA. So I guess I'm confused by the YA designation.
Regardless, I've always loved stories with kids or teenagers as the protagonist. They make me think of how much I would have enjoyed reading them when I first started shoveling this stuff in, at age 12 or so.
Free stuff! I was going to buy some of Peter Watts' older stuff, but couldn't get the eBook for the 1st book of a trilogy he had published: "Starfish", "Maelstrom", and "Behemoth". Then found out, these are all available for free at his website. Also all his short stories. Pretty cool!
Karl Schroeder also has his novel "Ventus" available for free at his website. It's interesting how more options for obtaining books keep popping up. Nice!