Watts writes stuff steeped in hard- and plain-whacked- science. At times he's channeling journal articles as well as Alfred Bester--it caroms from pulp to cog-psych theory and can jar. (He also writes like he found Camus too sunny, and sought here to make amends.)
But a blast. Works as a revamped (ahem) version of the first-contact story. Aliens intrude at the edges of space, and a misfit team sent to greet them. Communication confounded, conflict inside the human craft, and trouble abounds.
Watts unravels our dreams about aliens, as a pointed provocation to get us to re-examine the alienness of our selves. He made me think about thinking, while simultaneously pleasing the kid-in-me wanting to read more about scary freaky monsters. As good as Bester, better than most working today.