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I am trying to remember a book I read about 20 years ago. The protagonist was operated on, and had his eyes removed, and so appeared blind. But he had some kind of implant, that worked like sonar, which gave him 360 degree "sight". Everything he saw was geometric rather than coloured. It took him a while to adapt to the new sight, but when the book starts, I think he is on a satellite world. And I vaguely remember some good fight scenes :)

6

Night Walk (1967) by Bob Shaw

From the Wikipedia article:

[...] Cherkassky fires his dart gun into Sam's eyes, permanently blinding him. He is taken to a secret prison complex in the southernmost tip of the most distant continent to convalesce. While he is there, he enlists the aid of the scientific elite in the ranks and files of the political prisoners there, and together they design a pair of electronic "sonar" eyes. Equipped with an audio feedback system depending on which direction he turns his "eyeglasses" or headgear, he discerns a different kind of audio tone. The whole operation is funded by Helen Juste for her private agenda. After they create a better device [Sam] Tallon and Winfield try to break out but while walking through the surrounding swamp Winfield gets hurt [..]

  • As I remember it, the "better device" mentioned here works by latching on the the eyesight of a nearby animal (or human). So he "sees" from another viewpoint than his own. – Fruitbat Aug 23 '14 at 9:37
  • @Fruitbat Indeed, the ID question scifi.stackexchange.com/q/14424/4918 asks about that part. – b_jonas Jan 11 at 21:50
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I think you are looking for Hot Sky at Midnight, a 1994 semi-dystopian novel by Robert Silverberg. A somewhat similar concept to the Bob Shaw work but rather than piggybacking through other, sighted creatures telepathically-ish like in that one, this blind-vision sense differs. In the Silverberg book, the blind-vision is the product of a combination of surgery and genetic modification that allows the recipient to pilot a ship through hyperspace. In the Silverberg setting, hyperspace travel itself has the side-effect of altering optics so much that normal vision is shut down (making piloting in hyperspace by a "normal" person impossible) ... but blind-vision is essentially unaffected. The 360-degree vision (which if I remember right has the limitations of a lesser range than conventional "normal" vision, plus, everything is now perceived as geometric shapes, requiring some readjustment) is a bonus deriving from the massively altered visual cortex that turns normal vision into blind-vision. I say "semi-dystopian" above because in the book, the Earth is facing massive climate change due to things humans have done BUT due to genetic engineering and hyperspace travel, humanity can either: 1) go extinct on the world they altered, OR 2) alter themselves to a new form that can survive on the altered planet, OR 3) go to a habitable exoplanet via hyperspace flight ... IF the pilots flying there are blind-vision altered! Rather than give in to editorializing, I'll just say, yeah, good fight scenes. The bit with the lady who makes psychic-empowered art that makes those who touch it have very specific FEELS imprinted by the artist was pretty wild, too. That seemed like a story hook in itself!

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