An alien race send thousands of short lived probes to take a peek at earth. Now something is approaching the outer edges of our solar system so mankind sends a mission out to meet them.
In his Starfish sequence Watts postulated that living in the extreme environment of the ocean floor would require a very unusual mix of people and he continues that theme here. The ship is crewed by a bunch of genetically engineered oddities. None more so than the Vampire Captain, a member of the once extinct race that preyed on humans now resurrected through genetic technology.
This isn't necessarily an easy read. The action is often interrupted by meandering thoughts on the meaning and value of human consciousness. It is high quality hard sci fi but don't expect to come away cheered up.
Side note: the main protagonist suffered serious brain malfunction in his youth which has left him without empathy but with a remarkable algorithmic ability to explain things to people even when he doesn't actually understand them himself. His name is Siri. I think someone on Apple might have read this book.