Tuesday, April 08, 2008


Spin by Robert Charles Wilson won the Hugo in 2006. I was drawn into this one. It's not a straight chronological narrative. Although it all happens from one character's perspective the time shifts back and forth so you get hints of some future events long before they occur.

There were mentions of several science fiction books, which I found intriguing since I had read all of them. There were mentions of jazz musicians scattered through the book, and there was a self-comparison of one of the characters to Gloria Swanson's part in Sunset Boulevard. The thread in the novel having to do with the red calf in Biblical prophecy was interesting to me since I've known people who interpreted the Bible in the same way as some of the people in the book.

from the back of the book:

The time is the day after tomorrow, and three adolescents-Diane and Jason Lawton, twins, and their best friend, Tyler Dupree-are out stargazing. Thus they witness the erection of a planet-spanning shield around the globe, blocking out the universe. Spin chronicles the next 30-odd years in the lives of the trio, during which 300 billion years will pass outside the shield, thanks to an engineered time discontinuity. Jason, a genius, will invest his celibate life in unraveling cosmological mysteries. Tyler will become a doctor and act as our narrator and as Jason's confidante, while nursing his unrequited love for Diane, who in turn plunges into religious fanaticism. Along the way human-descended Martians will appear, bringing a drug that can elevate humans to the Fourth State, ‘an adulthood beyond adulthood.’ But will even this miracle be enough to save Earth?

Scifidimensions reviews it here. SFSignal has a review here. SFF.net covers it here.

SFReviews describes it this way:

Narrative techniques that from other writers might seem gimmicky or formulaic are handled with great finesse. Spin has a flashback structure, but its utilized sparingly, in a way that enhances your involvement. You really want to find out how our heroes got from there to here, and it's immensely satisfying to see how loose threads are carefully tied together, one by one. Wilson also isn't above the time-honored tradition of ending chapters on surprise reveals and cliffhangers, but compare how skilfully he does it

SFSite says,

What there is is a novel which, by grounding itself in real characters with real emotions, is all the more successful in its evocation of the sense of wonder that we expect from SF. Wilson has hit upon one of those basic dilemmas of human existence: How do you maintain a sense of hope and purpose in a universe where, the more you learn about it, the more it seems to have little or no room for either? Spin addresses the issue with style and substance, an approach that makes for one of the best science fiction novels of this or any year.

No comments:

Post a Comment