Read spin by Robert Charles Wilson Online


One night in October when he was ten years old, Tyler Dupree stood in his back yard and watched the stars go out. They all flared into brilliance at once, then disappeared, replaced by a flat, empty black barrier. He and his best friends, Jason and Diane Lawton, had seen what became known as the Big Blackout. It would shape their lives.Life on Earth is about to get much, mOne night in October when he was ten years old, Tyler Dupree stood in his back yard and watched the stars go out. They all flared into brilliance at once, then disappeared, replaced by a flat, empty black barrier. He and his best friends, Jason and Diane Lawton, had seen what became known as the Big Blackout. It would shape their lives.Life on Earth is about to get much, much stranger....

Title : spin
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 6581795
Format Type : Kindle Edition
Number of Pages : 468 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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spin Reviews

  • mark monday
    2019-05-01 02:09

    Spin is a Hugo award winner that wonders what would happen if the earth were forced to remain as it is while the universe around us aged at approximately 100 million years per earth year. as far as scifi concepts go, it is a fairly mind-boggling one. to compound matters further, scientists quickly realize that as the universe ages, the earth's chance for utter destruction increases - when and if the shield around the earth is eventually lifted. and that is what creates the human drama within Spin. the reader is given two big things to chew on: the more intellectual mystery of who is behind the shield and what is its purpose... and the more emotional drama of seeing how End Times will impact all of us silly humans. Spin succeeds in accomplishing its first goal; i found it to be less successful in reaching the second.the first goal is expertly achieved. Spin is in many ways 'pure science fiction'... it is not fantasy or historical fiction or metaphysical metaphor gussied up with scifi trappings. it takes a genuinely speculative approach to exploring the ramifications of this strange shield: what does it mean, what is its purpose, how does it impact us, how does it change us? everything connected to this central concept succeeds admirably. i really don't want to say much more on this, because part of the pleasure for me was finding out what was to come next - seeing the mystery explored, and open up into new mysteries. the one thing i will add was a plot turn that came out of the blue for me... how the earth could manipulate its new-found stasis. specifically, how the earth could terraform and then inhabit mars. one earth year = one hundered million regular years... terraforming & colonization that can take place within a few years! this was a really exciting development; even more thrilling was discovering all about this new martian world.for me, the second goal had more mixed results. i'll try to sum it up briefly: the earth goes bonkers. governments get even more paranoid, wars erupt, lawlessness is everywhere (which leads to a truly ironic ending for one particular character), suicides & murders increase, and religious feelings skyrocket. and so Spin is not just the tale of a fascinating scifi concept, but one about the human drama of What Is The Right Path To Take? when great and terrible things happen, how do we react, and what do our reactions say about us? what do we do when confronted with a state of absolute and infinite potentiality?and so Spin is both a novel of grand ideas, staggering possibilities, elaborate ways to wonder why and how and when and what if... and it is also a very intimate, small-scale chamber piece featuring three major characters and a handful of sharply dilineated supporting characters. each character has their own way of approaching these grand ideas and staggering possibilities.rather predictably, the second goal becomes a depressingly either/or type situation, with two of the major characters (the Scientist and the Zealot) embodying opposite ends of the spectrum and our protagonist landing somewhere (but not quite) in the middle. despite my complaints, Wilson's writing does not actually disappoint. he is not a pedantic author and his characters are sympathetically and realistically conceived and explored. they are alive. his narrative is not custom-built as a vehicle to express a certain dialectic and so i didn't feel as if the story was manipulated to prove certain points. nonetheless, i found this aspect of the novel to be rather tedious.i suppose these kinds of binary arguments just automatically aggravate me. what is up with humans always having to draw lines in the sand, ignoring the basic complexity of life, being unable to see multiple sides and multiple levels? why is it so hard to live with facts that any true adult knows to be truth: the world is a complicated place, humans are a complicated species, each individual encompasses many different things. we are a continuum - not a single, fixed point. right? perhaps i am an idealist (ha! sure). i feel these truths are self-evident... but as Spin and, oh, the entirety of human history attests, the species homo sapien usually chooses to reject such complexity. and so this sad spinning piece of rock and all of its denizens spins on.

  • Paul Bryant
    2019-05-07 09:06

    (note - satirical spoiler alerts ahoy)Robert Charles Wilson appears to be paid by the word - how else to account for such passages, and they are legion, as this :The day I left Perihelion the support staff summoned me into one of the now seldom-used boardrooms for a farewell party, where I was given the kind of gifts appropriate to yet another departure from a dwindling workforce : a miniature cactus in a terracotta pot, a coffee mug with my name on it, a pewter tie pin in the shape of a caduceus.Yeah right so the world is about to end and there are millenial cults trashing the place which the woman he loves has married into one of them and his friend the genius has a grim disease and there's this stuff about a man from Mars but let's suspend all that and get the pot, the mug and the tiepin down, don't want to let that stuff go by unrecorded. Yeah they're little human touches amongst the catastrophes but let me tell you, Robert Charles Wilson, the pot, the mug and the tiepin are boring and if I may say so, so is your protagonist, a guy you'd rather jab needles into your sinuses than share a railway journey with, Doctor Humourless Dullard should be his name, not Tyler Dupree, which sounds like a guy who made two blues records for Paramount in 1928, but anyway, I'm straying from the point - what was the point? Oh yeah, a 450 page Hugo Award winning novel about the usual stuff - The End Of Life As we Know It. For most of the 450 pages the world's going to end, and by page 350 as I read I was thinking "come on, end! End now! End! Put us out of our misery!" but the world kept not ending and by page 390 this became distressing. Maybe I'm a bad person. So maybe if there has to be an Apocalypse we'd all vote for the kind where you have time to buy each other terracotta tie pins. It's just that it's more exciting reading about the other kind.Sings with guitar accompaniment :"I could've bought you a tiepin, didn't mean to be unkindBut tiepins were the last thing on my mind"Two and a half stars.*Two bad tempered thoughts - the final Big Idea in Spin can also be found in Clifford Simak's lovely 1959 novella called the Big Front Yard. That one won the Hugo in 1959. And - there's a quote on the front cover of Spin which must be the worst marketing quote ever. It says "The best science fiction novel of the year so far" - Rocky Mountain News. So far? How do we know whether that review was in the February issue and they were expecting much better stuff next month?

  • Josh
    2019-05-14 05:08

    This is one of those rare science fiction books that lets you wonder and imagine and forget that it's science fiction at all. Many sci-fi authors lean too heavily on the science and speculation and not enough on the fiction, creating interesting premises but characters that are two dimensional. Wilson does not have that problem here. His characters are fully fleshed, flawed and realistic and it is these characters that move Spin along so well. This is not to say that this book lacks in science and its implications. Spin starts with the main characters star-gazing as they whitness the night sky and all of it's stars vanish, due to a planet encompasing barrier that slows down time on the earth as eons pass outside. So much time passes outside the barrier that the sun itself grows old. This opens all kinds of possibilities and you wonder at first how Wilson will be able to reasonably explain a phenomenon on such a grand scope. Smartly, Wilson deals with the global implications of this as much as the science. He paints an eerie picture of the planet as it would be shrouded under something so large and unknown. Religions are formed around this phenomenon as well as economic disaster. Tyler, our main POV and the two other main characters live through these events and Wilson does a good job of making you feel as if you were actually there. These are characters you care about, which makes their ordeals feel all too real. This is why I would recommend this book to anyone, to fans of sci-fi or not. There is plenty here for the sci-fi junky as well as fans of character fiction. In the end, Wilson does a good job of wrapping up loose ends and doesn't leave you unfulfilled. His explanations are smart and make sense, though they may leave some dissapointed that were hoping for something more conventional. Take from it what you will, this is great science fiction reminiscent of Arthur C. Clarke and I'll count it among my favtorite sci-fi along with Dune and Hyperion.

  • James Williams
    2019-05-06 10:14

    This was some of the best science fiction I've read in years. Heck, it was one of the best books I've read in years.This is the sort of book that I babble about. It's hard to write down what's good about it because everything about it is good. Everything about it is amazing, really, so there's no good starting place. It all just comes out in a rush of Plot/Big Ideas/writing style/characters/character relationships/tragedy/humor/everything. If you've ever enjoyed a sci-fi book, read it. If you think you might one day enjoy a sci-fi book, read it. It's one of the best books I've ever read. On my personal list, I can unashamedly rank it right up next to books by Dickens. Five stars isn't a high enough rating and I like the skills to really express how much I loved this book. So just assume that I really, really, really loved it. It's on my list to read again next year. I can't wait to see how it ages after I've spent a year thinking about it. I'm really looking forward to the re-read. Which is probably the highest praise I can give.

  • Nancy
    2019-05-18 02:50

    Spin was my third exposure to Robert Charles Wilson, a writer who has yet to disappoint me. He is not a "hard" sci-fi writer. Instead, the author writes about regular people and their ways of coping with major changes in their lives and environments. Spin is a very compelling story with believable, yet not overwhelming, scientific details and realistic characters. This is the type of SF novel that I would not hesitate to recommend to readers of high-quality, literary fiction who may want to explore the genre.

  • Carol.
    2019-05-01 02:11

    I've always loved star gazing. Perhaps it was Greek mythology that hooked me; I could look up and find the Big Dipper, the Little Dipper, and later transform them into Ursa Major and Minor. Cassiopeia would appear late in the summer, arms outstretched on her throne. Orion was easy to pick out, and once I found him, I could find the Pleiades--the seven sisters--grouped together running away. Orion held a special spot in my heart, being one of the few strong enough to brave the Los Angeles skies when I was away at school. When I took astrophysics and learned about spiral galaxies, white dwarfs, and black holes, my imagination was captured by the sky in a different way.It's clear why Spin won a Hugo. Stars. Inventive science. Family expectations. Coming of age. Engineering evolution. Human-descended Martians. Mysterious aliens. For me, Spin was a slow-moving, thoughtful book, the kind that doesn't quite keep you reading from excitement, but from simple human curiousity and interest. Told from the viewpoint of Tyler Dupree, a well developed, high-achiever Everyman, the kind of character most people reading would likely identify with; shades of inadequacy and affection are mixed up in his friendship with Diane and Jason, the twins living in the Big House. One night when they are teens, the stars go out. Blink--no more stars. Thankfully, the sun still rises. From there, their lives change forever; in subtle fashion for Diane and Tyler, and more directly with Jason, who wholeheartedly pursues the mystery. We learn about the mystery as Tyler does, and I appreciate the deliberate way it is explored. The science was explained enough to catch interest, and even more fascinating questions are raised when the temporal ramifications of the shield become clear. Eventually, Spin perhaps attempts to achieve too much; as the trio grows older, the looming effects of the phenomenon become more clear, and they grapple with larger political and social issues that aren't always well explained. I found myself most interested when Tyler and Jason's professional lives intersected, and more of the Spin was explored. The story is narrated from Tyler's viewpoint, and is broken into two timelines, sometimes well, sometimes more awkwardly. At times when it becomes a little like a story based on a thought experiment, it's saved by the thoughtful and well-rounded development of the characters. I have a feeling it's the sort of story that I would appreciate even more after another read or two, so I'm glad it's joined my shelves.Cross posted at

  • Felicia
    2019-05-20 07:48

    Well, the PREMISE of this book is amazing. The science and concept are just sooo interesting, an intelligent being puts a "bubble' around earth, so that time is super slow INSIDE, but 3 or 4 years passes every second OUTSIDE the bubble, in space?! I was so enamored of that world-building, until the lack of interest in the characters made me peter out about 2/3 in. I dunno, lots of people enjoyed this from the reviews, and it won a Hugo, so I guess I'm a bit crazy. Definitely concept-interesting, but in practice, didn't hook me as much as I wanted. Still great SF concept!

  • Wealhtheow
    2019-05-11 02:57

    How the FUCK did this book win a Hugo?It's not hard to explain, I suppose: insert infodumps of "hard" sf every few pages, focus the book on a bland every-man who pines for his untouchable childhood sweetheart, add a couple monologues about how humanity just wants to understand the universe but oh god it's so vast, and boom, a paint-by-the-numbers Hugo winner. It was SO FUCKING MIND-NUMBINGLY BORING.Putting aside the main character, who has the internal life of a turnip and possibly even less of an external life (seriously all he does is follow Jason and Diane around and listen to their infodumps), the plot is nonexistent. Here's the premise: when Tyler and his bffs Jason and Diane are children, a membrane encloses the earth. A certain amount of sunlight is allowed through, but otherwise our planet is enclosed into almost cryogenic stasis, as one hundred million years pass outside the membrane and only one year within it. On the one hand, this means that within a single human lifetime, the sun will die. On the other hand, it means that when humans can remotely accomplish things in outer space we'd never dream of otherwise, like terraforming Mars in what seems to us like a single day. Cool! Unfortunately, this awesome astro stuff takes second seat to the interminable explanations of the incredibly obvious. Not a single chapter goes by without someone (er, let me rephrase--someone male. There are three supporting female characters: one is a religious nut, one says very little, and one is a drunk whose alcoholism is mentioned LITERALLY EVERY SINGLE TIME she is mentioned and who seems to exist solely so Tyler will seem well-informed in comparison. Absolutely none of these women have much in the way of dialog or personality, and none of them have agency in the plot.) telling another character something obvious. Here's an example: She [Jason's mom, a physician who is now an alcoholic, oh hey, did I mention she drinks? She drinks. She's always drinking!] looked genuinely frightened. "Is any of this true, Jason?""Most all of it," Jason said calmly. "Are we really on the brink of disaster?""We've been on the brink of disaster since the stars went out.""I mean about oil and all that. If the Spin hadn't happened, we'd all be starving?""People are starving. They're starving because we can't support seven billion people in North American-style prosperity without strip-mining the planet."WOW. Jason is the only person to have ever realized we might run out of oil. This is an example of a big problem with this book: the only way Jason and Tyler are able to be smart is by writing everyone around them as ignoramuses. At another point, Tyler goes off on his hot young fuck-buddy because she dismisses Spin as "We're in a sort of cosmic baggie and the universe is spinning out of control, yada yada yada." This pretty accurate summary apparently warrants a two-page diatribe wherein Tyler decries the common public's astronomical ignorance. Jason or Tyler explains the idea that time passes differently inside and outside the membrane surrounding the earth like fifteen times in this book. Thanks, but I got it the first time; it's not that complex an idea. Wilson has an annoying tendency to try to create tension by cutting people off in the middle of exposition, just when they're poised to reveal something big. Aside from the clear artificiality of the device, the reveals are never actually that surprising. (view spoiler)[OMG the aliens had a reason for putting the earth inside a time-controlling membrane! OMG the mysterious love letters came from a woman! OMG other races have come up with the idea of sending out self-replicating networks to transmit data! OMG the Martians actually have their own culture! Duh. (hide spoiler)]Sorry for all the capslock. This book was a disappointment.

  • Clouds
    2019-05-12 03:49

    Following the resounding success of my Locus Quest, I faced a dilemma: which reading list to follow it up with? Variety is the spice of life, so I’ve decided to diversify and pursue six different lists simultaneously. This book falls into my HUGO WINNERS list.This is the reading list that follows the old adage, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". I loved reading the Locus Sci-Fi Award winners so I'm going to crack on with the Hugo winners next (but only the post-1980 winners, I'll follow up with pre-1980 another time).Spin was my first meeting with Robert Charles Wilson and I came away impressed and disappointed in equal measure.Glowing reviews from Goodreads members had raised the bar of expectation... too far.Let’s start with the good: the premise is excellent, a really original and compelling idea. What would happen if one night the stars just went out? Some hypothetical alien race (or God?) has wrapped the Earth in a bubble, a membrane – an event, christened by us Earthlings as the Spin. The membrane is sophisticated, it allows sunlight through to enable our biosphere to survive and it allows us to send probes, etc, out to investigate its nature. But it doesn’t take long to realise that the bubble is messing with time – it’s flowing a lot faster outside the bubble than inside... like a million times faster.Some hypothetical alien race (or God?) has put Earth on slow-mo, like a museum exhibit, while the universe grows old around it.I think that’s an amazing idea! It throws up so many questions and I’ve never read anything like it before. So from pure premise, we’re at a 5-star start.So next we need our human lens on this story – if it was put to me, I’d have probably suggested multiple protagonists spread around key countries, to give a sense of the varied reactions and consequences to this global predicament, with a matter-of-fact tone, in the style of Robinson’s Mars trilogy.Wilson prefers to keep the lens a little tighter – he focuses on one family, specifically twin boy-girl siblings who are teenagers at the time of the Spin. The boy, Jason is a physics genius destined for great things – and their father is a big player in the American aerospace industry. So Jason grows up as one of the key thinkers in the human reaction, a leader in the fight. His sister, Diane, takes the opposite path – throwing herself into the religious reaction, apocalypse is coming, etc. Good idea, very interesting to see the different stages of that journey. Again, if we’re talking concepts, with an editor hat on – so far, so good – I can see this all working.And then... and then Wilson takes an additional step which I didn’t understand and didn’t like. He brings in an additional character as the narrator. Dr Tyler Dupree. Tyler is the son of Jason and Dianne’s housekeeper. He lives in the cottage on the corner of their estate. He’s their friend as they grow-up. He’s a decent, smart, everyman. He’s been placed in the story to give readers an easy ride, to give them someone they can relate to and experience this madcap world with. He’s supposed to ground the story. Where Jason and Dianne represent the extremes, Tyler is just a normal guy trying to make the best out of things and muddle along.I hated Tyler. No, wait, hate is too strong a word. I was bored by Tyler. I pitied Tyler. Tyler is nothing to this story... Jason is a world changer, and Tyler is his tag-along buddy. Dianne is an emotional rollercoaster and Tyler is her childhood sweetheart. Tyler himself is an emotional vacuum, paralysed by circumstances outside of his control playing it safe every step of the way.For me, this story would have been far more dramatic, tense, emotional, vivid, gripping – all the good things I look for in a story – without Tyler. Why couldn’t we just follow Jason and Dianne first-hand, rather than hearing a reduced and diluted version of their tales through wet-rag Tyler? We could have been seeing the life that inspired Jason’s schemes (and those schemes are brilliant!) rather than the every day tedium that is Tyler.I’m going to quote the book and Paul’s review here – because he nailed it:The day I left Perihelion the support staff summoned me into one of the now seldom-used boardrooms for a farewell party, where I was given the kind of gifts appropriate to yet another departure from a dwindling workforce : a miniature cactus in a terracotta pot, a coffee mug with my name on it, a pewter tie pin in the shape of a caduceus.Yeah right so the world is about to end and there are millenial cults trashing the place which the woman he loves has married into one of them and his friend the genius has a grim disease and there's this stuff about a man from Mars but let's suspend all that and get the pot, the mug and the tiepin down, don't want to let that stuff go by unrecorded. Yeah they're little human touches amongst the catastrophes but let me tell you, Robert Charles Wilson, the pot, the mug and the tiepin are boring and if I may say so, so is your protagonist, a guy you'd rather jab needles into your sinuses than share a railway journey with, Doctor Humourless Dullard should be his name, not Tyler Dupree, which sounds like a guy who made two blues records for Paramount in 1928, but anyway, I'm straying from the point - what was the point?So I’m not alone with my gripe here, even if I’m swimming against the tide. A lot of people found the Tyler-device to be stonking success – it helped non-sci-fi geeks to get a handle on this very human, very accessible story. I can see that – I can – but I’m not that reader. I am the sci-fi-geek, and I found it unnecessary and irritating. Far too much drivel amidst the gems for anything more than a three-star rating, and far too many gems amongst the drivel for anything less.After this I read: A Squash and a Squeeze

  • Jim
    2019-05-16 04:45

    3.5 rounded up because the ideas were so big & beautiful. It truly was a work of art, but it felt both too long & too short. It also never really grabbed me. The characters seemed real enough, but none of them ever really grabbed me & they should have. They were complex & strong enough in so many ways, but I never really cared if they lived or died.The scope of the plot was audacious & yet pulled off very well. I've been reading SF for 40 years & it wowed me. It had everything from politics & religion to aliens & terraforming. It was apocalyptic & hopeful, too. Very, very cool & written in a very easy to read style. At times the debating got a little out of hand, but that was easy enough to skim over.Well worth reading.

  • Megan Baxter
    2019-05-08 07:12

    What knocked me out about this book was not the science half of the story, which was great, but the depth of the characters Wilson creates, and varied situations that occur and the breadth of the possible responses people have to a literally incomprehensible change in the way the world works. Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook

  • Yaprak
    2019-04-28 07:53

    Dönüş bitti fakat şu an kitap hakkındaki hislerimi sadece ünlemlerle anlatabiliyorum...Kısaca bayıldım!Kafamı bir toplayayım ayrıntılı yorumu da gelecek!Düzeltme: Yorum geldi...

  • Claudia
    2019-05-15 08:48

    Even if RCW’s works aren’t overflowed with optimism, this one was really depressing. It gave me such a feeling of hopelessness, more so because of the first person narration. Tyler Dupree was a child when the stars in the sky vanished on an October evening. He and his only friends, the twins Jason and Diane, watched the event which changed their lives forever.The Earth was surrounded by a sort of membrane, called the Spin, outside of which times fly by very differently: “One terrestrial second equals 3.17 years Spin time.” Sun is expanding and without the Spin, the Earth will soon be gone.What follows we get to see through Tyler’s blasé eyes – he’s not however unconcerned, he just accepts the new surrounding reality and adjusts by it. Not the case with his friends though: Jason’s only purpose in life became the study of the Spin and the ones behind it and Diane, terrified by it, is ‘hiding’ behind a new religion. He became the steady pillar for the two, the balancing link between a world thrown into chaos and their own feelings.As his other novels, this one is not action, but character driven. RCW follows human behavior facing a possible extinction. And it’s not a pleasant experience, mostly because he has a gift of making the experience so real. But it was an astonishing one; the scale of it is mind blowing. There were some chapters too dragged and Tyler’s submission was hard to swallow at times, but is all part of the characters development.If not for the ending, I would have taken a break until the second part, because this one kind of drained me. But a sparkle of hope at the end and curiosity made me to keep going.

  • Oscar
    2019-05-02 04:10

    Al comienzo de ’Spin’, uno de los personajes está inyectando una droga a otro, y mediante una sucinta descripción, Wilson nos indica que no nos encontramos en la Tierra que conocemos normalmente. A partir de aquí, haciendo uso de flashbacks iremos sabiendo de las vicisitudes por las que han ido pasando tanto los protagonistas como su entorno. Wilson es fiel a sí mismo, y como en el resto de su obra, parte de un fenómeno extraño y extraordinario que trastoca la vida de las personas. Me resisto a comentar cuál es este hecho, aunque leyendo cualquier sinopsis de la novela, se sabe enseguida.Los personajes más importantes de la historia son tres: los gemelos Jason y Diane, y el amigo de ambos, Tyler, verdadero protagonista de la novela, ya que toda la trama la conocemos a través de su punto de vista. Wilson sabe transmitirnos perfectamente el sentir de los personajes, sus sentimientos y pensamientos. De igual manera, Wilson no olvida la parte científica y tecnológica, y nos va desvelando las investigaciones y descubrimientos debidos al llamado Spin, reflexionando sobre sus implicaciones a todos los niveles, políticos, religiosos y personales.’Spin’ es una muy buena novela de ciencia ficción hard ligera, que mezcla a la perfección la ciencia con las relaciones personales de los protagonistas, todo ello narrado de manera muy fácil por Wilson. El único pero que se le puede poner, es que le sobran algunas páginas. Decir también, que ’Spin’ forma parte de una trilogía, pero que la novela se cierra satisfactoriamente.

  • Dawn
    2019-05-09 04:45

    I'm going to preface this review with a brief.. Prologue. Honestly, I just can't think of anything else to call it, so I'm going with prologue. My review has a prologue. Deal with it.I'm a big fan of the fantasy genre. Science fiction? Not so much. It's always driven me nuts that science fiction and fantasy fans are sort of lumped together. Yes, we are forced to share a space at most book stores. But the two genres are so different. I love fantasy.. Swords and castles, heroes and villains, imaginary worlds and magic, all of it. Science fiction though... Admittedly, I haven't read much of it. But what I have read has always seemed so bogged down by techno babble and science mumbo jumbo, it always ends up feeling like work to read it. I read for enjoyment.. Not to learn how a flux capacitor actually works. So needless to say, I was apprehensive about reading this book. It is, without a doubt, science fiction. But I'm so glad I went ahead and read it anyway, it turned out to be one of the best / most enjoyable books I've read so far this year. Unlike the other science fiction novels that I've read, this one didn't get bogged down with technical descriptions. It was easy to read, and had a lot of interesting concepts. I don't know whether it's particularly original or unique, I don't have enough science fiction experience to make that call, but it felt original and unique to me. I enjoyed reading this book, and when I put it down I always found my mind lingering on it, wondering what was going to happen next, what the full story was. It had that special something that compels you to keep picking it up and reading more (or it did for me at least).This comes damn close to a 5 star rating, it's probably a 4.5. It's only getting a 4 because I don't like to round up to 5 stars. Highly recommended, give it a try. Who knows, it surprised me, maybe it will surprise you too!

  • Apatt
    2019-05-08 03:58

    One flavor of sci-fi that I particular enjoy is when the story is set in the present day. Galaxy spanning future worlds are great, but the sort of scenario where we start off with the present day world we are living in and weirdness ensue is often a lot of fun. It also has the advantage of being immediately accessible (usually) as there are less world building and neologism to familiarize with. Some good examples of such sf books would be The Midwich Cuckoos, Childhood's End, The War of the Worlds, and Way StationSpin is another fine example of this type of science fiction. While it is quite easy to get into it is not short on “sensawonder” and there is some very interesting world building (in a very literal sense) later on in the book. I tend to avoid writing synopses (lazy you know) but sometime it is an unavoidable integral part of the review. The basic premise in a nutshell is aliens put a black bag over the Earth inside which time runs much slower than outside the bag. Of course this is a very rough simplification because the bag is not a bag as such, it is some kind of cosmic membrane encasement, which comes with an artificial sun. The implication of this situation is quite intriguing as time whizzes by outside this encasement our Sun will evolve into a red giant in a few billion years and its gargantuan size will eventually render poor old Earth uninhabitable. The process takes a few billion years but that only gives Earth a few years as we are in a slow time environment while time speed by outside. I will not go into the why and wherefore of it of course.With that premise you would expect some kind of hard sf where the story is paramount and the individual characters merely facilitate to drive the plot. Surprisingly this is not the case at all. Wilson puts equal emphasis on developing his characters as he does the epic sci-fi concept. There is a lot of human melodrama which verges on soap operatic at times. What with the unrequited love of the main protagonist and the story of childhood friendship that reminds me of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn a little.I don’t want to go into any more details as they are well worth discovering for yourself. Beside the ingenious story and the characterization the book is also very well written. I entirely agree with what Jo Walton wrote in her review:"This is the kind of book that makes me feel excited by science fiction all over again. It makes me want to jump up and down and say “Read it, read it, read it!” to all my friends."Never a truer word spoken.Edit June 10, 2014: Spin is being adapted for a TV series.

  • Traci
    2019-05-01 09:13

    I think I might be getting a new author crush. Lol. You know the feeling. The euphoria of finding a new favorite. The urge to rush to the nearest bookstore and wipe out their inventory. Which I tried, my nearest B&N didn't cooperate.Spin begins with the stars blinking off in the night sky...and that's all I'm going to say. If you plan to read this don't read the synopsis. I didn't read the back of the book until I was a bit into it...and like a movie trailer it gives away some of the best parts. In some ways it works as a mystery. A WTH is going on kind of mystery. Think Lost. But with plot. The reader follows three protagonists. Our narrator Tyler Dupree who gives us the everyday man point of view. Jason Lawton who follows the science route. And his twin sister Diane who seeks comfort in religion. I didn't know going in that this is a trilogy (I think) but even so most questions got answered. Take that Lost! However it does end with a...okay can I go too? It just kind of ends in a spot you'll want to continue. And having read the description for the second book I know what not to expect.This is a perfect example of how I like my science fiction. Not too easy. But don't have to be a rocket scientist to understand. I love being confused as long as the author can rein his or her story in by the finale. I love to think! And I found this, and a short story I had read before by same author, to be reminiscent of my favorites. Asimov. Clarke. Poul Anderson. Loved it.The rating might should be a 4½ or a 4¾, but coming so close I'm bumping it up.Highly recommended. Don't know why I waited so long.

  • Wendy
    2019-05-18 04:55

    One night, the stars go out. The earth has been shielded, and it's soon discovered that time is passing much more rapidly outside the barrier. This means the death of the sun (and the end of the world) is fast approaching. The human race reacts with denial, hedonism, religiosity, despair, and clever scientific schemes which may offer some hope.Loved the main idea but got tired of the slow pace, language, and characters and eventually skipped through to see how the story would play out. Everything in the book was so overly dramatic; small mysteries and events are built up almost as much as the major stuff. There was an almost constant sense of foreboding about everything which just got wearing and felt out of balance. As a result, some things that should have been more dramatic (like the things involving the actual baddies in the book) just fell really flat. And I got really tired of the main character's obsession with his childhood crush. All the characters just seemed stagnant, actually.(Incidentally, the book jacket sums up pretty much all of the scientific developments that occur, while the book plows along with the smaller scale effects on the main characters. If you just want the sci-fi plot, read the cover.)Great setup, not much done with it. Could easily have been condensed into a much better book or short story.

  • Jamie Collins
    2019-05-05 07:01

    I loved the first 3/4 of this book. The story of the spin and mankind's reaction to it was fascinating, and the characterization was pretty good, but all the while I could see an unsatisfying ending coming: the author chose to alternate between two time periods and the later one was consistently less appealing to me.The fast-forwarding of the universe was great: a terraformer's dream. It was a little creepy to be reminded how tiny and insignificant humanity really is.The revelation of the spin's origin and purpose was not quite what I wanted it to be. I tend to like small-scale, more comprehensible science fiction, without omnipotent aliens or advanced technology that is indistinguishable from magic. The spin itself was quite grandiose, but it was handled in a practical manner, whereas the rapid influx of concepts at the end seemed vague, magical and rushed.But this was still a very good book. I'll read more by Wilson.

  • Stephen
    2019-04-24 06:03

    4.0 stars. The ideas in this book get at least 5 stars and the novel should be read solely for that. The story and the characters are also pretty good and the overall read is very satisfying. Winner: Hugo Award for Best Science Fiction NovelNominee: John W. Campbell Award for Best Science Fiction NovelNominee: Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel

  • Red
    2019-05-03 07:13

    THe earth is suddenly enclosed in a alien forcefield. It blocks out views of the stars, the sun and the moon. Time inside the "Spin membrane" slows on a millennial scale. No apparent change on the planet, but outside the "spin" 100,000 years go by for every earth day that passes. It lets the author (and thereby the characters) play with the universe on a god-like scale. Small events can make huge changes over geologic time frames, and are easy to watch when that means just a few days to the humans. But, the questions remain, who did this to the earth? Why? How will mankind respond?This book is a hard sell, it's bleak and depressing and I wonder why I am still reading it. And it's long. I'm not overly fond of the storytelling style, at times we had 3 time-lines going, and the story itself is all about time. I particularly don't like that we are told in a future time-line chapter, the ultimate outcome of certain events. Then we must painfully slog through the next series of present day chapters just to see how they got to the end point. So there is no question of what will happen, but only, how did they end up there? The real question is, do I care? None of the characters are particularly endearing, in fact I don't really like anyone. So why am I still reading this?Final verdict: The end is not worth the journey. Skip this one.

  • Amy
    2019-05-01 06:14

    Why did the stars suddenly go out on an October night? This is the type of book that you wish someone else is reading at the exact same time as you are so that you can immediately discuss all the "did that just happen?" moments. I really wish my husband had been reading it at the same time as me so that I could ask if he'd ever seen any of the various plot elements put together this way in his vast reading of sci-fi. It's a story about time travel, but it's not. It's a story about an apocalyptic event, but it's not. It's a story about alien contact, but it's not. It's a story about meeting god, but it's not. And that's about all that I can say without giving away entirely too much. It's much better to go in blind. Long before I finished reading, this had become an instant favorite. It's one of those books you want to recommend to nearly everyone. Robert Charles Wilson writes in a way that is highly accessible to even non sci-fi readers. It took me reading nearly the entire book before I realized he's also the writer of Julian Comstock: A Story of 22nd-Century America, another book I fully enjoyed this year. Of course, I'm looking forward to reading the sequels to Spin (the 3rd in the series just came out), but I'm also determined to read everything else he's written. I'm smitten. Truly and absolutely smitten.Edit After 2nd ReadingEven after a second read of this book, and it's still at the top of my list of all time favorites. But I think it's because the concept really appeals to me as one who loves time travel novels more for imagining the future than reliving the past. What is the possible future evolution of man taken to the extreme? The sequels go far beyond what I expected in showing this. Would we be more likely to take on big projects requiring thousands or millions of years to come to fruition if we were able to see the end results for ourselves with the help of a sort of time travel? How would humans react to a tangible and undeniable evidence of intelligent life beyond humanity? Would they assume it was the hand of a god or an alien intelligence? How would humanity react to an impending apocalypse? Reading this the second time in light of current world events, I'm seeing that the author hit the nail on the head with how a large portion of humanity would be in denial because they can't understand what's going on around them. They'd treat scientific explanations or predictions of the future as "fake news"--something political, a coverup, a scare tactic, anti-religious rhetoric, etc.--just as Jennifer mentioned that people do today concerning climate change, extinctions, etc. Even those who believed and understood the coming apocalypse would have different reactions: become depressed, party like there's no tomorrow, live like every day is just an ordinary day, seek solace in religion, or look for a solution. And I think Wilson has aptly shown these things.Ratings from my friends on this book seem to be either in the hate-it or love-it camp with not much in between. Those who like it seem to enjoy it as a novel exploring a big idea and people's reaction to it. Those who don't like it often don't like that it jumps back and forth in time. I prefer a straightforward novel, but it didn't bother me. Some people mention not believing in the characters, but they seemed like normal people to me: the gruff and impersonal father, the genius scientist brother married to his work, the sister who doesn't know how to express her feelings or know her own feelings because she's grown up in an environment where feelings are kept under wraps, and the neighbor boy whose personality is derived from always just being along for the ride because he's been drawn into the orbit of this family. In fact, I feel as if the characters have more depth in this novel than in MOST of Wilson's other novels (including the final novel of this series which is a little character-flat). As for the sequels, they follow a second set of characters and deal with terraforming, augmented human biology, nanobots, collective hive-mind networking, and star gates. Just the execution of the scale of the series and the concepts were impressive to me. Just how far can human evolution go? What's possible? What are the repercussions? If those concepts sound interesting to you and you enjoyed this novel, you'll be just as besotted with the rest of the series.

  • ashley c
    2019-04-23 06:09

    Spin for me was exactly the sort of thing I can curl up with on the couch on a quiet evening after dinner - it's a thoughtful and character-focused book balanced out with consistent spurts of action that keeps you hooked. The story, in it's core, is centered around the lives of three best friends from chilldhood to adulthood as they experience the Spin, a shield covering planet Earth, clearly put there by alien intelligence. These three people experience and react to the Spin in very different, relatable ways - grandiose ambitions thrive, dysfunctional coping mechanisms manifest, and relationships change in uncontrollable ways for better or worse. It's beautiful the way Wilson captures what is quintessentially human - by showing us how the world and all its governments, religions, civilians, criminals, businessmen, and scientists react to the Spin and how different agendas clash. "How much do you really need to know about the moon and the stars when your life consists of scrounging enough biomass to feed yourself and your family?"I love how it is the people of the story that moves the premise; the plot doesn't charge ahead, leaving its characters behind. The plot is the backbone of the story and the characters are the brains and the flesh. In this sense the characters have the autonomy. They hold your hand and lead you through their lives as they find their place in the post-Spin world. It's a heartwarming feeling."Diane and Jason had been born minutes apart but were obviously fraternal rather than identical siblings; no one but their mother called them twins. Jason used to say they were the product of "dipolar sperm penetrating oppositely charged eggs." Diane, whose IQ was nearly as impressive as Jason's but who kept her vocabulary on a shorter leash, compared them to "different prisoners who escaped from the same cell."I'm really excited to read the next two installments for this series.

  • Maggie K
    2019-05-05 06:55

    I really LOVED this book. I had to think about it for a day or two to decide whether to rate it a 4.5 or a 5, but the fact that i was thinking about it brought it over the edge-lol.The novel follows the thoughts of Tyler Dupree after the stars are just shut off one night. One storyline follows that evening during his teenage years up until it is revealed exactly what happened to them, while the other plot followsthe present day urge to hide from the government fallout of what is happening in the heavens.Nothing that happened was predictable, which is always a big + to me.

  • Harmonyofbooks
    2019-04-20 07:51

    Bahçeden geçerken gördüğüm gökyüzü; iç karartıcı, son derece siyah, tüy gibi fakat ağır ve gördüğüm bütün göklerden daha karaydı.4,5/5🌟🌟🌟🌟Henüz okuduğum bilim kurgular arasında okumak konusunda bu kadar hevesli olduğum ilk kitaptı. Başladığı gibi daha elli sayfa okumakla elimden bırakmak istemedim çünkü bilim kurgu havasının haricinde kitapta harika bir kurgu vardı. Tyler, Diane ve Jason bir ekim gecesi gökyüzünden yıldızların kaybolmasına tanık oluyorlar. İkiz kardeşler olan Diane ve Jason oldukça yüksek bir aileden gelirken Tyler ise bu ailenin yardımcısı olan kadının oğludur. Aslında Tyler'in babası ölmeden önce ikizlerin babasıyla oldukça yakındır fakat babasının ölümünden sonra ikizlerin ailesi için, özellikle de babaları için hademe sınıfından farkları kalmaz. Kitapta ilk başta hem yıldızların kaybolduğu zamanı hem de Tyler'ın bu olayın üzerinden seneler geçmesinin ardından dünya hakkında düşüncelerini okuyoruz. Bu olaya küçük yaşta şahit oldukları için gelecekte dostlukları devam edecek mi, Diane ve Tyler arasında herhangi bir şey geçecek mi diye çok merak ediyordum. Daha sonra kitabın yarısına geldiğimizde Tyler'in doktor olduğu zamanları ve Jason'la dostluğunun devam ettiği kısımların yanı sıra araya sıkıştırılan başka bölümlerde bölük pörçük Tyler'in bir hastalığın pençesinde olduğunu okuyoruz. Bir ara kitaba odaklanmak konusunda zorlandım. Bu da zaten bahsettiğim ikili bölümlerde oldu. Daha sonrasında yan karakterlerin bölümlere dahil olmasıyla hangisinin geçmişte, hangisinin şuan yaşadığında aklımda oturttum. Kitabın asıl konusu da dünyanın sonunun yaklaşmasını anlatıyor. Yıldızların kaybolduğu geceden sonra sabah güneş tekrar doğuyor fakat çok geçmeden bu güneşin sahte olduğu ortaya çıkıyor. Ayrıca kitapta beni en çok şaşırtan kısımlardan biri Mars'ta yaşayan yerel bir halkın olduğu hatta Çinli diye tabiri geçen bir adamın dünyaya konuk edilmesiydi. Yani orada yaşayan farklı bir tür gibi bir durum mevcut fakat Tyler'in da dediği gibi bu kişinin daha az insana benzemesini beklerken kısalığı haricinde pek bizlerden farkı yok. Kitapta en büyük ana unsur dünyanın sonunun yaklaşmasını tek bir kelimeyle belirten "Dönü" lafzı. Kitabın yarısından sonra önce Jason daha sonrasında Diane bir hastalığa tutuluyor. Ama öyle bir şey ki bu hastalığı atlatmayı başardığınızda insanlığınız yeniliyor denebilir. Hatta Tyler bu hastalığı henüz geçirmediğinde "modifiye edilmemiş insanlığım" diye bir cümle kuruyor. Kitap zaten her şeyiyle tek kelimeyle harikaydı ama benim okuma şevkimi kırmayan taraf üç ana karakterimizin yaşamının gidişatıydı. Diane ve Tyler arasında geçenler uzun bir süre beni öfkeye boğdu. Diane'nin verdiği kararlar kitapta Tyler'i en çok etkileyen kısım denebilir. Ama üçü arasında geçenler aradan seneler geçse de durulmuyor. Tyler ve Jason'un dostluğu her daim devam etmeye ant içmiş gibi. İlk kitap o kadar dolu doluydu ki yazar serinin diğer iki kitabını bu kalınlıkla neyle dolduracak çok merak ediyordum. İkinci kitapta muhtemelen kıyametin kopması tam anlamıyla işlenecek ve yaşadıkları dünyanın sahte olduğunu kavradıklarından bu yana başka bir yaşam alanı arayan insanlığın gidişatını uzun uzun okuyacağız. Umarım ikinci kitap bir an önce çevrilir. Bilim kurgu türünden çekinenler varsa onları şöyle alalım. Kesinlikle pişman olmayacaksınız.

  • Trudi
    2019-05-15 03:11

    The best way to come at this novel would be completely blind, not knowing a thing of what it’s about. My complaint about most movies these days is that too much is revealed in the trailers, so much so that the movie in its entirety is often a disappointment. For Spin to really work its magic on you the less you know the better. If you’re not expecting it, the awesome plot and the ramifications for the characters involved will hit you like a jack-hammer to the solar plexus. The good news is, if you read up on the book and know a fair amount before you begin, the intricate story and how it unfolds will still impress you, and engage you to the last page. Don’t let the science-fiction elements scare you away if that’s not your thing, because while at its core it is a very science driven story, it is not overly burdened with scientific jargon and explanations. The scenario is easy to grasp, seemingly plausible (ergo endlessly frightening and exciting). Wilson is a talented writer and his tale is well told, and he doesn’t sacrifice his characters to plot – the way some big budget movies will sacrifice story and characters to special effects. Ty, Diane and Jase are believable, likable, flawed characters, richly drawn. You live through the Spin with them and hold your breath wondering how it’s all going to end. Theirs is a story of friendship, and the bonds that bring us together as children, and keep us together as adults, even when the world is falling apart and the miles and years pile up around you. For fans of apocalyptic / dystopian books, this is a must read. It’s not only a human survival story, but bravely, with keen insight, explores rich philosophical terrain regarding Earth’s place in a larger unknowable Universe. Are we alone? And if we are not, who is keeping us company and to what purpose? There’s not much more I can say, without giving salient plot points away, and I don’t want to get anywhere close to doing that. Remember, the less you know the better. Take a chance and pick up this book as blind as you can –- I promise you won’t regret it.

  • Lightreads
    2019-05-01 03:12

    One day in our near future, the moon and all the stars disappear from the sky. All of them at once, all over the world. Decades later and far away, Tyler remembers that night and all the years after as he grew up part of the generation that knew the world was going to end within the next fifty years. And I really cannot describe the plot with any more exactitude, because saying anything else would spoil one of the hundred complex threads woven into this story, and that would be a damn shame.I can say that this is what is known as a “hard SF” novel, and as such it is powered on ideas. Extraordinary ideas which test the boundaries of the universe as we know it, from the jaw-droppingly smart to the ones I just didn't buy. But this is also a book rich in people, from the very personal convolutions of Tyler’s existence in and out of the orbit of twins Jason and Diane, to the deft, evocative way Wilson describes how human societies themselves work.And that’s what’s so brilliant about this book – it’s got range. It plays Tyler and Diane and Jason’s lives on the same stage, with the same life and sympathy with which it plays the rise and fall of civilizations, the making of worlds, the human spirit in extremity at its best in grace and cleverness, and its worst in hopelessness and fear. There’s so much packed into this just-right 370 pages, from a slow and subtle love story to penetrating insights on just how people and governments work in long, wrenching crisis, and then the hard slam. As the why and the how of the plot are slowly revealed through Tyler’s memories and the past races to meet the present, the nature of the story lets Wilson do things with scale, with everything from the passage of time on the cosmic scale to the scope of human understanding. It’s riveting, sweet, charismatic, difficult to read in places.Which is neglecting the prose, which is lucid and adroitly theatrical and just right.“Dreams, Diane once said, are metaphors gone feral.”“What we were transplanting was not biology but human history, and human history, Jase had said, burned like a fire compared to the slow rust of evolution.”“There’s a phrase Pastor Bob Cobble liked to use back at Jordan Tabernacle. ‘His heart cried out to God.’ . . . But you have to parse the sentence. ‘His heart cried out’ – I think that’s all of us, it’s universal. You, Simon, me, Jason. Even Carol. Even E.D. When people come to understand how big the universe is and how short a human life is, their hearts cry out. Sometimes it’s a cry of joy, I think that’s what it was for Jason, I think that’s what I didn’t understand about him. He had the gift of awe. But I think for most of us it’s a cry of terror. The terror of extinction, the terror of meaninglessness. Our hearts cry out. Maybe to God, or maybe just to break the silence.”And that last quote is actually a much better portrait of the book than I’m managing.Wow. Pieces of this one will be with me for a long time.

  • Francine
    2019-04-30 09:59

    First off, my breakdown of the basics:Narrative: 5-stars. Highly intelligent, compelling, wonderful world-building. It's a novel of grand ideas yet somehow, it maintained a certain sense of intimacy. While this is, at heart, sci-fi, it deals with many things including science, religion, faith, love, loss (including loss of hope, loss of self, loss of faith), the deterioration of humanity and humanity's intrinsic need for survival, sometimes at all costs.Writing: 5 stars. Utterly beautiful prose, very intelligent, unbelievable imagery (both sensory and emotionally). Robert Charles Wilson took the time to tell his story his way, even if it meandered here and there every now and again, and most importantly, he didn't pander to the lowest common denominator.Characters: 4 stars. Wonderfully rich character development, realistic journeys and character arcs, sympathetic characters that the reader can easily relate to; very nuanced protagonists and antagonists, including antiheroes. Even the characters I didn't necessarily like were not truly unlikable - what drove them to be who they were was as much a part of them that you could understand why they were drawn that way.Science: 4 stars. The science was actually quite sound. Mind you, this is still science fiction, so there is a lot of it that is speculative in nature. Having said that, what I liked about it was that it was accessible and true enough. There are a lot of novels out there that have grand ideas but fall short on the science (e.g., The Age of Miracles, which was overall well-written and a good story, but the science wasn't rigorous enough -- there were times when I felt slightly cheated because the author either skirted around the science or posited theories that were just unbelievable to me). I'm not going to say I bought 100% of what Robert Charles Wilson wrote for his explanation of why or how the Spin Barrier was erected (and there are still some parts where I'm a bit fuzzy), but I did appreciate all the thought and research he did. The science in Spin was fairly solid, and that's really all I'm asking for in sci-fi.Overall: 4.5 stars, which, in Goodreads parlance equals 5 stars.My thoughts in general:Framework narratives can be tricky. There are some authors who frame a story and touch on the framework or secondary narrative only at the beginning and end of the story. What I liked about Spin was that the main (Tyler's story from childhood through the present) and secondary (the far future, which is 4x10^9 AD) narratives are equally important, and Wilson spends as much time exploring the past as the present/future. They're inextricably linked, and time, both from Tyler's perspective and as a result of the Spin barrier, flows very much like a mobius strip, clockwise and counterclockwise within a Euclidean space.While this is a sci-fi novel, I would hazard a guess that this is probably closer to 40% sci-fi and 60% a character study, with the focus being on the relationship and interrelations among Tyler, Jason and Diane. This isn't like most sci-fi novels where the focus is mostly on us vs. aliens, or us vs. tech-gone-bad, or us vs. us-gone-bad-due-to-technological-advancements. Spin is more like one of those sprawling literary novels with a smattering of fantastical sci-fi peppered in every so often, just so that we don't forget that it's actually sci-fi. The speculative parts definitely color the decisions and life trajectories of the various characters, and while you can't ignore it when Wilson's focusing on it, it always fades to the background the rest of the time. What's focused on is a very human drama, dealing with unrequited love, friendships, loneliness, family and everything in between.The main characters (Tyler Dupree, Jason and Diane Lawton) all stood for something: Jason was uncompromisingly a man of science: a child genius, he was created and molded by his father to be the man he eventually became. Jason knew how to play the game politically in order to fuel his single-minded obsession: funneling government and scientific resources into understanding the Spin, at any cost. Diane, Jason's twin sister, was equally as gifted and as intelligent, but unlike Jason, she was the ignored child. In a way, her parents' lack of concern for her propelled her into the tailspin she entered as a teen. Shunning science, she absorbed everything that was anathema to Jason and her father: new age beliefs, twisted fundamentalist Christianity, a new reading on biblical apocalyptic prophecies. As much as Jason loved the Spin, Diane hated it and was almost uncompromising in her beliefs to refute the meaning of the Spin. What's interesting is that while she wholeheartedly took on a cowl of religious fervor, there was always a part of her that instinctively knew religion wasn't the answer but that she was willing to hold on to it because it was the only thing that made sense to her after the Spin.And then there's Tyler. Tyler was the twins' best friend from childhood, and the one constant in both Jason's and Diane's lives. Tyler stood for everything the twins never had: love, faith, loyalty, constancy. He was the poor kid looking in on the Big House (Tyler was the son of the twins' father's partner and friend; when his dad passed away, Tyler and his mother ended up living in a little cottage on the Lawtons' property. His mom became the Lawtons' housekeeper). He was the one who fell in love with Diane at age ten and who was enamored by Jason's intelligence. Growing up, the twins included Tyler in everything and he soaked up all that they offered -- lessons, toys, endless summer days, friendship, secrets. But in the same token, Tyler was the one who wanted and needed to get away from the Lawtons and the Big House. But in leaving the Lawtons behind, he became a shell, moving through life as if something were missing. Sure, he was successful; he became a doctor, had relationships, had a life. His later lovers inevitably always pointed out that Tyler was just coasting, was largely indifferent, that everything always came back to the Lawtons and that he couldn't give them up because he didn't want to. But I think he wouldn't give them up because they were as integral to him as he was to them. Both Jason and Diane relied on Tyler for various kinds of support. Tyler was Jason's lifeline to the outside world - sure, he shared things with Tyler that would have gotten both of them thrown into prison - but more than that, Tyler was Jason's link to humanity. Jason was too logical, too scientific, out of touch with the world and with people, but with Tyler, Jason was able to go back to a simpler time and just be Jason. Diane held on to Tyler because he provided her with whatever her religion, her husband and her family couldn't give her: namely unconditional, uncompromising love. Tyler almost functioned as the twins' soul. Similarly, both Jason and Diane was Tyler's brain and heart, respectively, and he couldn't function without having them in his life either. Whenever Tyler cut himself off from them, his life was empty, as empty as the Earth seemed once the Spin barrier occluded it from the galaxy and the universe. It was a very weird -- and some would say unhealthy -- symbiotic relationship the three of them shared. And despite their imperfect and utterly trying relationship, Tyler loved both of them.One of my favorite parts of the book explains their convoluted relationship (in this excerpt, Tyler is being tended to by Ibu Ina, a Minang physician in the future): Tyler said "Not half as beautifully as Jason did. It was like he was in love with the world, or at least the patterns in it. The music in it.""And Diane was in love with Jason?""In love with being his sister. Proud of him.""And were you in love with being his friend?""I suppose I was.""And in love with Diane.""Yes.""And she with you.""Maybe. I hoped so.""Then, if I may ask, what went wrong?""What makes you think anything went wrong?""You're obviously still in love. The two of you, I mean. But not like a man and a woman who have been together for many years. Something must have kept you apart. Excuse me, this is terribly impertinent."Yes, something had kept us apart. Many things. Most obviously, I supposed, it was the Spin. She had been especially, particularly frightened by it, for reasons I had never completely understood; as if the Spin were a challenge and a rebuke to everything that made her feel safe. What made feel safe? The orderly progression of life; friends, family, work -- a kind of fundamental sensibility of things, which in E.D. and Carol Lawton's Big House must already have seemed fragile, more wished-for than real.The Big House had betrayed her, and eventually even Jason had betrayed her: the scientific ideas he presented to her like peculiar gifts, which had once seemed reassuring -- the cozy major chords of Newton and Euclid -- became stranger and more alienating...a universe not only expanding but accelerating towards its own decay....The Spin, when it came, must have seemed like a monstrous vindication of Jason's worldview--more so because of his obsession with it.... It was immensely powerful, terrifyingly patient, and blankly indifferent to the terror it had inflicted on the world. Imagining Hypotheticals, one might picture hyperintelligent robots or inscrutable energy beings; but never the touch of a hand, a kiss, a warm bed, or a consoling word.So she hated the Spin in a deeply personal way, and I think it was that hatred that ultimately led her to Simon Townsend and the NK movement. In NK theology, the Spin became a sacred event but also a subordinate one: large but not as large as the God of Abraham; shocking but less shocking than a crucified Savior, an empty tomb.I was very pleasantly surprised to find out that this is only the first book in a trilogy. I already downloaded the second and third books. While the subsequent books won't have the Lawtons and Tyler in it, I'm still looking forward to seeing where Robert Charles Wilson will take me. I definitely think he's become one of my favorite authors now.

  • Christy
    2019-04-20 05:14

    Spin won the 2006 Hugo Award for Best Novel and deservedly so. It is science fiction in all the stereotypical ways--it includes space/time travel, advanced technology, planetary exploration, even an alien--but it goes well beyond this, interweaving explanation of the technology with character development, a fully realized social reality, and explorations of what it means to be human and to face the reality of death, both of the individual and of the species. When Tyler DuPree, the novel's protagonist, is 12 years old, the stars in Earth's sky disappear. He and his friends Jason and Diane watch as they blink out. The world has been placed within a membrane that slows time for the earth while the rest of the universe ages. This phenomenon comes to be known as the Spin. For every one second that passes on earth, 3.17 years pass outside the membrane; for every year on earth, 100 million outside the Spin. The Hypotheticals (as the creators of this membrane come to be called) are mysterious, unknown. Are they benevolent or malevolent? There is no way for humanity to know. The only thing they do know is that they are fast running out of time. The sun will die eventually and then so will they. As it is, the only thing that is keeping them from dying is the membrane itself. If it disappears, all of humanity dies--pretty much immediately. If it does not disappear, all of humanity dies anyway--just a little further into the future. Tyler, Jason, & Diane belong to a generation without hope, that expects the world to end before they have a chance to grow old and die naturally. This generational and worldwide millenarianism and apocalypticism is borne of science, though, not religious fervor. And because humanity's fate is provable and real, the world is changed, and not for the better:"The global economy had begun to oscillate, consumers and nations accumulating debt loads they expected never to have to repay, while creditors hoarded funds and interest rates spiked. Extreme religiosity and brutal criminality had increased in tandem, at home and abroad. The effects were especially devastating in third world nations, where collapsing currencies and recurrent famine helped revive slumbering Marxist and militant Islamic movements. . . . The suicidally disgruntled were legion, and their enemies included any and all Americans, Brits, Canadians, Danes, et cetera; or, conversely, all Moslems, dark-skinned people, non-English-speakers, immigrants; all Catholics, fundamentalists, atheists; all liberals, all conservatives . . . For such people the consummate act of moral clarity was a lynching or a suicide bombing, a fatwa or a pogrom. And they were ascendant now, rising like dark stars over a terminal landscape." (190-1)The novel explores the reactions of people to the knowledge of their certain death for uncertain reasons. Do they turn to religion? Science? Sex? Drugs? Do they veil themselves in ignorance and pretend not to see the end coming? Do they try to change the future? Or do they try to live with the full knowledge of what is coming, no anesthetic, no avoidance, nor any savior complex or false hope? What does it mean to live in a world without a future?For most people, growing up in this world means reaching out for faith, for something to anchor them in an increasing chaotic world. Sometimes that's religion. For Diane, this is the case. Sometimes, however, that something is much smaller. For instance, when the world seems to be finally truly ending, as Tyler struggles to save Diane's life, this exchange between Tyler and Simon, Diane's husband and a religious fanatic, is revealing. Tyler says, "I refuse to let her die as long as I have a choice.""I envy you that," Simon said quietly."What? What could you possibly envy?""Your faith," he said. (386)Faith is not the sole province of the religious. Tyler has faith in something, too. He has faith that there is something to work for, that there is still hope, no matter how small it is. He is essentially agnostic and he has more faith in the end than the sincerely religious man does. What he has found to hold onto is nothing big, nothing that provides a real hope for the future. What he has found to hold onto is instead the present, the moment, his specific abilities and his determination to continue doing what he can do for as long as possible. But Tyler's faith is a small faith, not a big one. He may believe in his ability to do what he can, but he no longer believes in "Big Salvation." As the Spin lasts longer and longer, he realizes that his faith in such salvation is gone."All the brands and flavors of Big Salvation. At the last minute we would devise a technological fix and save ourselves. Or: the Hypotheticals were benevolent beings who would turn the planet into a peaceable kingdom. Or: God would rescue us all, or at least the true believers among us. Or. Or. Or. Big Salvation. It was a honeyed lie. A paper lifeboat, even if we were killing ourselves trying to cling to it. It wasn't the Spin that had mutilated my generation. It was the lure and price of Big Salvation." (340)He already intuits what Jason says to him later, that we are all as "ephemeral as raindrops." The danger, this reveals, is not a lack of faith but too much faith. Too much faith is blinding, misleading, and eventually harmful. As Martian Wun Ngo Wen says, "the question is how to look at the sun without being blinded" (323). The question here is how to have faith without ceding the ability to ask questions, how to believe in the future without ignoring the truth of our tiny place in the universe and denying the inevitability of death. Jason writes in his final letter to Tyler, "Our generation has struggled for thirty years to recover what the Spin stole from us that October night. But we can't. There's nothing in this evolving universe to hold on to, and nothing to be gained by trying. If I learned anything from my 'Fourthness,' that's it. We're as ephemeral as raindrops. We all fall, and we all land somewhere." (428)Diane provides even more illumination of this idea, though from a very different perspective. She says to Tyler:"There's a phrase Pastor Bob Kobel liked to use back at Jordan Tabernacle. 'His heart cried out to God.' If it describes anyone, it describes Simon. But you have to parse the sentence. 'His heart cried out'--I think that's all of us, it's universal. You, Simon, me, Jason. Even Carol. Even E.D. When people come to understand how big the universe is and how short a human life is, their hearts cry out. Sometimes it's a shout of joy: I think that's what it was for Jason; I think that's what I didn't understand about him. He had the gift of awe. But for most of us it's a cry of terror. The terror of extinction, the terror of meaninglessness. Our hearts cry out. Maybe to God, or maybe just to break the silence." (440)Diane and Jason both confirm the fact that we have no savior to turn to, no God, no hope to grasp a foothold in this universe. Even the Hypotheticals are not aliens with godlike powers; they are actually an evolving form of technology that is part of a larger network. They are neither benevolent nor malevolent. The Spin may be protecting humanity, but even still, Jason points out, "The Spin membrane isn't God--it can't see the sparrow fall. It can, however, prevent the sparrow from being cooked with lethal ultraviolet light" (411). The Spin membrane is a protection, but it isn't a savior. Ultimately, what happens to humanity is left in the hands of humanity. For some unknown, mysterious, and perhaps self-serving reason, humanity has been given a second chance. And a third. And perhaps even more. But the evolution of those chances is neither predetermined nor protected. As Tyler, Diane, and the other refugees cross over the Arch to the new world, Ina says, "It's as if one history has ended and another has begun," while En (a child with his whole future ahead of him) disagrees, saying, "History doesn't start until we land" (452). Neither of these statements is quite right, though. Human history has not ended. A new chapter may be opening, but these humans carry with them to these new worlds the baggage of terrestrial history. That cannot be erased. There is still a burden to carry. Can humans learn to live responsibly, ethically, sustainably with a fresh start? Or will this planet be devoured in the same way the earth was? If the same people and the same cultural values are being transported to a new planet, what will keep humanity from repeating this process?Wilson provides the reader with a vision of what might be necessary in order to avoid re-creating this history. The "Fourthness" described by Tyler and Diane is not just a physical state. It's not just that their bodies have changed, gained years of life. The Fourth age also includes a deeper sense of empathy, a sense that pain occurring to others is occurring to the observer. It is this empathy that might give a new world a chance. This extended sense of self provides possibilities for change, possibilities for living more ethically in a new world, possibilities for a more sustainable environmental policy and more peaceful political relations. The question remaining at the end of the novel is whether or not this is enough. Perhaps this is just a reprieve after all. As Tyler notes, "we had never conquered death, only engineered reprieves (the pill, the powder, the angioplasty, the Fourth Age)--enacted our conviction that more life, even a little more life, might yet yield the pleasure or wisdom we wanted or had missed in it. No one goes home from a triple bypass or a longevity treatment expecting to live forever. Even Lazarus left the grave knowing he'd die a second time. But he came forth. He came forth gratefully." (234)Spin is a novel of fear and warning, but also of very cautious hope.

  • Rose
    2019-05-02 09:49

    This is an example of exactly what I look for in a book. Take a concept, in this case that some alien race has encompassed the Earth in some type of membrane, introduce interesting characters (at least I found them interesting - some people didn't), then proceed to explore everything about this concept. And explore they did. This is one of those mind-expanding reads. The kind that make you think and dream about all the what-ifs. Funny thing - while I was reading I couldn't help but think of this as being written in the exact opposite way Arthur C Clarke would have written it. He had amazing concepts in science fiction and he wrote with the focus on them. The characters seemed only there as a means to explore the science. Now Wilson has also come up with an amazing concept but he seems to be using the science to explore the characters and how humanity will react to the science. I preferred this form of storytelling and science fiction. This is book one of a series but it is a full story and not just part of one. I can't wait to read book two to see what happens next but I feel quite fulfilled after finishing this one. It was a really good read and I would certainly recommend it to anyone who enjoys science fiction.