Sunday, June 7, 2009

Book review: Spin, by Robert Charles Wilson

Spin is the first book I've read by Robert Charles Wilson. It came highly recommended to me by Roger Dutcher, editor of The Magazine of Speculative Poetry. I was a little apprehensive when I began reading it -- I hadn't read a good science fiction book since I was a kid reading Asimov's Foundation series (unless you count Stephen King's The Tommyknockers) -- but Spin quickly dispelled my fears.

The book is big, at over 450 pages, and it tells an even bigger story. The premise is unique (at least to me) and Wilson handles it expertly, weaving it into an exceptional story.

Tyler Dupree is the narrator, telling the story from his perspective. He grew up in the shadow of two twins, Jason and Diane, whose powerful father became an influential force in all three of their lives.

One night when the three children are outside star-gazing, the stars (and moon) suddenly vanish. No one knows what happened for quite a while, until the government discovers that the Earth has been enclosed in a semi-solid membrane that can defy space and time.

The book chronicles the next 30 or 40 years in the three protagonists' lives, written as half-flashback (first as children, then growing up and getting older) and half-present tense, and Wilson keeps the story flowing along rapidly on both levels at the same time, working both narratives toward the same climax seamlessly. The book is ambitious in the material it covers, and it delivers on all fronts.

This is a science fiction tale on a grand scale, and even as someone who much prefers zombies to spaceships, I loved Spin. The book includes a preview of the sequel, Axis, and I'll definitely be reading that one too.

Spin is available as a trade paperback from Barnes & Noble and Amazon. (Right now there are also several copies available on eBay.) It won the Hugo Award for Best Novel, and once you've read it, it's easy to see why.

2 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

I have not read this, although I've read other stuff by Wilson. The idea certainly sounds intriguing.

Greg Schwartz said...

yeah, the idea's pretty cool, and the way he explores it is intense.

i've never read anything by him before, but i certainly will read more now.

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