Spin (Robert Charles Wilson) 5*

Time out of joint.  Without so much as a UFO sighting, the moon and stars disappear one October night.  Satellites fall silent, and each of NASA’s frantic probes comes crashing back immediately.  In each black box, however, is an entire mission’s worth of data.  Soon the conclusion is inescapable: billions of years are flowing outside while humanity blinks in disbelief.

The Spin melds geological and human time into a single grand sweep.  Suddenly we are not blips in geological time; the sun will burn out in a human lifespan.  As the sun and planets pull closer, society hangs in a fragile, bewildered balance.  Some turn to end-of-days religion, some turn to crime, but most people just carry on living.  “We all had to grab something or be lost,” Tyler explains.  “Diane had grabbed faith, Jason had grabbed science.  And I had grabbed Jason and Diane.”

Spin is a glorious alloy of unboxed imagination and human-scale storytelling.  The detail is as fine as a Rembrandt woodcut I once saw.  There is an adulthood-beyond-adulthood called the Fourth State (as in childhood/adolescence/adulthood/Fourth State), which only some people choose.  The story moves gracefully from state to state, but it is the Fourth State awareness that permeates the book: patient, perceptive, complex, and compassionate.  If this book were a movie, I’d award Oscars for Best Supporting Actor to all of the minor characters.

And no, humanity does not just sit back and accept its fate.  The Spin opens possibilities as well as catastrophes.

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5 responses to “Spin (Robert Charles Wilson) 5*

  1. Yes, I loved this, too. I’ve had the sequel sitting here for over a year, waiting for just the right moment.

  2. This sounds totally enticing. I haven’t read any good sci-fi in ages, unless you count really appallingly bad publications on measurement of glomerular filtration rates.

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