Purveyor of Tall Tales.

Review: Spin by Robert Charles Wilson

Spin coverSpin was the second of the e-books released for free to Tor’s mailing list and I started reading it pretty much by accident having been caught short without a book on my commute home.

Spin begins from a very simple – almost silly – premise. What would happen if the earth were surrounded by a physical membrane; inside the membrane time runs slower than the surrounding solar system? Suddenly human lifetimes are put on the same scale as stars – the drastically sped up time outside of the spin means that a single generation suddenly face the prospect of seeing the Earth swallowed up by the rapidly aging sun.

How would we react? Why would it occur? What effect would it have on people’s belief systems?

All questions tackled in the book.

But it’s not all what ifs. There’s the narrator’s story. The tale is told in the first person from the perspective of Tyler Dupree a friend of the man, Jason Lawton tasked with mustering the scientific response to the spin. On the flip side of the equation is Diane Lawton, Tyler’s childhood crush and Jason’s twin sister; and whose response to Spin is drastically different to Jason’s.

Spin is breathtakingly ambitious. You’ve got complex theoretical science in the form of how the spin might work, how space exploration might work in reality, how other life might evolve, terraforming, genetic engineering for the extension of life. And running concurrently, indeed interwoven with real care, a classic human drama about relationships, faith and friendship.

It shouldn’t really work. The starting off point – at initial viewing – is more fantastical than science fiction and the amount of ground Wilson is trying to cover is huge, I mean really epic. It just shouldn’t work. But it does. All of the elements synching together like a glorious symphony.

Spin is a densely packed layer cake of story, science and relationships. Wilson’s glee in crafting this is evident and the sheer fecundity of his ideas is awesome. As you may have guessed I loved this book. I recommend it without reservation.

You need to read this.

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