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Recent Readings

Book review: Darwinia
Reviewed: Friday, August 11, 2006

Summer reading: Spin
Reviewed: Saturday, August 5, 2006

Reviewed: Tuesday, July 18, 2006

the Omnivoire's Delimma
Reviewed: Wednesday, July 12, 2006

the Golem's Eye
Reviewed: Wednesday, May 31, 2006


Summer reading: Spin
Saturday, August 5, 2006

I'm sure many of my readers are saying to themselves (quietly so as not to attract attention to themselves) "It's summer, why isn't Gary reading?". Well say no more, squire, say no more. I have been reading, I've just been keeping quiet about it.

Spin is a wonderful book by the novelist Robert Charles Wilson. Normally, I worry about people with multiple first names -- seems to me that it must leave them confused on some deep, deep level. Of course, I used to think that the group Tony Orlando and Dawn was composed of three people named "Tony," "Orlando," and "Dawn"... it made sense to me. Enough about my neuroses, however, let's talk about the book.

Spin is science fiction in the best sense -- interesting science (yes) and interesting fiction (of course) but the heart of the book is the characters; not the plot nor the gizmos. The "spin" is an event caused by forces unknown for reasons unknown that leaves the earth wrapped in a shell. The stars and moon are no longer visible and satellite communication is impossible. The sun, however, still appears to rise and give warmth. Life goes on. Eventually, it's discovered that time on earth is moving more slowly than that of the universe outside the shell; much more slowly. Weeks on earth correspond to millennia. This means that the sun will consume its supply of hydrogen fuel, enter senescence and grow to consume the earth in less than a century. But why wrap the earth at all? Who is doing this? Is it the end of the world? Is it the rapture?

The book tracks the responses of three friends and the rest of the world to these questions. Wilson writes elegantly and eloquently; beautiful and at times heart rending phrases enliven the interplay of plot and character. In the end, science matters less than people and the hardest gap to cross is not the one between the stars but the one between self and other and, sometimes even less permeable, that between self and self.

Highly recommended for enjoyable science, wonderful writing and beautiful story.


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Copyright -- Gary Warren King, 2004 - 2006