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Science Fiction Review – Spin

Spin by Robert Charles Wilson

Review by Cyndi J. (cyndij)

SPIN is a hard SF novel with a big idea, but ends up rather small in execution.

Tyler Dupree is a 10-year-old, playing with two older friends – twins Jason and Diane – late one night, when they see the stars go out. Something has placed a barrier around the Earth, cutting it off from the rest of the universe, but allowing artificial sunlight. Before long, it’s discovered that the barrier has effectively slowed time on Earth to an incredible degree, such that 100 million years are going by outside for every one experienced on Earth.

The story is narrowly focused on Tyler and his relationship with Jason and Diane, which continues on throughout their lives. Tyler’s mother went from an equal to being the housekeeper for the twin’s parents, overbearing father E.D. and the alcoholic mom Carole.  There is a lot of this book that refers back to that difference in status. Jason is a bona-fide genius and has been groomed to take over E.D.’s aerospace empire, now rapidly retooled to provide Earth communications and what space exploration is possible. Diane gets religion, but Tyler’s unrequited love for her continues.

Wilson came up with a very cool idea, and the ramifications of it are at once immense and also mundane. Looked at now, with the recent pandemic in mind, you can’t help but shake your head about all the things that Wilson got right regarding a world population in crisis. At the same time though, we don’t see too much of anything outside Tyler’s world.  Sorry to say but he’s pretty boring and it’s hard to know why he is so obsessed with Diane. But still, cool ideas: how to make evolution work to our advantage was excellent, and I did like the surprise visitor.

I would have really liked to have seen what was happening in other countries. On the other hand, one of Wilson’s points is that because nothing looks terribly different (so what, we lost the moon), most humans decided to ignore the whole thing.  We can certainly identify with that.

As our sun hurtles towards its eventual death, the process of finding out what happened and why is exceedingly slow. How can humans possibly survive the death of the sun?  The ending sets up for AXIS, the next book in the trilogy.






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