Spin, by Robert Charles Wilson, tells the story of an Earth in peril, beginning with a night when the stars disappear.
I picked this up as part of a Humble Bundle eBook bundle. Overall, the book was entertaining, with an ending that fell just short of satisfying. I particularly liked this quote and first line from the novel:
Everybody falls, and we all land somewhere.
The narrator switches back and forth between the present time and the past, which recounts the Spin event, as it is called. A large barrier has formed around the Earth, blocking the stars and slowing time. As Earth plods along at its own pace, billions of years pass beyond the dark sphere. This is an issue, as our powerful sun is but a star and has an eventual date with death. The narrator’s generation must face the fact that they will live to see the world end.
The novel explores humanity’s reaction to knowing when the world will end. Some people cling to religion and various movements spring up around the world, from lewd sex festivals to groups trying to breed a blood red calf to usher in apocalypse. Science takes a different route, hatching a plan to colonize Mars and give humanity more time to figure out how to fix things. No one knows who has caused this Spin event, but it isn’t a naturally occurring thing. With the oncoming end, everyone is falling and everyone lands somewhere different.
This was a book I wasn’t sure how to take. It wasn’t necessarily boring, but it wasn’t quite riveting, either. I think a lot of that has to do with the main character and his sense of detachment from everything. He very much lives vicariously through his closest friends, a brother and sister pair who take on polarized roles in the end of the world. The sister clings to religion and a husband, while the brother pursues science and understanding in the shadow of his father’s monetary empire. Through the main character’s lens, we view all the doom of humanity—and it seems largely underwhelming.
I thought humanity’s initial reaction to the stars disappearing was rather odd. Everyone seemed to take it very well. I can only imagine that finding out a giant sphere of black made the stars disappear would drive most people into frenzy. As long as humans have existed, we’ve gazed up at the night sky. To have that suddenly vanish would be terrifying.
The book makes a good point, though, about the number of people who o don’t know much about science or subscribe to religions or beliefs that don’t give much credit to science (such as the Earth being 6000 years old). There isn’t an easy way for a good chunk of the population to grasp an event like a large barrier forming around the Earth and slowing down time. These same people would have a harder time grasping that the sun could die and die soon. I feel like this is a pretty accurate assumption.
I would rate this book as READ WITH CAUTION. You might like it, you might not. I honestly can’t say, at this point. The sensation of finishing this novel was similar to thinking you have a Diet Coke and tasting sweet tea instead. You’re not really upset or disgusted, but it isn’t exactly what you wanted and you’re not really sure if you’re going to be satisfied with tea.
There are two more books in the trilogy, Axis and Vortex. I don’t think I will be reading these, at least right now. If you do check any out, please let me know what you think.