- File Size: 692 KB
- Print Length: 468 pages
- Publisher: Tor Books; Reissue edition (July 1, 2010)
- Publication Date: July 1, 2010
- Sold by: Macmillan
- Language: English
- ASIN: B0016IXMWI
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #82,746 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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--The New York Times
"A superior SF thriller."
--Publishers Weekly (starred review) on Blind Lake
"Fizzing with ideas...Intense, absorbing, memorable."
--Kirkus Reviews (starred review) on Blind Lake
"The steely quiet of Blind Lake draws you in like a magnet...Wilson does not ever raise his voice, which does not mean he speaks softly. How he speaks is still. In his calm, stony exile's gaze upon the prisons of the world, and in his measured adherence to storylines that say that everything may become a little better with much work, he is the most purely Canadian of all the writers brought together here, and Blind Lake is the finest Canadian novel of all these."
-John Clute, Toronto Globe and Mail
"Reads like a combination of Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen King."
--Rocky Mountain News on Blind Lake
"Wilson is a master of character development, comparable to the late Theodore Sturgeon...This superb novel, combing Wilson's trademark well-developed characters and fine prose with stunning high-tech physics, should strongly appeal to connoisseurs of quality science fiction."
--Publishers Weekly (starred review) on the Chronoliths
"If you read science fiction for its scientific extrapolations, then there's much here to satisfy. If, like me, you read the genre for its examinations of human lives in a crucible, then The Chronoliths also delivers the goods."
--Nalo Hopkinson, Quill & Quire on the Chronoliths
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
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Wilson’s characterisations are great, his premises feasible if awe-inspiringly strange (he and Charles Stross should write a book together), and the book is LONG, which always pleases me because I read distressingly fast. I look forward to more of this universe!
As a side note: This technically can be read as a stand alone novel if you're ok with some loose ends. Those loose ends don't affect the plot or resolution provided in the first book, and on its own it's definitely worth a read!
My favorite highlight from the book:
"A generation of grotesques. That’s why we’re all divorced or promiscuous or hyperreligious or depressed or manic or dispassionate."
You might have noticed that I didn't mention the characters as one of my motivators. That's because I didn't find them terribly compelling. Science fiction is well known for putting characters after the science and technology, and Spin unfortunately conforms to this stereotype. There's hardly a real human being among them, each being fairly one-dimensional and unemotional. Given the time span of the story, it's hard to believe that none of the characters ever strays from the slot they've been placed in. The celibate genius is the vessel through which we learn about the science and technology of the Spin. The emotionally lost sister embodies the everyman's fear of the Spin, seeking solace in faith. The power-broker father and alcoholic mother provide a justification for the emotionless, single-minded nature of the main characters, but make them no less unsatisfying. And the family friend provides the eyes through which we follow them all, hardly seeming to have a will or desire of his own, except for a weak romantic connection with the sister.
I had hoped that in the end, when the story-lines came together, there would be the passion of long-unrequited love, the excitement of new exploration and discovery, and some deeper sense of meaning given to all the events that had unfolded. Alas, these hopes were dashed when I got to the last page. I felt as if the book had been cut short, ending before it was meant to.
I almost rated this book 4 stars because of the way the story pulled me along. But as I write this review, I'm realizing it doesn't really deserve that. I'm knocking off a star and giving it only three, because while my scientific curiosity was satisfied, I had to invest a lot of time in characters I never really liked only to have them disappoint me in the end.
I'm debating on whether I should continue on with this series. The sequel seems to be a completely different story from the first and heads into a whole other direction. But... I did really enjoy Spin...!
Top international reviews
Told from a purely American viewpoint (a common trait in all USA culture, but truly unforgivable when dealing with a backdrop of literally cosmic proportions), you'd be hard-pressed to remember that other nations exist while the events unfold. The 'ideas' are buried beneath a human-interest story so predictable as to be laughable, and when the conclusion is reached, it turns out to be the same old 'humans are bad for the planet; here's a portal to other worlds sent by beings so advanced it'll take two more books to attempt to explain the inexplicable' that anyone with any interest or grounding in the history of SF since Arthur C. Clarke could have foreseen as soon as an 'arch' is referenced in the introduction.
A vague attempt to pit all this against christian fundamentalism comes across as a half-baked response to 'contemporary issues' although, again, serves only to remind you that only in the USA could this kind of end-of-days BS be taken seriously.
For true 'hard' Sci Fi the bar has been set way higher than this by genuine writers such as Iain M Banks, and in recent years Cixin Liu has shown us that maybe we have to stop relying on Americans to speculate about our future. Basically this has all the believability, conviction and skill of a Dan Brown novel. Terrible.
I think the book would really benefit from some proper pruning by a fearless editor. At about two thirds the length I think it could be a winner.
I feel about this similar to how I felt about 'Ender's Game' (setting aside the fact that EG was supposed to be a prequel) - it was fine on its own, but having read this book, I have no urge to immediately snap up the subsequent books in the series.
In his novel "Freedom", Jonathan Franzen gives a family saga powered by a triangle at its core. Here the three way relationship between siblings Diane and Jason Lawton, and the son of their family's housekeeper, Tyler Dupree, is a different one, but it is still at the core of this surprisingly character-driven science fiction novel.
Throw in a bit of Dallas-like family and business feuding to the near future hard-SF and coming of age (and beyond) tale, and you get something of a feel of this ambitious, large scale, original and largely successful story.
Teenage Jason, Diane and narrator Tyler are in the garden of the Lawton family home, while the adults party indoors when suddenly the stars disappear. That is the set up for the novel which spans around 30 years (from one perspective) as Jason becomes a scientist seeking to understand what has happened, Tyler qualifies as a doctor, while Diane becomes embroiled in an apocalyptic cult inspired by the Spin, as the loss of stars becomes known.
As Tyler goes from lovelorn schoolboy, to doctor, to interplanetary diplomat to fugitive, we see a world psychologically tossed around as the human race swings from hope to despair to resignation in the face of impending extinction. On the family level, we learn about the tensions and conflicts of the Lawton household, centred on overbearing father "ED". As with any good family saga, there is a buried secret which provides a plot twist. This is a twist which is telegraphed from a long way out, but then, pleasingly is very different to expectations.
So all in all, this is an excellent, and highly original book. Its weaknesses are that sometimes the dialogue is somewhat stilted a la Basil Exposition, and not every aspect of the Spin is fully thought through. As an example, one sign that the rest of the universe is out there is that the tides still work, but when the true nature of the Spin is revealed, this couldn't happen. On the plus side, Wilson delivers an intelligent, entertaining, easily readable fast paced, multi faceted story with much more 3 dimensional characters than are to be found in much speculative fiction.
One night, when they were still teenagers, they witnessed the stars disappearing. A shell had appeared around the Earth, along with a false sun that rose and set just as the old one did.
Jason's father, ED Lawton, an important businessman with US government contacts, immediately creates a plan to replace the satellites which were lost when the enclosure occurred.
It becomes clear that the sphere is neither a barrier nor an inert shell. Outside, time is running at a different rate and Jason, (who is a physics genius) calculates that within 50 years our sun will have come to the next stage of its life and expanded beyond the orbit of the Earth. In order to employ this knowledge against The Hypotheticals (as the possible aliens who may have erected the sphere have been named) a plan is hatched to fire rockets at Mars loaded with bacteria, algae and lichens that exist in extreme climates. Thus, we could create a habitable Mars within weeks as millions of years of evolution would have taken place outside the sphere.
Then we send a human colony.
The narrative is split between two timelines, one dating from the advent of The Spin, and leaping forward in years. The other is set in Tyler's future where he is suffering the effects of a drug which extends human life through nanotechnology rebuilding the cells of the body.
It's a powerful and moving novel featuring damaged characters to a greater or lesser extent. Jason and Diane's father, ED Lawson, is a control freak and openly despises those he considers below his social level. Jason is the tool he moulds to inherit his mantle, blind to the fact that Jason must at some time supplant him. Tyler, who has always been in love with Diane, stands by as she gets deeply involved with an Armageddon cult. Jason's mother is an alcoholic, perhaps driven to drink by her husband's dispassionate singlemindedness.
Along the way they have other relationships, but the three main characters remain inexorably bound by the love they have for each other.
Structurally Tyler is the middle ground between science and religion, acting as both narrator and confidante of both Jason and Diane.
As in `The Chronoliths' the issue of father and son relationships is a central theme, although here, unlike `The Chronoliths', the human drama is well-balanced against the backdrop of vast science and forces beyond anyone's control.
The review on the back of the book, which acts as a blurb, is truly awful and off-putting - but I'm glad to say I didn't judge the book by the cover and found it a good read. Bearing mind this is the first in a trilogy, something I wasn't aware of, it doesn't all wrap up by the end. Although I wasn't necessarily dying to read more, I enjoyed the ride - give it a go!
The three main characters deal with this in three very human ways. Jason tries to understand who created the Spin, and why, emersing himself in science. Jason's twin sister, Diane, follows the path of faith, spirituality and enlightenment. Tyler, childhood friend of both takes the middle road, dedicating himself to helping others, becoming a doctor and attempting to simply live life.
Wilson exposes the vulnerability we all feel when we look at the sky and wonder, "What if we're not alone?". When an event so powerfull as to dwarf every human endevour occurs, one cannot help but feel completely overwhelmed.
Spin is not hardcore SciFi, but good tale, well told. involving everything you'd expect from a good scifi book, but without the technobabble. Technical issues that do arise are well explained, as Tyler is just your everyday, cynical Joe, and requires a lot of explanation.
Spin is shortlisted for the 2006 Hugo awards, and well deserved so.
It's well written with three interesting characters at the core of the story.
It covers a period of about forty Earth years and hundreds of millions of years for the rest of the universe.
It sets up a fascinating premise which I never expected to be satisfactorily resolved. I expected the mystery at its core to be never explained and end up vaguely mystical. It doesn't do this; instead the big reveal is both logical and satisfying.
It presents fascinating ideas in an intelligent and understandable manner.
This is the first book of Mr Wilson's that I've read. It won't be the last.
Great pace throughout and excellent cutting from now to the end to keep the tension going. I was left only worrying that the technical explanation we get near the end might be disappointing or unconvincing but once again Robert Charles Wilson did not let me down.
I'm going to read the sequel, Axis, for sure.