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Wool Paperback – March 12, 2013
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"Howey's WOOL is an epic feat of imagination. You will live in this world." (Justin Cronin, bestselling author of THE PASSAGE)
“Secrets unfold with just the right pacing… If you're looking for a good post-apocalyptic read, you can't do much better than WOOL." (Rick Riordan, bestselling author of the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series)
"With WOOL Hugh Howey has created a new science fiction classic." (Ernest Cline, bestselling author of READY PLAYER ONE)
"Exilharating, intense, addictive." (S.J. Watson, bestselling author of BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP)
"In WOOL, Hugh Howey delivers the key elements of great science fiction: an authentic and detailed future-world; realistic, relatable characters to live in it; and a taut, thoughtful story. Howey’s supple, muscular writing is the icing on the cake." (Jonathan Hayes, author of A HARD DEATH)
“Sci-fi’s Underground Hit… appeal[s] to both men and women, and has attracted hard-core science fiction fans as well as general readers, much like ‘The Hunger Games.’” (The Wall Street Journal)
About the Author
Hugh Howey is the author of Wool, a book he wrote while working as a bookseller, writing each morning and during every lunch break for nearly three years. Originally self-published in 2011, Wool has grown into a New York Times bestseller. He now lives in Jupiter, Florida, with his wife Amber and their dog Bella. For more information visit HughHowey.com/wool/.
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Wool: Omnibus Edition is a collection of his first five novellas in the Wool series. The stories are set in a post-apocalyptic future in which the earth’s air has become toxic and the last survivors are forced to live underground in an immense silo with over 130 levels. How the world came to ruin is lost to history. But people know that talking about going outside is punished by being forced to go outside: troublemakers are sentenced to use wool pads to clean the lenses of the silo’s exterior cameras before succumbing to the noxious atmosphere.
There’s as much mystery as science fiction in the first few novellas. Aside from the big question—what caused the apocalypse?—Howey builds his world piece by piece in an investigative format that takes the reader along on a hunt for the truth. Why do people condemned to die still fulfill the ritual of cleaning the cameras? What caused the dimly remembered uprisings in the silo? Who’s keeping all these secrets? Are they right to do so? And why isn’t there a freaking elevator? There are murders to solve too, and while the action is slow-paced at first, Howey turns out to be as ruthless with his characters as George R. R. Martin.
All this—plus heaps of strong writing—would be enough to make me like Wool on its own. But the Omnibus Edition also features beautiful illustrations, many of which are animated. (Even the cover on Amazon has motion to it.) At first, I found the kinetic bits distracting, but I came to enjoy them as the stories developed.
None of this is to say Wool is perfect. I thought the third novella spent too much time rehashing a mystery that had already been solved in the first. And now and then Howey’s descriptions get a touch granular for my tastes. But I’ve never read a flawless “traditionally” published book either, and Wool is better than most.
Because good writing is good writing, no matter who puts it out.
Great Science Fiction takes such a world and fills it with characters who have depth, feeling, and a connection to the reader so that the reader truly cares what happens to them. Villains must be plausible and their evil must be drawn not from just their actions but from their motivations. A Villain who internally believes that he is doing good is the most compelling. The story must be internally consistent and must make sense in the context of the characters, and the story must ultimately have a point to make about the nature of the reader's own life/existence. That's when you have great fiction -- Sci-Fi or not. Robert Heinlein achieved that in Stranger in a Strange Land. Hugh Howey achieves that in the Wool saga.
From the first chapters when we see the deaths of the characters who are first introduced (that's not a spoiler), we care about what's happening, and we're trying to figure out what this world is, how it came to be, what makes it tick, and whether the later-introduced protagonists can make a difference. The texture of the writing draws us into the Silo and the details are spot on, giving us the feel of the place and ultimately that leads to a better understanding. The larger plot arc emerges slowly, integrated carefully into the day-to-day story that the characters are experiencing, and the peripheral characters are each important in their own wan and also drawn with a broad pen with depth and emotion and back-stories that make them as real as the Silo is ultimately terrifying.
It's a story you can't put down and yet you dread to reach the end. I give out five stars seldom and only to works that are great literature and not just great stories. This is a great story and a great work of science fiction. Heinlein would love this.