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Rocky Mountain News
"Wilson is one of the best science-fiction writers alive… Spin is the best science-fiction novel so far this year."
—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
4 X 109 A.D.
Everybody falls, and we all land somewhere.
So we rented a room on the third floor of a colonial-style hotel in Padang where we wouldn’t be noticed for a while.
Nine hundred euros a night bought us privacy and a balcony view of the Indian Ocean. During pleasant weather, and there had been no shortage of that over the last few days, we could see the nearest part of the Archway: a cloud-colored vertical line that rose from the horizon and vanished, still rising, into blue haze. As impressive as this seemed, only a fraction of the whole structure was visible from the west coast of Sumatra. The Archway’s far leg descended to the undersea peaks of the Carpenter Ridge more than a thousand kilometers away, spanning the Mentawai Trench like a wedding band dropped edge-up into a shallow pond. On dry land, it would have reached from Bombay on the eastern coast of India to Madras on the west. Or, say, very roughly, New York to Chicago.
Diane had spent most of the afternoon on the balcony, sweating in the shade of a faded striped umbrella. The view fascinated her, and I was pleased and relieved that she was—after everything that had happened—still capable of taking such pleasure in it.
I joined her at sunset. Sunset was the best time. A freighter heading down the coast to the port of Teluk Bayur became a necklace of lights in the offshore blackness, effortlessly gliding. The near leg of the Arch gleamed like a burnished red nail pinning sky to sea. We watched the Earth’s shadow climb the pillar as the city grew dark.
It was a technology, in the famous quotation, "indistinguishable from magic." What else but magic would allow the uninterrupted flow of air and sea from the Bay of Bengal to the Indian Ocean but would transport a surface vessel to far stranger ports? What miracle of engineering permitted a structure with a radius of a thousand kilometers to support its own weight? What was it made of, and how did it do what it did?
Perhaps only Jason Lawton could have answered those questions. But Jason wasn’t with us.
Diane slouched in a deck chair, her yellow sundress and comically wide straw hat reduced by the gathering darkness to geometries of shadow. Her skin was clear, smooth, nut brown. Her eyes caught the last light very fetchingly, but her look was still wary—that hadn’t changed.
She glanced up at me. "You’ve been fidgeting all day."
"I’m thinking of writing something," I said. "Before it starts. Sort of a memoir."
"Afraid of what you might lose? But that’s unreasonable, Tyler. It’s not like your memory’s being erased."
No, not erased; but potentially blurred, softened, defocused. The other side effects of the drug were temporary and endurable, but the possibility of memory loss terrified me.
"Anyway," she said, "the odds are in your favor. You know that as well as anyone. There is a risk . . . but it’s only a risk, and a pretty minor one at that."
And if it had happened in her case maybe it had been a blessing.
"Even so," I said. "I’d feel better writing something down."
"If you don’t want to go ahead with this you don’t have to. You’ll know when you’re ready."
"No, I want to do it." Or so I told myself.
"Then it has to start tonight."
"I know. But over the next few weeks—"
"You probably won’t feel like writing."
"Unless I can’t help myself." Graphomania was one of the less alarming of the potential side effects.
"See what you think when the nausea hits." She gave me a consoling smile. "I guess we all have something we’re afraid to let go of."
It was a troubling comment, one I didn’t want to think about.
"Look," I said, "maybe we should just get started."
The air smelled tropical, tinged with chlorine from the hotel pool three stories down. Padang was a major international port these days, full of foreigners: Indians, Filipinos, Koreans, even stray Americans like Diane and me, folks who couldn’t afford luxury transit and weren’t qualified for U.N.-approved resettlement programs. It was a lively but often lawless city, especially since the New Reformasi had come to power in Jakarta.
But the hotel was secure and the stars were out in all their scattered glory. The peak of the Archway was the brightest thing in the sky now, a delicate silver letter U (Unknown, Unknowable) written upside down by a dyslexic God. I held Diane’s hand while we watched it fade.
"What are you thinking about?" she asked.
"The last time I saw the old constellations." Virgo, Leo, Sagittarius: the astrologer’s lexicon, reduced to footnotes in a history book.
"They would have been different from here, though, wouldn’t they? The southern hemisphere?"
I supposed they would.
Then, in the full darkness of the night, we went back into the room. I switched on the room lights while Diane pulled the blinds and unpacked the syringe and ampoule kit I had taught her to use. She filled the sterile syringe, frowned and tapped out a bubble. She looked professional, but her hand was trembling.
I took off my shirt and stretched out on the bed.
Suddenly she was the reluctant one. "No second thoughts," I said. "I know what I’m getting into. And we’ve talked this through a dozen times."
She nodded and swabbed the inside of my elbow with alcohol. She held the syringe in her right hand, point up. The small quantity of fluid in it looked as innocent as water.
"That was a long time ago," she said.
"When we looked at the stars that time."
"I’m glad you haven’t forgotten."
"Of course I haven’t forgotten. Now make a fist."
The pain was trivial. At least at first.
Excerpted from Spin by Robert Charles Wilson.
Copyright 2005 by Robert Charles Wilson.
Published in April 2005 by Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.
Posted October 3, 2006
Twelve year old Tyler Dupree is enjoying a crisp autumn night stargazing with his close friends Jason and Diane Lawton when without warning, all the stars and the moon vanish from the sky. Someone out there, for reasons unknown, has placed the Earth and all of humanity inside a big, black, general relativistic bag. How the people of the world and especially the Duprees and Lawtons deal with this state of affairs as their lives go on inside the SPIN is the subject of the book. Some see it as the end of the world, some as a new beginning and some take the easy way out. R.C. Wilson presents a good understanding of relativity and sets forth some fascinating illustrations of the vast time spans of the universe contrasted against the tiny blip of human lives. It is also great to see someone writing about the implications of variable time, which, in my opinion, have been neglected far too long. He also does a good job laying out space program politics. On the other hand, the author reveals a jaundiced and outsider view of the aerospace industry, both public and private sector, and displays an ignorance of the true trappings of power and wealth. (The children of billionaire business founders and government program heads in their own right, who might also be targeted by foreign agents, simply do no jump in their friends Honda for an unscheduled cross country drive.) There is some great science fiction technology and philosophy toward the end of the book but it ultimately crosses the line into science fantasy. I wasn¿t really drawn into this novel and one of the reasons was the hero, Tyler Dupree. He comes off as a passionless slug of below average intelligence who remains in the center of attention for no apparent reason. He rarely takes any action that directs the course of the story. Also the premise that human civilization is so special that some great universal entity will descend and prevent us from destroying ourselves is a bit hard to swallow. We are only self important. If we become extinct, like it or not, the universe at large will take little notice of the event. It was made that way. With the title SPIN, (and a Hugo award) I expected a high paced plot line but this novel is more literary than commercial fiction and the plot is flat frankly, parts of it are tedious. At first it seems that there are two converging storylines but in reality, sections of the ending have been pulled forward to keep the readers interest a dodgy proposition at best and a cheap trick in the least. There is a good science fiction novel in there but nearly half of the book could be (and should have been) pared away without any loss to the reader. As I read this Hugo winner for best novel, I wondered at times if winners are chosen the same way we choose presidential candidates. I hope not, but if this is the best the industry has to offer, it bodes well for some fresh faces to rise up in the Sci Fi market. I was not drawn back to this novel when I had to put it down as I am with a true five star book. If you want to be able to talk intelligently about the recent Hugo best novel, I recommend reading this book, it is passing. If you¿re looking for great science fiction entertainment and a fun read, pick up an old Asimov or Lois Bujold novel instead. Reviewed by Hugh Mannfield at stormbold.com
4 out of 7 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 2, 2005
There aren't that many new topics for science fiction writers anymore. Events have overtaken them. But Wilson has come up with something which I believe is totally new in an old genre. One night a protective shell or barrier forms around the Earth., blotting out the stars. A hologrpahic image subsitutes for the sun. It distorts time so that eons pass outside the shell, while time on Earth slows, and the charcters try to figure out who or what is behind this strange shielding. The book offers lively sci-fi in a story powered by the lives of three main characters, Jason and Diane Lawton and their friend Tyler Dupree. While Jason struggles against his domineering father to find out who made this planetary barricade, Tyler pursues an almost hopeless love affair with Diane--who has gone off and married a cultist.The author digs into what would happen to humanity socially as well as scientifically if such a thing came to pass. He even throws in some old ideas--nanotechnology, greater longevity and human 'Martians' to spice it up. Meanwhile, outside the barier, the sun has begun to age, and it grows wider and redder and reaches out across space to swallow the Earth...
4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 24, 2012
This is the best of science fiction because the world-building is amazing, but the character-building is even better. I love how the author really takes the time to explore reactions to such an event (learning we are not alone)...I personally enjoyed the spirtual aspects of the book....it asks the big questions...this is the whole package!
3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 10, 2009
Better than average sci-fi that deals with a mysterious cocoon that envelopes the earth and affects time inside of the earth vs outside(space). I believe the strength of this book is two fold, a strong story that connects the characters and a mystery of who and why an entity would have an interest in doing something to the earth. Raises questions on the enviroment,society, religion, politics,and science. Felt the ending was a little weak but a real page turner that does not get too heavy handed.
2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 7, 2014
I am very happy that I decided to read this book. Robert Wilson is able to craft a very well written, very creative science fiction story in Spin. The moderate pace of the book is refreshing and I find that is helps me learn and absorb more of the characters meaning to the story as a whole. I found myself hoping for an end that I knew may be coming but was unsure, in short, I was very much drawn into the lives of the characters.
1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 5, 2014
One of the best stories I've ever read, period. It really makes you think about just how different alien life can be from our own. Incredible storyWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
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*a shadowy sillhouette speaks from the shadows in a strained, somewhat high-pitched voice, one that you would assume belonged to an insane person.* I heard a rumor a sorcerer on Mount Neverus could summon banshees. Could you imagine the implications if that art has survived? *the sillhouette cackles.*
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