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Title: Spin
Author: Robert Charles Wilson
Published: 2005

Imagine you’re a kid looking up at the night sky and all of a sudden the stars vanish. All of them, instantly, gone in the blink of an eye. That’s the opening gambit for Spin by Robert Charles Wilson, and I was hooked. Imagine growing up in a world with no stars, no moon, and a fake sun. What the hell is going on here?

I’m not a fast reader, but I devoured this book in record time (less than a week). Something about this author’s style clicks with the way I think. But moreover, the mystery of the novel kept me turning pages. What possible explanation could the author provide?

By the time I got to page four hundred or so, I started to suspect that he couldn’t do it, that the mystery would be left unresolved.

I’m happy to say I was wrong. I won’t spoil the resolution for you. In fact, I couldn’t, because it’s so subtle you really have to read the book to understand it.

This is a hardcore science fiction novel, and one of the best I’ve read in a while. I can see why it won a Hugo award. (My friend Rebecca participated in the voting that year and actually agreed with the results for once.) It’s full of big science ideas and technology and interesting speculation. But at the same time, it’s a very human story about people living through difficult (even apocalyptic) times. Best of all, it’s a perfectly paced cosmic mystery.

Spin is the December selection of the Octavia Science Fiction Club. We’ll be discussing the book at Octavia Books, 10:30 AM, Saturday, December 8th. Please feel free to join us. Of course, you can buy the book from Octavia and help support a small independent bookseller.

Published inBooks & Reading


  1. I forgot to mention that I read The Chronoliths a few years ago, also by Wilson, also quite enjoyable, also featuring a big mysterious phenomenon… I can’t recall how it was resolved, which may indicate it was equally subtle.

  2. Scottica Scottica

    I could ask my minders for books, but the last thing I want is a work of fiction approved by committee. But an honest book is almost as good as a friend. – Wun Ngo Wen

    Editor B is a man of the people, but his pimping is evil….

  3. Thanks for the quote, Scottica. I was just reflecting on how I should have quoted some passage from the book. You certainly picked the perfect quotation! However, I must protest that my “pimping” is not by committee and therefore not evil.

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