Some science fiction reads like thinly disguised science articles, which makes me more interested in reading the source material than the stories. Sad, I know. Spin, by Robert Charles Wilson, overcomes this by focusing on the lives of three people while using the science as a visionary backdrop. By the end of the first chapter, Earth has been trapped in a bubble of time, like a living fly in amber, while the solar system flows ahead of them in the Spin. The ideas get bigger and bigger: the Spin, terraforming Mars, the Sun becoming a red giant, the bots at the edge of the solar system, star travel, cosmic intelligence spreading through the universe. And the Spin provides a way to see it all within a lifetime. Very cool.
Of the three kids in the first chapter, Jason Lawton grows up to be the genius who figured out what the Spin is for. Most of the book focuses on his friend Tyler Dupree, who becomes a doctor, and never quite gets over his lifelong love for Jason’s sister, Diane. Several times, Jason drops in on Tyler, partly to ask him for help, but mostly to give him an excuse to tell the reader what’s going on in his study of the Spin. Like “The Last Stand of The Elephant Man,” Tyler is the ignorant character who wants to know what’s going on.
Not only is the book a great story, the author gives us some of his sources. In fact, this is the book that got me to read a whole stack of cosmology books, including the two in the acknowledgements.
You can probably tell I really like this book.
Tomorrow: Life and Death of Planet Earth
Monday: In The New Moon’s Arms