Robert Charles Wilson, one of a contingent of excellent Canadian science fiction authors, hits the mark again with Spin.
Spin‘s scale is huge. Basically, one night the stars and moon disappear because someone or something has placed a barrier around the Earth that has slowed the passage of time dramatically compared to the rest of the solar system. So dramatically has time slowed that about 100 million years elapse outside the barrier for each year on Earth. At that rate, within roughly 40 years, the Sun will basically consume the Earth, putting human extinction on the horizon. Yet once humans realize the barrier can be penetrated and the significant time difference inside and outside the barrier, they embark on a program to utilize the differential to try to terraform Mars. The project ultimately produces results far beyond anyone’s imagination.
Wilson uses this grand premise to explore a wide range of topics and ideas, not the least of which are religion, millenialism and the future of mankind. If there is a problem, it is that Wilson tries to cover a few too many topics and ideas. Still, the book is extremely readable and focuses more on life than the “gee whiz” aspects of the story.
Wilson has been nominated three times for the Hugo Award for best novel (Darwinia in 1999, The Chronoliths in 2002, and Blind Lake in 2004). Darwinia and Blind Lake won the Prix Aurora award, Canada’s top SF award, for best long form work in English. I was not overly impressed with Darwinia but truly enjoyed both The Chronoliths and Blind Lake. Spin maintains the standards Wilson set with those two works and I would not be surprised to see it shortlisted next year.
The easiest kind of prophecy is the kind that predicts things that have already happened.
Robert Charles Wilson, Spin