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Publisher's Summary

One night when he was 10, Tyler stood in his backyard and watched the stars go out. They flared into brilliance, then disappeared, replaced by an empty black barrier. He and his best friends, Jason and Diane Lawton, had seen what became known as the Big Blackout. It would shape their lives.

The "sun" is now a featureless disk - a heat source, rather than an astronomical object. The moon is gone, but tides remain. The world's artificial satellites have fallen out of orbit. Eventually, space probes reveal that the barrier is artificial, generated by huge alien artifacts. Time passes faster outside the barrier - more than a hundred million years per day on Earth. At this rate, the death of the sun is only about forty years away.

Jason, now a promising young scientist, devotes his life to working against this slow-moving apocalypse. Diane throws herself into hedonism, marrying a sinister cult leader who's forged a religion out of the fears of the masses.

Earth sends terraforming machines, then humans, to Mars...and immediately an emissary returns with thousands of stories about the settling of Mars. Then an identical barrier appears around Mars.

Life on Earth is about to get much, much stranger.

©2005 Robert Charles Wilson; (P)2008 Macmillan Audio

Critic Reviews

  • Hugo Award, Best Novel, 2006

"Wilson continues to surprise and delight. I can't think of another science fiction writer who understands the strengths of the genre so well and who works with such confidence within its elastic boundaries." (The New York Times)
"The best science fiction novel so far this year." (Rocky Mountain News)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.1 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    1,758
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    1,611
  • 3 Stars
    750
  • 2 Stars
    225
  • 1 Stars
    102

Performance

  • 4.3 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    1,096
  • 4 Stars
    699
  • 3 Stars
    253
  • 2 Stars
    67
  • 1 Stars
    37

Story

  • 4.1 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    961
  • 4 Stars
    716
  • 3 Stars
    345
  • 2 Stars
    90
  • 1 Stars
    44
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  • Overall

Great Listen!

Having read some of Robert Charles Wilson in the past, I wasn't exactly sure what to expect with Spin. I had certainly heard good things, but Wilson has the tendency to start with a great idea and not do much else with it (see Darwinia).

I am happy to report that Spin delivers on all fronts. Not only is the spin a fantastic sci-fi concept, the subsequent focus on how humanity deals with it engrossing. Wilson drifts between scientific and social ideas with such grace, that the world he creates in Spin seems completely plausible.

Another beef I have with Wilson is that he doesn't always end his stories with a lot of closure (or even elementary explanation sometimes). I was working through Spin with a dreadful feeling that all of this tremendous tension and buildup was going to be a letdown. Again, I had nothing to worry about. The ending is left open for the sequel (Axis, coming out this year or next), but the Spin itself is fully explained.

All of the pieces of this book fit very nicely together and I can't recommend it highly enough. This was well deserving of the Hugo, and I look forward to more Robert Charles Wilson in the future!

61 of 65 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

A good listen

A lot of other reviewers seem to have complained about not finding out what's going on until the end.

This confuses me - why would you bother reading the book if the ending was laid out for you neatly in the first two chapters?

The book is part SF, part mystery. It's written from the perspective of a character who isn't a scientist, but a doctor, so the SF stuff is dumbed down a bit, but not offensively so.

I enjoyed this audiobook very much, and I would have enjoyed seeing a direct sequel, rather than a spin-off novel with the same premise and a different lead character.

16 of 17 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

thoughtful, Bradbury-esque SF

The premise of this book is straight out of the Twilight Zone: someone or something has encased the Earth in a mysterious, black field that causes time on the planet to slow down. For every day of Earth time, centuries pass in the rest of the universe. Stars and the moon disappear, and the sun is replaced by an artificial simulation. No one on Earth knows how or why, though many religious groups believe it to be the beginning of the end times.

Some writers would have launched a conventional whiz-bang action story from here, but Wilson takes a more contemplative, Bradbury-like approach, imagining the changes both large and small that "the Spin" brings to the lives of his main characters and to society at large over twenty years or so. Of course, one of the characters happens to be a brilliant scientist working to solve the mystery before the ever-expanding sun engulfs the solar system, which leads to some interesting plot choices involving the use of evolution as a tool within a sped-up universe.

However, the story is more focused on its characters as they come of age in this strange new reality, with much of the science fiction-y stuff happening offstage, and being recounted by the narrator. Wilson's in no hurry to show us who's ultimately behind the curtain (in fact, if you hadn't noticed, there's a sequel), but the speculation and human drama offer plenty to keep the reader absorbed (even if it does get more than a tad soap opera-ish here and there). I think that anyone who appreciates reflective science fiction in the tradition of Bradbury or Clarke will enjoy this book.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

First Rate! A must read!

This was a great book! I finished it in a weekend, I couldn't stop listening. Solid story with complex relationships between characters.It will keep you listening, and don't read the summary if you really want to take the ride!

44 of 49 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

A Classic

Those of us who mourn the loss of Arthur C. Clarke and fondly remember the style and substance of his stories will enjoy Spin. It has great characters and an interesting story that evolves in stages. The many questions are all answered, but only in good time so the reader can enjoy the process as much as the revelations. This book is both fun and thought-provoking, and has enough realistic hard science to keep a scientist or engineer entertained. If you enjoy science fiction, this book is a must read. If you like an interesting mystery, this book is also an excellent choice. I was very sorry when it was over.

28 of 31 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Great Listen

I really enjoyed listening to this book. It had really good character development, and a really good storyline. It was more focused on the characters then the sci-fi part, but the sci-fi part was awesome. The sci-fi part seemed almost plausible, which in turn brought up some interesting questions about the future of human beings, and our place in world/universe.

24 of 27 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Scott Brick almost succeeds in ruining "Spin"

Spin is not only a great S-F novel, it's a rarity in that field, with vivid characters who are interesting in their own right, aside from the startling originality of the plot and events they are caught up in.
However, I find Scott Brick's narcissistic ham-act so insufferable that I almost didn't finish the audiobook, and (since there were no other narrators available) thought I'd trash it and buy the print version instead. But Wilson's book was so good that I somehow gritted my teeth and weathered Brick's narration, like getting used to a disagreeable odor. A narrator (or an actor) should always put their talent to the service of the text. Brick does the opposite: the text is a mere tool, serving his desire to display his talent. Another reviewer (Mary) finds him too sarcastic. It's true that he often sounds sarcastic, but the problem is much deeper than that: no matter what he's emoting, he's always in-your-face, a relentless, repeated injection of puerile, inappropriate melodrama into the text every chance he gets. He seems incapable of simply letting the text guide the feeling of his voice --- to the point that it's sometimes hard to even understand what the author is saying, because Brick is in the throes of his need to display some strong emotion or other. There's nothing wrong with a talented multi-dimensional narrative, and I'm not advocating dull neutrality, nor am I failing to see that Scott Brick does have considerable potential. But compare him with Simon Vance: a superb narrator who has an even greater range of voices and moods than Brick, yet NEVER allows it to get in the way of the text. Brick would do well to study this difference. His performance on Spin reminds me of nothing so much as the rantings of a Southern preacher, voice dripping with exaggerated softness at one moment, and searing with melodramatic ham-rage at another. Until I have evidence that he has fundamentally changed his approach to narration, I'll avoid his books.

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

very hard listen

the idea of the book is actually very good(nanotecs, Martians, cosmos) but I had a really hard time finishing it. extremely confusing at the beginning, the back and forth felt like a a badly edited movie (eg 21 grams). and the narrator didnt help matters, I couldn't distinguish when the main character was thinking or speaking out loud.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Underwhelmed

I was underwhelmed by this story. I felt that the premise was excellent, but the story failed to deliver on the promise of a great end-of-the-world adventure. Rather, I was basically bored for the first 2/3 of the story, when the pace finally began to pick up a bit. But even then, the pace barely picked up and the story plodded along to an anti-climactic conclusion.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Original, timely and compelling Sci-Fi drama

From the rich details of the main characters' lives together as children in the first few minutes of the book, to their awe inspiring transition in the final hour, I was fascinated from beginning to end with not only the depth of Wilson's characters, but his masterful ability to interweave entirely plausible science with an highly original and compelling plot. Brought to life with the familiar narrative genius of Scott Brick, the story quickly develops, capturing the listener's imagination with a vibrant, multi-perspective, panoramic view of an epic human adventure, set in a familiar, yet wonderfully original not-to-distant future. Listeners looking for pure Sci-Fi might be disappointed though, as Spin delivers much more, providing ample philosophical food for thought about the 'human condition', while giving relevant insights into today's ultra-conservative, socio-political environment in the US. I highly recommend Spin!

10 of 11 people found this review helpful