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Spin

Science-fiction author Robert Charles Wilson explores what it would mean to think we're alone, in Spin.

Robert Charles Wilson

One night in October when he was 10 years old, Tyler Dupree stood in his back yard and watched the stars go out. They all flared into brilliance at once, then disappeared, replaced by a flat, 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 effect is worldwide. The sun is now a featureless disk ― a heat source, rather than an astronomical object. The moon is gone, but tides remain. Not only have the world's artificial satellites fallen out of orbit, their recovered remains are pitted and aged, as though they'd been in space far longer than their known lifespans. As Tyler, Jason and Diane grow up, a space probe reveals a bizarre truth: The barrier is artificial, generated by huge alien artifacts. Time is passing faster outside the barrier than inside ― more than a hundred million years per year on Earth. At this rate, the death throes of the Sun are only about 40 years in our future.

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 new religion out of the fears of the masses.

Earth sends terraforming machines to Mars to let the onrush of time do its work, turning the planet green. Next they send humans… and immediately get back an emissary with thousands of years of stories to tell about the settling of Mars. Then Earth's probes reveal that an identical barrier has appeared around Mars. Jason, desperate, seeds near space with self-replicating machines that will scatter copies of themselves outward from the Sun ― and report back on what they find.

Life on Earth is about to get much, much stranger. (From Tor)

Spin won the 2006 Hugo Award for best novel, and was nominated for the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best science fiction novel the same year.

From the book

There are so many kinds of time. The time by which we measure our lives. Months and years. Or the big time, the time that raises mountains and makes stars. Or all the things that happen between one heartbeat and the next. Its hard to live in all those kinds of times. Easy to forget that you live in all of them.


From Spin by Robert Charles Wilson ©2006. Published by Tor.

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