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Spin

Written by: Robert Charles Wilson
Narrated by: Scott Brick
Series: Spin, Book 1
Length: 17 hrs and 28 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (31 ratings)

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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

What the critics say

  • 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)

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What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Single-handedly got me into speculative sci-fi

I first read this book in high school for an assignment when I picked it randomly out of the sci-fi bin. Normally I was only into action/sci-fi And that's kind of what I expected from this book going into it. Not only were my expectations subverted, but they were also greatly exceeded.

Spin played such a huge role in my developmental years as it encouraged me to think and to wonder at the beauty of our universe. All of the character's are well developed and feel/act natural and even though the main character is somewhat of a plain character he is emboldened by the characters surrounding him and the way he interacts with them and what unfolds around himself.

The story unfolds so naturally and though some later story arcs are spoiled by the narrator character in the first few chapters the agency remains as there are always new twists and mysteries in the next chapter.

I really like Scott Brick's reading as I feel he puts just enough emotion into characters and takes moments to let the impact of scenes and rhe emotions of characters or events sink in. Beautiful.

Seriously, if you like speculative sci-fi give Spin a shot. I've listened to this twice now and have read the book countless times.

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

bland and over written

Just about the worst and blandest characters I have seen in a novel. Neat ideas but very overwritten, about twice as Ong as it should have been.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Futuristic scifi novel took me back in time!

#Audible1

A truth once again revealed: childhood friendships persist, despite the changes and events life throws at us. A most fascinating story line leads us into an intriguing adventure in an alternate timeline imposed by an outside entity (enough said). One of the best books I've read in many years - have eagerly jumped into Axis, the sequel.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

great storyline & prescient societal statements

character development is phenomenal. the story has sound scientific basis and leaves you in a constant state of wondering what is really going on. the societal and political statements lead you wonder if the author had a preview of the 2018 political situation

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • ChellyBelle
  • 2008-09-18

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.

29 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Brian
  • 2008-03-28

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!

79 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Ryan
  • 2010-09-20

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.

21 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Robert
  • 2008-04-19

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.

33 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Daniel
  • 2008-03-13

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!

49 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • AMColorado
  • 2008-05-11

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 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Francis
  • 2008-05-06

Disappointing

I should have read some of the reviews before listening to this book. I found it to be very unsatisfying. It was more of a soap opera with a little scifi thrown in. Good marks for the Spin concept. That was very fascinating.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Don Swinscoe Jr.
  • 2008-04-06

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!

11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Grant Loving
  • 2008-03-16

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.

25 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Joshua
  • 2012-05-30

Interesting premise... but that's all.

I loved the initial premise of the book. Unfortunately, that's all this novel had going for it.

The story progressed in a ridiculously slow fashion, and the characters just plain annoying.

We're constantly reminded that one of the characters is a genius, despite the fact that he never does anything remotely genius-like.

The main love interest is an idiot, who gets sucked into one cult after another and has no apparent redeeming qualities.

Our main character is boring.

The author seems more concerned about exploring uninteresting side plots than focusing on the parts of the story that the audience is actually sticking around for.

The author creates an entire world of super-advanced humans on Mars. We only ever get to meet one of them, and despite the fact that he should be 100,000 years more advanced than us, his technology seems to be only 100 years ahead of us- TOPS.

The author also seems to have missed the memo about Moore's Law and computer development. There is no way that a civilization 100,000 years more advanced than us wouldn't already have sentient computers many billions of times smarter than us.

Ultimately this novel had a satisfactory ending. Unfortunately, by the time I got there, I no longer really cared.

14 people found this helpful