Book review: Spin

Robert Charles Wilson is one of my favorite SF authors. His specialty is wildly speculative science fiction (often of a religious nature) but concentrating on the human element. His latest novel, Spin is another excellent outing. One day, the stars just go out and upon investigation it's found that the Earth is surrounded by a semi-permeable barrier that's opaque to light. So far, the premise feels a lot like Greg Egan's Quarantine, but Wilson takes things in a completely differnet direction. Upon some investigation it turns out that everything inside the "Spin Membrane" is running at a radically different time scale from the rest of the universe: one year inside is 100 million years outside, so the lifetime of the Sun is about 50 years.

Wilson tells the story from the perspective of Tyler Dupree, who's sort of a bit player in the whole thing. He's the childhood friend of someone who eventually becomes extremely important in humanity's response to the Spin. Tyler's a bit important himself, but mostly we get to see how other people respond through his eyes. And unlike in many science fiction novels, the other people mostly have real, plausible personalities--at least enough that you're interested in their stories.

Most of Wilson's other stuff is good. I particularly recommend The Divide, and A Bridge of Years.