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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 listeners say about Spin

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    2,427
  • 4 Stars
    1,966
  • 3 Stars
    880
  • 2 Stars
    266
  • 1 Stars
    125
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    1,812
  • 4 Stars
    953
  • 3 Stars
    336
  • 2 Stars
    91
  • 1 Stars
    46
Story
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    1,567
  • 4 Stars
    1,016
  • 3 Stars
    462
  • 2 Stars
    133
  • 1 Stars
    69

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

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!

96 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

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!

53 people found this helpful

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

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.

47 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

36 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

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.

33 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

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.

26 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Interesting Science, Excruciating Fiction...

Scott Brick really stinks the place up with his overwrought narration. And it doesn't help that he's reading material that is absolute dreck.
Ten percent of this book is interesting science fiction, the other 15 hours is a tedious slog of bad dialogue, unsympathetic characters, and a plot that is excruciatingly slow. I found myself talking back in aggravation.
Did I mention the narration? Scott Brick has done good work other novels, and until this book I was a fan - but this time he's way off. Like a bad high school drama-club president who thinks he has his audience enthralled. Like a bad movie that is so bad it's entertaining to see how bad it can really get. Car accident bad. "Dream Girls" bad. "I want my money back" - bad.
All this begs questions. Why the Hugo award? Wile the science in the book is mildly interesting, is that the only criteria for a Hugo? Does quality writing matter? Apparently not. What does it say about me that I listened to the whole thing, am I now a lesser person? I think I am.
And last, who are these people giving this book 4 and 5 stars? Like other reviewers I am amazed - are these real people? Is something afoot here?
If you want an alternate novel with an apocalyptic theme, try "The Road" by Cormack McCarthy. You won't talk back to it in frustration.

22 people found this helpful

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

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.

18 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Highly Recommended

I found it completely engrossing with its character development a tightly knit narrative, and its insights into society's possible reactions to the end times.

17 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

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.

14 people found this helpful