Sunday, January 06, 2008

Review: Spin

I ran out of reading material for the trip back, so I borrowed Spin from Hector Yee, who had finished it on the flight to the Virgin Islands.

The story is about an unknown alien civilization that wraps the Earth in a temporal veil which puts the planet onto a fast-forward mode, hurtling into the future at a high rate. The shield (called spin in this book) also keeps the planet in a comfortable temperature. This creates havoc with existing communications systems (i.e., satellites) What is the motivation for the aliens to do this? Who are the aliens? How would Earth's inhabitants react?

The story's told from the point of a doctor who grows up with a pair of fraternal twins. He falls in love with one, and greatly respects the other, who becomes a major mover and shaker in the space sciences industry due to his father's role. The book deals with his emotional connection with the siblings, society's reaction, and of course, the scientific trappings.

The story, ultimately is a disappointment for me: the premise is interesting, but the solution that Robert Wilson provides does not hold for me --- an alien civilization seeking to preserve organic civilizations from destroying themselves by slowing down time for such civilizations? Wouldn't direct intervention be more plausible? The ending implies that a network of such civilizations might become more stable, but my thought would be that a network of planets that are each on the verge of climate crash wouldn't be able to do much to help each other.

As is usual for science fiction, the romance between the characters are superficial, and everyone seems unusually competent, smart, or pretty. I'm not sure I can believe in this world. While it served fine as airplane reading, I don't consider this a great book (despite the Hugo award --- which was a big draw for me when I saw it on the cover), and will be disappointed if I can't find another more interesting novel this year to read.
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