From the author of Axis and Vortex, the first Hugo Award-winning novel in the environmental apocalyptic Spin Trilogy...
One night in October when he was ten 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, 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 day on Earth. At this rate, the death throes of the sun are only about forty 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.
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One night the stars go out. From that breathtaking "what if," Wilson (Blind Lake, etc.) builds an astonishingly successful m lange of SF thriller, growing-up saga, tender love story, father-son conflict, ecological parable and apocalyptic fable in prose that sings the music of the spheres. The narrative time oscillates effortlessly between Tyler Dupree's early adolescence and his near-future young manhood haunted by the impending death of the sun and the earth. Tyler's best friends, twins Diane and Jason Lawton, take two divergent paths: Diane into a troubling religious cult of the end, Jason into impassioned scientific research to discover the nature of the galactic Hypotheticals whose "Spin" suddenly sealed Earth in a "cosmic baggie," making one of its days equal to a hundred million years in the universe beyond. As convincing as Wilson's scientific hypothesizing is biological, astrophysical, medical he excels even more dramatically with the infinitely intricate, minutely nuanced relationships among Jason, Diane and Tyler, whose older self tries to save them both with medicines from Mars, terraformed through Jason's genius into an incubator for new humanity. This brilliant excursion into the deepest inner and farthest outer spaces offers doorways into new worlds if only humankind strives and seeks and finds and will not yield compassion for our fellow beings. FYI:Wilson's novel The Chronoliths won the John W. Campbell Award; three of his novels have been Hugo finalists.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Great idea, mediocre character development.
I had a difficult time rating this, because the ideas behind the world were beautiful and brilliant, but the writing quality wasn't able to back it up.
The book describes our world as encased in a time differential, with millions of years passing outside of earth's orbit for every one year on earth. This allows experiments and explorations to be performed that were otherwise inconceivable. This part gets five stars. Character development however is atrocious. One dimensional characters with poorly defined or absent motives plow randomly through a plot line that outside of the science behind it could have been described in a paragraph. The author uses time shifting to try to hide the fact that the narrative can't stand by itself if presented in a linear fashion. Female characters have even less development, in a world where apparently they can only be nurses, failed religious zealots, or alcoholics. The men are driven logical creatures, and the women are ruled by emotion, becoming alcoholics, failing at relationships, or sleeping around for information. As poorly developed as the male characters are, the female characters might as well have been written out completely. It's a ridiculous amount of misogyny for a book written in the twenty-first century.
Overall, it's an interesting read, but the bright spots were centered on a few small descriptions of the science involved, and sadly, one might enjoy the plot summary on Wikipedia more then the book itself. With a different author, character arcs, and an actual plot, this might have been a great book. I will not be reading the sequel.
Compelling and emotional
Probably the best sci-fi novel I've read since Carl Sagan's Contact.