I’ve always loved star gazing. Perhaps it was Greek mythology that hooked me; I could look up and find the Big Dipper, the Little Dipper, and later transform them into Ursa Major and Minor. Cassiopeia would appear late in the summer, arms outstretched on her throne. Orion was easy to pick out, and once I found him, I could find the Pleiades–the seven sisters–grouped together running away. Orion held a special spot in my heart, being one of the few strong enough to brave the Los Angeles skies where I was away at school. When I took astrophysics and learned about spiral galaxies, white dwarfs and black holes, my imagination was captured in a different way.
It’s clear why Spin won a Hugo. Stars. Inventive science. Family expectations. Coming of age. Engineering evolution. Human-descended Martians. Mysterious aliens.
For me, Spin was a slow-moving, thoughtful book, the kind that doesn’t quite keep you reading from excitement, but from simple human curiousity and interest. Told from the viewpoint of Tyler Dupree, a well developed, high-achiever Everyman, the kind of character most people reading would likely identify with; shades of inadequacy and affection are mixed up in his friendship with Diane and Jason, the twins of the Big House. One night, when they are teens, the stars go out. Blink–no more stars. Thankfully, the sun still rises. From there, their lives change forever; in subtle fashion for Diane and Tyler, and more directly with Jason, who wholeheartedly pursues the mystery. We learn about the mystery as Tyler does, and I appreciate the deliberate way it is explored. The science was explained enough to catch interest, and even more fascinating questions are raised when the temporal ramifications of the shield become clear.
Eventually, Spin perhaps attempts to achieve too much; as the trio grows older, the looming effects of the phenomenon become more clear, and they grapple with larger political and social issues that aren’t always well explained. I found myself most interested when Tyler and Jason’s professional lives intersected, and more of the Spin was explored. The story is narrated from Tyler’s viewpoint, and is broken into two timelines, sometimes well, sometimes more awkwardly. At times when it becomes a little like a story based on a thought experiment, it’s saved by the thoughtful and well-rounded development of the characters. I have a feeling it’s the sort of story that I would appreciate even more after another read or two, so I’m glad it’s joined my shelves.