Posted by: Jack | June 20, 2007

Spin

After the last post in which I complained about the downfalls of the literary and cinematic genre of fantasy, it seems appropriate to counter with a genre which I really appreciate. For a majority of people I’ve spoken with, science fiction seems to be a love-it or hate-it genre. If this is truly the case then I definitely fall into the love-it category. I think there is a bit of understandable confusion regarding which books really classify as science fiction because I believe strongly that many libraries sneak a lot of fantasies onto their sci-fi shelves. Basically anything that takes place in space or on a planet other than Earth gets grouped in regardless of the story. In my opinion, true sci-fi needs to extrapolate and maybe slightly exaggerate the possibilities of real modern science. And when I say modern I mean as of the time of the book’s writing. If Jules Verne published some of his works such as From the Earth to the Moon, Around the World in 80 Days and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea today, they certainly wouldn’t provoke much interest.

Having that classification out of the way, I have to say that the most recent book I read, Spin by Robert Charles Wilson, is a perfect example of excellent sci-fi as well as one of the best books I’ve ever read. I urge any sci-fi enthusiast to make it their next read. And for anyone who has not yet dabbled in sci-fi or has previously condemned the genre, I can say with confidence that it would be difficult to dislike this book. Wilson uses the technique of alternating between two times in one man’s life, one of which is taking place in the present while the other begins decades in the past when he is a child. By the end of the book the past story catches up with the point where the present story had started. This layout is not too uncommon but Wilson uses it exceptionally, hinting at what’s going to happen next in the past story with bits of information revealed in the present. And throughout the book Wilson intrigues the reader by playing upon the human inability to conceptualize expanses of time on a cosmic scale. People know what a billion years means but generally cannot grasp what is possible in such a length of time.

If you trust my tastes/recommendations enough to go pick up this book, I also recommend not reading the summary inside the cover. While it in no way spoils the story, it does describe the first otherwise-unexpected phenomenon. If your going to be reading the book anyway, might as well make the best of it.

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