SciFi book review: Spin by Robert Charles Wilson

The novel Spin won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 2006.

It is what I would call a “temporal disparity” novel. Earth becomes suddenly surrounded in a temporal shield that slows time down for human beings. Alas, the Sun is aging very fast for the poor human beings. Are we going to die? Who is creating this field?

This is almost exactly the reverse story from Georges-Jean Arnaud‘s La grande séparation (1971-1973). In Arnaud’s story, a planet has a similar temporal field, but it accelerates time on the planet. Even though the planet has primitive technology, it is constantly surveyed for any sign of technological development. Spin offers the counterpart story.

A temporal disparity leads to a technological disparity: a small band of savages can evolve into a technologically superior race while you are having coffee.


The novel is very good. The author writes with good scientific rigour. The writing is supported by repeatedly introducing new mysteries in every chapter… to keep you coming for more. The characters are believable and well drawn.


The author tried to limit the scope of the story to few characters, but not all of them are good characters. The writing style reminds me a bit of Card’s Ender’s game series. There is the extra smart kid who grows up to be the is the only one able to see through what is happening. I found this particular element of the novel irritating. A major catastrophe hits the Earth and only one man seems to be able to put it all together? I am a bit disappointed by how the author dealt with anything outside the Earth, including the Martians. He could have done so much more!

Sequels are upcoming.

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Daniel Lemire

A computer science professor at the University of Quebec (TELUQ).

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