Caught up

Jul. 8th, 2006 04:28 pm
threemonkeys: (Waxlion)
I like to sample all across the broad spec fic genre. I take enjoyment from wherever I may find it throughout and beyond the bounds of the area. But if I was to be really pushed to choose a very specific region that most appeals to me, it would be an area of hard science fiction where the science is pushed to the bounds of what is known and extrapolated but not broken (and thus heading into space opera). All other things being equal (quality of characterisation, plot etc), this is where I am most at home. There are a good number of authors who occupy this niche and I am coming to the opinion that Robert Charles Wilson is amongst the very best of them. I make this judgment after having just finished his latest novel Spin. I read this book in one enthralled session last night and have only the highest praise for it.

Wilson writes novels of dislocation. The characters in his settings are displaced physically or temporally in such a way as to create a closed community. The stresses and strains on the dislocated community are the fuel for the character elements of the stories while the plots and the science revolve around dealing with the physical problems. It may sound like a formula but every one of Wilson's books is quite distinctive apart from this underlying theme. Wilson is also a writer who obviously works at his craft. This is something like his tenth published novel (if not more) and you can see a steady improvement in both the way he writes characters and in the way he weaves the science into the plot. The "bright new thing" syndrome would not have worked here.

Spin is about an Earth cut off by a barrier from the rest of the universe. Not just cut physically but in time as well. How do the people react? How do they fight back? By following the track of three people across their lives, we see the impact on the planet mirrored on their lives as is their search for meaning a way of mirroring the scientific puzzle. It is an excellent way of combining the personal, sociological, technical and cosmological into a coherent whole. Go read it.

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