What a fun read! A gripping science fiction romp that will leave you dazed, thinking about the size of the Universe, the effects of world-wide crises,...moreWhat a fun read! A gripping science fiction romp that will leave you dazed, thinking about the size of the Universe, the effects of world-wide crises, and our small place in both of these.
The difficulty is being able to tell you much about the book. Every chapter contains either a huge game-changing twist, an important turn in the characters' story, or both. The twists start happening so early on, that I can't even breathe a word of them, lest I ruin the fun of the surprise.
The best I can do is give you the setup. In a very near future, the Earth is suddenly surrounded by a temporal shield, the Spin, that blocks out light from the stars and moon, replicates the sun and tides, but otherwise leaves the Earth intact. Outside the Spin, the Universe is aging at a rate of 100,000 years to one year back on the Earth. The consequences of this disturbance are complex, both scientifically and sociologically. We follow the story of three characters as their personal stories intersect with those of the Spin and its aftermath for decades after the event.
There is so much cosmology, astronomy, exobiology, sociology, and evolution to keep you thinking and guessing at each turn.
Seriously, I haven't had this much fun being absorbed in a science fiction story since I read Darwin's Radio.
I just wanted to add that Spin is the first in a planned trilogy, the second volume, Axis is already out. The ending sets up the second book, so it might come across as unfulfilling. (less)
***STOP*** Axis is the sequel to Spin, the second book in a trilogy. If you haven't read Spin, and want to read it unspoiled in the future, don't even...more***STOP*** Axis is the sequel to Spin, the second book in a trilogy. If you haven't read Spin, and want to read it unspoiled in the future, don't even think about reading my review or any reviews about Axis. Don't ruin your experience of Spin -- it's so, so good on its own.
Otherwise, if you've already read Spin or Axis, or have no intention of reading them, feel free to continue...
The vast differences between Spin and Axis make the sequel hard to digest and hard to rate. It has a different structure, different levels of characterization, a different narrative timescale, and so on. The biggest difference is the action in Axis takes place off-world, in the New World, Equatoria, the distant planet past the Arch. Perhaps Wilson was trying to make an entirely off-Earth book feel different? If so, he succeeded, but to the story's detriment.
Like Spin, the story in Axis is propelled by a single apocalyptic event. However, the vast dust storms blanketing Equatoria just aren't as compelling as the temporal membrane blocking out the stars in Spin. It just isn't a game-changing event for all of humanity. In addition, without a main character like Jason Lawton, we have little scientific discussion or evidence through most of the story.
In effect, Axis reads like much less of a Hard SF book than Spin. Whereas Spin opens up new scientific and sociological questions for the reader, the main question in Axis is just an extension of those posed in Spin. What is the nature of the Hypotheticals, and are they sentient? To me, the answers to these aren't answered in a satisfying way. The story remains in a philosophical, almost mystical realm. Maybe Wilson will continue the discussion in Vortex (as yet unpublished), with the type of scientific and sociological commentary that was so brilliant in Spin.(less)
Part of my March 2010 Hugo Award winner bonanza. ________________
Wow that was really a fun mash-up of historical fiction, time travel and humor! All lo...morePart of my March 2010 Hugo Award winner bonanza. ________________
Wow that was really a fun mash-up of historical fiction, time travel and humor! All lovers of time travel and its implications should give this a go. Certainly if you enjoy the zany humor of Douglas Adams, you should give this a go. I might even suggest that if you're a fan of Victorian England and its foibles, you should give this a go. And most certainly, definitely if you know what a penwiper is, you have no choice but to read this book. ________________
June 26, 2010:
I saw two interesting reviews about TSNOTD.
The first is the ever insightful Jo Walton at Tor.com: http://www.tor.com/blogs/2010/06/acad... "To Say Nothing of the Dog takes place in Willis’ “Firewatch” universe, along with her earlier Doomsday Book and more recent Blackout (and much anticipated All Clear). In this universe, there’s time travel but it’s for academic research purposes only. It’s useful to historians who want to know what really happened, and experience the past, but otherwise useless because time protects itself and you can’t bring anything through the “net” that will have any effect. The thought of time tourists hasn’t occurred in this universe, or rather it has been firmly squelched—and just as well, considering the problems historians manage to create all on their own. Despite having time travel and time travel’s ability to give you more time, Willis’s historians seem to be like my family and live in a perpetual whirlwind of ongoing crisis where there’s never enough time for proper preparation."
The second is Suvudu's 25 Years of (Bantam) Spectra series, which has a short intro from Willis herself: http://www.suvudu.com/2010/06/25-year... "I’d also always wanted to write a Victorian novel. You know the sort, crammed with eccentric characters and an incredibly convoluted plot full of butlers and afternoon tea and ruffles and séances and Oxford dons and falling in the Thames. To say nothing of the dog. And time travel. " (less)
I switched the shelf on this one from "sci-fi" to "spec-fic." The time travel is ancillary to the story, but the mechanism isn't the focus. Like Time...moreI switched the shelf on this one from "sci-fi" to "spec-fic." The time travel is ancillary to the story, but the mechanism isn't the focus. Like Time Traveler's Wife.
I was completely sucked in by the characters Butler created. I found myself thinking about the characters when I wasn't reading - wondering what they were up to, what's next.
It's a quick read, and I finished it in just a few sittings.
I can't wait to read some science fiction by Butler!(less)
I'm wavering between 4 and 5 stars. I really, really enjoyed the story and the writing, and I was totally absorbed. So, even though the book has flaws...moreI'm wavering between 4 and 5 stars. I really, really enjoyed the story and the writing, and I was totally absorbed. So, even though the book has flaws, I rounded up to 5.