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Book Report: Spin

Dang. It looks like not only did I never write about Spin, which I knew I hadn’t done, but I never even put it on the list of Books I Am Behind. Which list is currently fourteen books long. And if I forget to put books on it, well, then I’m even further behind. Although it’s not a kind of further behind that makes it harder to catch up, since in most circumstances I won’t remember that I’ve forgotten a book.

When a book wins the Hugo, though, it tends to bring it back to my attention, particularly if I’ve read it. Now, I know y’all are sick of me whinging about the failure of fandom to nominate Never Let Me Go for the Hugo. So I won’t bring it up, other than to mention that if it were up to me to give an award to a book of specfic for 2005, there wouldn’t be any question whatsoever. Spin, however, might just possibly come in second. There were problems. I thought that it was a problem that the main characters were so disaffected and distant to be non-characters. Yes, it was plausible, but it did mean that I didn’t really care whether they wound up together or separate, dead or alive or that third thing. And the end wasn’t really satisfactory. It wasn’t a total let-down, although of course the deus had been hiding in the machina (or at least the machine) the whole book, and its emergence therefrom did not destroy any sort of internal logic (the way, for instance, Shakespeare’s end of Cymbeline just mocks the rest of the play).

Things I liked about it? Well, the basic concept of the Spin was interesting, moderately difficult to grasp, and provoked a bunch of interesting what-ifs. Although the protagonist was not a scientist, he got to hang out near some scientists who were doing what we doctors like to call science, or at least something that looked, from a distance like it. There were a few entertaining sub-plots that provided distraction from the Big What-if, so that different aspects could be explored without boring the audience to death. I liked the whole missing-letters bit, which was not entirely relevant but not entirely irrelevant either, which is a nice trick to pull off.

chazak, chazak, v’nitchazek,

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