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Spin is a sci-fi trilogy by Robert Charles Wilson, featuring the novels Spin,Axis and Vortex.
The first book in the series, Spin, follows narrator Tylor Dupree and his childhood friends, twins Jason and Diane Lawton. As children they witness the strange phenomenon that alters the course of human history: the night the stars disappeared from the night sky. As they grow up, the world slowly discovers the truth: the Earth has been covered by a membrane (dubbed "The Spin") that slows down the flow of time on our planet. A lot.
Trying to find out where The Spin came from, and looking for ways to survive the destruction of Earth, forms the plot of Spin.
- Belief Makes You Stupid: The twins, Jason and Diane, take two different paths in life. Jason becomes an influential genius scientist, working to decrypt the mysteries of the Spin and possibly save the world. Diane, on the other hand, turns to religion and goes off the deep end, eventually ending up in a cult in the middle of desert in Arizona, playing subservient housewife to her Perpetual Smiler Wide-Eyed Idealist husband. A husband who later lets Diane nearly die after she contracts a serious illness because he thinks the rapture will be happening soon and there's no point in getting her any sort of treatment.
- Benevolent Alien Invasion: Not an invasion, but "The Hypotheticals" planted the spin membrane to protect the people on Earth (and later Mars)
- Big Dumb Object: The Archway, a gargantuan arch later discovered to be a full circle, just halfway embedded into the Earth stretching across the Indian Ocean and reaching out of the atmosphere. Near the end of Spin it's discrovered that the Archway is a gateway to an earth-like planet, light years away, intended for humanity to colonize and expand into.
- Bio Augmentation: The "Fourth Age". Available to the protagonists late in the story, it is a nano-augmentation that fundamentally changes the user in both physical and neurological ways. Dubbed by some as "the adulthood beyond adulthood" due to the mental clarity and maturity that a Fourth exhibits. Also allows for different advanced "modules" to be installed that include the ability to communicate with a network of other nanotech.
- Black Sheep: Diane, whose father and brother are contemptuous of her new religion.
- Child Prodigy: Jason Lawton. His oppressive father, E.D. Lawton, realized Jason's potential and spent his entire life grooming him for power and feeding his potential, intending Jason to take over the family business after he dies.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Jason and Diane's father, E. D. Lawton, who cares more about making money off strategies to deal with the Spin than whether or not those strategies are actually effective.
- Faster-Than-Light Travel: Averted by the Hypotheticals, who are revealed to be a collective of Von Neumman replicators that stretch across the whole galaxy and are forced to "think" very slowly due to the distance between them and the speed of light. Played straight with the Archway, but only because it's part of a Portal Network.
- First Contact: Not so much. "The Hypotheticals" that are presumably responsible for the Spin membrane never directly speak with humanity or even explain their motives. Justified in that it's discovered that their cognition is so slow that any sort of "contact" or communication is impossible. We Are as Mayflies indeed.
- Inadequate Inheritor: Jason's father feels this way about handing off control of Perihelion, the government agency responsible for managing the Spin, to Jason.
- Mohs Scale of Science Fiction Hardness: Medium to hard.
- Nanomachines: Used as a gigantic data gathering network, intended to span multiple star systems. This is what "The Hypotheticals" are revealed to be.
- No Conservation of Energy: Due to the time differential, the people on Earth would normally be subject to three year's worth of sunlight every second. The Spin somehow absorbs all this energy to keep people safe, but where exactly this energy goes is never explained (it isn't radiated away, at least).
- Maybe it goes towards maintaining that time dilation field.
- Portal Network: Buying time to set this up is the purpose of the Spin membrane, since the portals have to be towed into place the slow way (i.e. slower than light, which takes millions of years to get anywhere appreciable).
- Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: Averted - Outside the Earth's Spin membrane, 4 billion years pass during the events of the book, enough to set up an interstellar network of nanomachines and to terraform Mars
- Starfish Aliens: The only character who manages something resembling "communication" with The Hypotheticals ends up dying from the episode. Without the aliens even realizing. It turns out they weren't even trying to communicate in the first place. The character in question describes it as the aliens trying to assimilate him via his nanotech - they don't realize that he's an intelligent being and think that his nanotech is just an exploitable system they can absorb, which is a normal thing for them to do
- Terraform: As our sun expands, the habitable "goldilocks" zone around it expands, leading to Mars starting to warm up enough to become Earth-like. The humans on Earth take advantage of this, and combined with the Time Dilation of the Spin membrane, are able to easily terraform Mars into a habitable refuge.
- Simply load up a rocket with simple bacteria. Shoot it out of the Spin membrane in the direction of Mars. Wait a day (hundred thousand years outside). Load up another rocket with more advanced bacteria. Shoot it at Mars. Load up a final rocket with some colonists...
- The Stars Are Going Out: Happens at the beginning of Spin, as the Spin membrane goes into place.
- The Stoic: The main character, Tyler Dupree, though he occasionally verges into The Spock and Extreme Doormat. He's perfectly fine with people treating him like crap, taking it all with hardly an eyeblink, and is able to give humble and reasonable explanations later on for why he acts certain ways. Instead of getting angry, he simply cuts someone to their core with his words. As a love interest later in the novel (bitterly) puts it: "If reasonableness was a knife, I'd be lying on the floor and bleeding out"
- Time Dilation: What the Spin does.