Satisfying--like the sensation you get after finishing a wonderful dessert or the perfect cup of coffee--describes how I felt after I finished reading the 2006 Hugo winning novel, Spin by Robert Charles Wilson. It had just the right combination of character development and science. I liked how the plot, using two different timelines, continued to introduce questions for the reader, answered some questions while introducing more questions, and finally answered the overarching questions of the novel. I felt rewarded when the two timelines finally merged.
The story is told from the view point of Tyler Dupree, who is friends with twins Jason and Diane. At the beginning of The Spin they are 12 and 13, just being kids one night when all of a sudden all the stars disappear. In time, they learn that a temporal barrier has been place around the earth; one second on earth is equivalent to 3.17 years in the rest of the universe. The story goes on to chronicle how The Spin affects the friends’ lives for the next few decades on earth.
The style of the book reminds me of Robert J. Sawyer’s The Neanderthal Parallax trilogy: both focus on the characters, take place--more or less--in the present, have a strong “what if this happened” element, and extrapolate from some interesting science. The writing is very good and tight; many of the descriptions are used to either further the plot or to develop the characters.
The “chocolate sprinkles on top” for me was when Wilson alluded to Robert Heinlein’s Stranger In A Strange Land, the 1962 Hugo winner. Once I finish reading the Hugo winning novels I definitely want to read more of Robert Charles Wilson’s novels.