In Which Our Heroine Spins Out

2 July 2005

I'm all packed, and all the right people have all the right keys and phone numbers and this and that. We will have high-speed internet connectivity in our hotel room, but I don't expect to update while we're gone, and I won't spend a lot of time on e-mail. If it's a genuine emergency, Timprov has our contact info; if you can't get him here at the house, Stella also has the necessary information. Non-emergency stuff will reach me on e-mail but may or may not get a response; no guarantees.

Other than that, I'll see you next Sunday or so.

I finished reading Robert Charles Wilson's Spin a few minutes ago, which was a relief: I hate taking half-finished books on airplanes (especially hardbacks), and I hate leaving half-finished books home.

Another review I read online -- I forget where -- said that Spin was a novel of big ideas that didn't skimp on things like character development. And that was true...ish. Sort of true-like. The characters were extremely well-developed. I also didn't like more than perhaps two of them, and they were not main or major characters. If you're the sort of person who has to like the characters to like the book, I can't say you should read Spin. I kept feeling like the women characters didn't actually get to do anything of interest: all the moving and shaking, the launching and calculating and figuring out, was either done by men or by offstage non-characters. The women were such fascinating types as Martyred Mommy, Drunken Mommy, and Confused Object of Affections. Don't get me wrong: they were extremely well-drawn examples of these types, examples rather than total stereotypes. But as far as actually getting something interesting to do, I can't think of a female character who did. On the other hand, the main character was male, and he spent the whole book (which was more or less his whole life to that point) following the same two people around, so it's hard to see it as a very gendered thing at that point.

And yet with all this grousing about the characters, I still cared what happened next. I cared throughout. There was never any question of whether I would finish this book. The field around Earth: cool. The fact that people kept trying to figure out what was going on at the same time as other people threw their hands in the air and ran about in circles: cool. Cantaloupe skin and the bits that go with it (to avoid spoilers there): cool. The ending didn't resolve much for me, but the varied ways in which people reacted to the Big Incomprehensible Stuff worked quite well for me, even when I didn't like the specific people at all. There were bits that would have made whole novels scattered through this, and while I sometimes wish Wilson had written those novels instead, there are far worse reactions than wanting more at various spots in a book.

Anyway, anyway. I'm going to throw some granola bars in my backpack and make sure everything is in order around here. I should return with lots of London pictures (Bletchley Park Bletchley Park!) and then start accumulating puppies soon thereafter. You can be bribed with pictures, right? Of course you can.

(And I will not start a new novel while I'm gone. Will not not not not not. You my hold me to that.)

Have a good week.

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