I’ve been feeling in the mood lately for some good hard science sci fi, so thought I would get back to the Spin series. I strongly recommend that you go to my review of the first book, Spin, which you will find here, because you will need it to understand Axis.
Axis takes place on the new planet introduced at the end of Spin, a world the Hypotheticals engineered to support human life and connected to Earth by way of the Arch that towers hundreds of miles over the Indian Ocean. Humans are colonizing this new world — and, predictably, fiercely exploiting its resources, chiefly large deposits of oil in the western deserts of the continent of Equatoria.
Remember those folks who colonized Mars back in Spin? The reversed engineered some Hypothetical pharmaceuticals and created a drug that would add 20 or 30 more years to one’s lifespan, while at the same time making the individual more compassionate and caring. Bring it on, we could use some of that ourselves. It was all done around a kind of quasi-religious structure in order to control it. The head guy brought it to Earth on his only visit between the planets, and the Earth government was quick to outlaw it, seeing how it would surely instantly be explointed. People who took the drug were call Fourths, for what was thought of as the fourth stage of life, and it was illegal and the Fourths kept their existence very secret and hidden.
Lise Adams is a young woman attempting to uncover the mystery of her father’s disappearance ten years earlier. Turk Findley is an ex-sailor and sometimes-drifter. They come together when showers of comet dust seed the planet with tiny remnant Hypothetical machines. Soon, this seemingly hospitable world becomes very alien, as the nature of time is once again twisted by entities unknown.
A quasi-religious group of “Fourths” from Earth, led by Dr. Avram Dvali, lives in the desert seeded by falling dust. They’ve created a child they call Isaac with a Martian upgrade (fatal to adults) that connects him with the Hypotheticals. They are hoping he will be able to communicate with the Hypotheticals and gather some answers for them. The Fourth-hunting “Department of Genomic Security” is searching for this group or for a visiting Martian Fourth who disapproves of Isaac’s creation.
I don’t know that this a good stand-alone or merely a bridge between Spin and the third of the trilogy, Vortex, but you can read it and enjoy it without having first read Spin, but why would you? The trilogy is an examination of our notions of religion, identity, our place in the universe, and what would appear to be our need for a deity. If you prefer your sci fi to be space opera-y, and less intellectual, maybe this is not for you, although the storyline is compelling on its own without having to think too much. But if you prefer, as I do, the kind of sci fi that does what sci fi does best — that is, look at the bigger picture, ask the big questions that probably have no answers, make you realize that we really ARE just a microscopic dot in this ever-expanding cosmos, then you will truly enjoy this trilogy.