March 29, 2013

Wool and Proper Gauge by Hugh Howey

Wool on The Book 
Wool was selected as a January read for Coursera Fantasy and Sci Fi book club. I am terribly late for it, I know, but I try my best if not to keep up then at least to read everything they read. Written in 2011, Wool is a very modern Sci-Fi, and this is fairly new to me. I usually read classics of the genre, to be on the safe side. So I'm glad I was introduced to something newer! Now, to the books themselves.

Wool (Wool, #1) 
This one is simply great! It is just a short story really, but it makes a good introduction to the world and the people of the series. The setting is post-apocalyptic Earth, with people living in underground silos, as the atmosphere of the Earth is poisonous. The only connection to the surface they have is the cameras outside that project the landscape to big screens. And these cameras need cleaning. Whoever says he wants to go out is allowed to do so and asked to clean the cameras. And they go out and clean them and die outside when the air in their environmental suits is spent. And everybody sees their rotting remains outside, but still there are people who want to go out. Why? Because rumors are the screens are fake and there is still life outside.

I read it in one go and was so impressed I couldn't sleep afterwards. The ending is very unsettling, but it makes the point. I would say it's a very classical Sci-Fi short story, that's exactly what you expect from the genre, and it's really good. What I was wondering after finishing this book is why write 7 more....

Proper Gauge (Wool, #2)
But in spite of the first book being a well-formed separate piece of writing, it was made a series. And in the second book the main characters and the manner of writing change completely. I admit I felt frustrated and disappointed, and that's the reason it took me so long to read the ~50 pages that constitute the book. Apart from being a mere descriptive tour of the world (as it seemed in the beginning) it is also a bit too stretched. I have even decided not to read further, but everything that happened in the last 10% of the book have changed my mind. So now I'll probably try one more and see how it goes. An unexpected plot turn is good, but the remaining part of the book should have something in it too. So we'll see :)

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