Axis by Robert Charles Wilson was originally published in 2007. My paperback copy has 355 pages. This is the sequel to Spin and takes place thirty years later. Again, Wilson has written a fine character driven science fiction novel that makes a nice follow up to Spin. Apparently there is going to be a third book in this series. Hopefully, if that is true, Wilson will answer some questions, and tie up some loose ends. Since I have a natural preference for hard science fiction, I don't want to fault Wilson for doing what he does best, place well developed characters into a science fiction setting. Recommended.
Synopsis from cover:
Engineered by the mysterious Hypotheticals to support human life, it's 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, exploiting its resources, chiefly large deposits of oil in the western deserts of the continent of Equatoria.
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 sometime drifter. They come together when an infall of cometary dust seeds the planet with tiny remnant Hypothetical machines.Now Lise, Turk, a Martian woman, and a boy who has been engineered to communicate with the Hypotheticals, are drawn to a place in the desert where this seemingly hospitable world has become suddenly very alien indeed - and the nature of time is being once again twisted by entities unknown.
"In the summer of his twelfth year - the summer the stars began to fall from the sky - the boy Isaac discovered that he could tell east from west with his eyes closed." first sentence
" 'They used to ask me a lot of questions - how I felt, and what ideas I had, and what things in books meant. But they didn't like my answers.' Eventually they had stopped asking, just as they had stopped giving him blood tests, psychological tests, perception tests." pg. 9
"Each night he discovered himself aligned almost perfectly with the W on the face of the compass.
Then he did it again. And again. And again." pg. 10
"She reminded herself to focus on the work. On the real reason she was here. The unexplained loss that had opened a chasm in her life twelve years ago." pg. 19
"Why turn the western half of the continent into a no-fly zone?" pg. 25
"It looked to Lise like something was actually falling out there - not meteors but bright dots that hung in the air like flares..." pg. 28
"But, in a way, that was exactly typical. The New World had a habit of reminding you it wasn't Earth. Things happened differently here. It ain't Kansas, as people liked to say, and they probably said the same thing in a dozen different languages. It ain't the Steppes. It ain't Kandahar. It ain't Mombassa." pg.29
"Gray and powdery. Tyrell's description was on the money. Turk has never seen volcanic ash, but he imagined this was what it might look like. It sifted down over the wooden slats and boards of the patio and drifted against the window glass." pg. 32