by Hugh Howey
“It was supposed to be people who died and cultures that lasted. Now it was the other way around.”
Prequel to the best-selling Wool and containing a few of the same characters, in Shift Howey charges himself with reasoning how and why the world ended. Despite the majority of the action happening within the silos, Shift is a much different book than Wool.
Shift begins on Earth much as we know it now, advanced beyond what we’re reported today, but probably not much advanced over what we’re not reported today. Medical science has taken to using miniature robots, nanos, for organ and tissue repair. And of course, if some humans are using them to repair, others are using them to tear down. Deployed on a massive scale you have the equivalent of world wide nuclear war. The surface is uninhabitable, setting the stage for Wool.
As seems to be the case everywhere, atrocities on grand scales are always caused by madmen in power. Atrocities on smaller scales are caused by madmen in less power. If Wool was about war, then Shift is about politics and human psychology, both indivisible from war. Wool contains righteous anger, sometimes on both sides of the battle, whereas Shift contains sadness, with characters focusing on how hopeless our situation is and which drives the plot forward.
Having read Shift it’s easy to get the feeling things may end differently than what may have been predicted after reading Wool. It might all turn out OK, but with the final book in the trilogy entitled Dust, turning out OK is not necessarily in the cards.
Shift is an enjoyable read and a different beast than its predecessor despite the similar silo setting. We can hope for blue skies for the human race, but chances are diminishing.
From the dedication: “To those who find themselves well and truly alone.”