Back a few months ago, I was wandering the Intertubes when my index finger landed on a delightfully named tome – Wool Omnibus at a delightful pocket-friendly price. One-click later and I plunged head-first into a fully realized dystopian world, where an unnamed catastrophe has forced humans to live underground in silos. In a few short paragraphs, Hugh Howey paints such a vivid picture of this self-contained universe, I had to glance up to reassure myself that the scene of the breeze-waving bushes outside my window was real. I’m the kind of reader who likes to be grabbed by prose in the first sentences of a narrative and boy did this one set the tone. ****SPOILERS****
“The children were playing while Holsten climbed to his death;…” My immersion into this agoraphobic world was instantaneous. The first story of the collection introduces us to the doomed man whom we learn is the sheriff, as he trudges upwards to the end of his life and backwards in flashbacks of life in the silo. The following stories pick up on the ripples of Holsten’s demise on his successor, the new sheriff who suddenly who is unceremoniously thrust into a deep conspiracy that threatens to destabilize the whole system.
When we catch glimpses of the silo universe, it is an exquisitely rendered world where books describe a sky with a mythical blue color and a forgotten past spent above ground. Where one’s clothing designates their livelihood and apartment floors signify class. A culture that looks alien but rings true…
Needless to say, I devoured the book in a fugue state of speed-reading, only stopping for sips of tea. It is an exceptional gateway into the gripping Silo series; most importantly, Howey constructs an open sandbox where fellow writers, readers and fans can play with reckless abandon. Thanks to his generosity, my next Silo fix is just another click away.