Hugh Howey’s Wool Omnibus, the 5-part science fiction story of the residents of a silo in a future where the air is toxic, was published last year for Kindle only, and after taking the internet by storm, was released this year in hardcover, paperback and audio formats. Wool began as the short story of a sheriff in the silo being sent to cleaning for the be-careful-what-you-wish-for desire to go outside, 3 years after his wife was also sent to cleaning. The popularity of the Wool short story prompted Howey to write 4 more stories, now available as the Wool Omnibus.
Cleaning in the silo refers to being sent into the unbreathable air in an astronaut-like suit, armed with steel wool, and cleaning the grit and dirt off the lenses that allow the inhabitants of the silo to see the outside world. It is a one-way trip, a punishment combined with population control. Why those sent to cleaning actually carry out the task is a mystery to those left behind, but also one of many subjects that are taboo.
After the sheriff’s cleaning, the mayor must find a new sheriff and is directed to Juliette, a woman who works in mechanical with no experience in the law, other than having helped in an investigation. But when Juliette discovers some information that the powers that be don’t want known, she too is sent to cleaning. The question of whether or not Juliette actually cleans, and what happens to her after, is the catalyst for an uprising and then full-on war.
Wool tells of a bleak future outside, but life going on as usual inside, with greenhouses and farms with animals such as pigs for food, a hospital, and a continuous round staircase that serves as transportation between floors. Howey has created a believable world with well-drawn characters and is a standout in the glut of self-published novels now available.
This is a long book — the audio version is almost 18 hours, and the print 500+ pages — but once the story gets going, it’s one you can’t put down. Fans of science fiction, or those interested in human nature in a dystopian society, will enjoy this story.
Notes on the audiobook: I enjoyed listening to this story, even with its length, and felt the narrator did a great job with pacing, voices and conveying the emotions of the characters.
Nancy fears a world much like the on described in Wool, and hopes it never comes to pass. She writes about her boys, books and life in Colorado at Life With My Boys and Books.