I don’t remember where and when I acquired Wool, and this failure of memory is out of character for me. I usually remember where my books came from. Wool is a postapocalyptic/dystopian fantasy novel – you know, like just about everything else being published these days. What I didn’t realize until recently, though, is that it is a postapocalyptic/dystopian fantasy novel that is built around a series of knitting metaphors. This is not quite so common. The title, Wool, is one of these references, of course, but Wool could mean anything. I didn’t recognize the knitting references until I looked at the table of contents and saw section titles called “Proper Gauge,” “Casting Off,” “The Unraveling,” and so forth. Then I decided that not only did I have to read this novel ASAP but that it absolutely had to be a Yarn Along book.
So far I’m not seeing a lot of substance in the knitting references. This is a novel about a bunch of people who live in an underground silo because the air outdoors has become so toxic that breathing it means certain death. The interrelationships between the people in the silo are as contentious as one might expect; politics and the struggle for power play themselves out as they do in most human communities, and there are divided loyalties and evil scheming sociopaths and the like. One key character, the mayor of the silo, has just been killed by a canteen of poison water that was meant for the sheriff’s deputy, Marnes, who has been “traveling” with the mayor (i.e. descending hundreds of floors into the silo and then climbing up again) in an attempt to find a new sheriff after the previous sheriff “cleaned.” “Cleaned” means that he was sent outside in a special suit with the task of cleaning the sensors that give the silo residents a view of the world outside. “Cleaning” ends in death, because the toxins in the air buy a person a little bit of time but end up eating their way through their protective clothing. In fact, “cleaning” is used as a synonym for death in this novel. Usually “cleaning” is a punishment for a crime, but in the sheriff’s case he volunteered. His wife had “cleaned” three years earlier, and he had decided that he no longer wanted to live without her. When he does leave the silo, however, we’re given a few hints to suggest that maybe the physical limitations of this world are not what they appear. It may be that someone, somewhere, lied to all these people about the air being toxic. We don’t know for sure. I’ll tell you more when I finish the book. I will also try to tell you what all of this has to do with knitting. I’m as curious as you are.
What you see in the photo is a sleeve of the brown sweater. I’m making progress, I promise!
Yarn Along is hosted by Ginny on her blog, Small Things.