Wool is a series of five science fiction novellas by Hugh Howey. The novellas follow directly one after the other, and though they follow different main characters form one continuous narrative. I don’t know if you can get Wool as a paper book; I got the whole thing in Kindle format as the Wool Omnibus Edition: Wool 1-5.
The tales take place some hundreds of years in our future. The surviving remnant of mankind lives in an underground silo, beneath a burnt, sere landscape and an atmosphere filled with bugs and chemicals that will destroy an unprotected human being in minutes. The silo extends almost 150 levels deep; only on the uppermost level are there view screens showing the world outside. Over time the lenses of the cameras that feed the view screens get dirty; and every so often a criminal is sentenced to go outside and clean them. The assignment is invariably fatal.
Of course, we have lots of questions. Who are these people? Was the silo built for their protection, or is it a converted missile silo? Are they truly the only human beings left on Earth? What happened to the world outside? Will it ever be safe to go out? There are reasons to believe that those in power are lying….
Howey skillfully weaves the answers into the series so that we are always finding out more but generally know less than we think we do. The series is undeniably bleak, especially at the beginning, but curiosity kept me reading all of the way through.
Having finished it…well, it was an interesting ride but in the end I didn’t believe the answers. It’s the sort of book where everything makes sense as you go along, but then as you think it out later you start noticing how improbable it all is. I can’t give examples without spoiling the book. If that bothers you, give it a miss.