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Hugh Howey

(1975- )
Hugh Howey spent 8 years working as a yacht captain. When he was pulled away from the sea by the love of his life, he turned to his childhood dream of becoming an author. His Molly Fyde series has won praise from reviewers, and now his Wool series has become a #1 bestseller, with Random House publishing in the UK and Ridley Scott and Steve Zaillian securing the film rights. He lives in Jupiter, Florida with his wife Amber and their dog Bella. Learn more at Hugh Howey’s website.


Wool (Silo) — (Began in 2011-2013) This is the story of mankind clawing for survival, of mankind on the edge. The world outside has grown unkind, the view of it limited, talk of it forbidden. But there are always those who hope, who dream. These are the dangerous people, the residents who infect others with their optimism. Their punishment is simple. They are given the very thing they profess to want: They are allowed outside.

Omnibus editions:

WOOL: An elaborate knitting metaphor

WOOL by Hugh Howey

Wool is the omnibus edition of Hugh Howey’s WOOL series. The first book in the series, Wool, is more of a short story. I don't even think it hits novella length. It would be just a good-sized chapter in some epic brick. And what do you do at the end of a particularly good chapter? You just turn the page and keep reading.

That's something to keep in mind for anyone who plans on reading the WOOL books. Just buy the omnibus edition, because you will want to keep reading when you get to the end of the first story. And then you will yell at the book and want to keep reading at the end of the third. And by the time you get to the fourth, you will just think, "I can ignore my family for a few more hours because I really need to keep reading this right now because I am freaking going to kill someone if they keep me from finding out what happ... Read More

WOOL: The characters are so compelling

Wool by Hugh Howey

I picked up the Wool Omnibus, by Hugh Howey, some time ago, though I can’t recall why. Possibly something I saw somewhere, possibly it was a Kindle daily deal. But when I saw it on Ruth’s top ten list for this year (we’ll publish that post next week), I decided it was time to pull up the first story (it’s somewhat a serialized tale). So I did. And I read it. And then I read the second. And then the third. And when I got to the end of what I had on my Kindle, I checked to see if the story continued. The Wool story doesn’t, but I’ll be getting to the prequels pretty soon, I can tell you that.

The setting is not all that original. It’s basically a “For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky” genre: a group of people are living in an artificial world and eventually learn that the world is larger than they imagined, as well as tha... Read More

Wool: Not just your average dystopia

Wool by Hugh Howey

Whoever thinks George R.R. Martin is notorious for killing people off needs to take some tips from Hugh Howey. Two words: Main. Characters. You'd think this would be a slightly jarring way to introduce your novel, but it's testament to Howey's storytelling skills that this remains a compulsive tale.

Wool is another addition to the hugely over-saturated dystopia genre (not helped by the comparison to The Hunger Games on the cover of my edition). The premise of the book is not massively original. You’ve got your classic post-apocalyptic scenario: planet Earth had been left desolate and the remains of humanity live in an underground silo. Life in the silo is restricted by a series of regulations that its inhabitants can’t break without being sent for ‘c... Read More

First Shift: Can’t wait to see what happens next!

First Shift by Hugh Howey

First Shift is part six in the Wool series by Hugh Howey, and is actually a prequel. If you have read the Wool books — don’t worry, no spoilers if you haven’t (also, why have you not read Wool yet? I’ve foisted it off on at least a dozen people and they all loved it) — you know that humanity has retreated to a meticulously planned underground silo to escape the radiation and toxin ravaged outside world. Since this is set on Earth, one must ask oneself, how did this happen? I mean, underground silos with the technology to support life for hundreds of years don’t just happen, they have to be planned. So, how do you plan something like this? Well, you’re about to find out.

Set in the near future, First Shift tells two intertwined stories. The first is the story of a United Sta... Read More

Second Shift: Order: Documenting the descent

Second Shift: Order by Hugh Howey

In Second Shift: Order, the seventh installment in the WOOL stories by Hugh Howey, we learn more of the details of how this society descended into its post-apocalyptic world. The story recounts the tale of an impending uprising in Silo 18. The action is recounted through two different characters. The first is Mission, a young porter in Silo 18, and the second is Donald, and IT supervisor in Silo 1, the main administrative silo. Between the two of them, you see both the personal and impersonal views of what a revolution means, how it starts, is maintained, and possibly succeeds or fails.

Howey is doing something that I think is fairly unusual in dystopian literature; he is taking time to fully explain how the apocalypse came about and how a society can be transitioned from an individualistic to a community-oriented one. There is a fairly s... Read More

Dust: Immaculate plotting

Dust by Hugh Howey

I know I’ve retired from reviewing, but since I reviewed the first two volumes in the WOOL trilogy (the WOOL and SHIFT books) and there isn’t a review for this third one, I thought I would do a little guest review here for my friends at FanLit because nothing sucks more than the first two books in a trilogy being great and then the third one going right off the rails and exploding in a burst of unresolved plot lines and out of character behavior.

Let me just say, that fate has been avoided here. Dust by Hugh Howey is a sizeable story, taking its time to bring together all the different plot lines and hints it’s spent the first two volumes laying out and weaving them together into a satisfying conclusion. All the little things that have been scratching at the back of your head since the first book — why are the levels so far apart? — get answered. I h... Read More

The Plagiarist: PKD would have written this story

The Plagiarist by Hugh Howey

The Plagiarist is a science fiction novella written by Hugh Howey, who recently became famous for his self-published WOOL series. The plagiarist of the title is Adam Griffey, a college professor who uses newly discovered technology at his university to visit virtual worlds where he seeks out brilliant authors, memorizes their works, and brings them back to our world. Everyone knows the works are plagiarized, but since the author doesn’t live in our world, it doesn’t count, and our protagonist gets the credit for discovering the talent and, most importantly, he gets the money for the sales. This sort of plagiarism isn’t just for literature, though. Adam has colleagues in other departments who do the same thing, and now all fields of knowledge — science, technology, art, etc. — are advancing rapidly because of the discoveries made in virtual worlds.

All is going well for Adam — his w... Read More

I, Zombie: Revolting and highly recommended

I, Zombie by Hugh Howey

Imagine a zombie. An image springs instantly to mind. A rotting corpse, shuffling along, arms held out clumsily, grunting and groaning as it makes its way inexorably forward. Now imagine you, yourself, your ego, inside that zombie. You are that zombie, your consciousness trapped inside a brain that no longer has control over your body, your life, your insatiable hunger. You watch yourself feast on the flesh of those who are no longer survivors of the plague that has infested New York City, revolted by the feel and taste of human waste in your mouth as you gorge yourself on intestines and flesh. You pray for release from this un-life, but you are trapped, a passenger along for the ride on a body you no longer control.

In I, Zombie, Hugh Howey has created a top-notch horror novel and a metaphorically resonant examination of the human condition. I don’t normally rea... Read More

The Walk up Nameless Ridge: Engrossing short story

The Walk up Nameless Ridge by Hugh Howey

The Walk up Nameless Ridge is a short story (18 pages, 39 minutes on audio) written by indie writer Hugh Howey of recent WOOL fame. You can order it for less than $2 at Audible or purchase it for 99c as a Kindle Single and then add the professional narration (Jonathan Davis!!!) for 99c more.

The story is about a mountain climber who hopes to be the first person to summit the famous 60,000 foot peak on the planet Eno, even if it kills him. What he wants more than anything is to leave a legacy, even if it means he has to leave other people, including his family, behind. There are others on the mountain who, presumably, have the same goal. What price are these climbers willing to pay in order to be remembered? After all, nobody cares who got there second. Our climber must grapple with these ethical issues and must live (or die) with the choices he makes.

I was completel... Read More

Sand: A tender novel

Sand by Hugh Howey

Hugh Howey has a gift for creating elaborate dystopian worlds that readers love to visit despite the fact that they’d never want to actually live there. In Sand, his unfortunate characters abide in a desert world that is gradually being buried by sand which constantly blows in from the east. Over the years its relentless intrusion has overcome so many towns that new generations keep building on top of the ruins of their predecessors. Nobody knows where the sand comes from or why. Nobody knows if there’s anything better over the horizon because when people leave to find out, they never return.

The heroes of the story are the wife and four children of a man who left them years ago. They are a bitter bunch, left to try to hold their family together in a hopeless situation. The mother has resorted to prostitution, the oldest daughter is plagued by painful memories, the oldest son has disappeared. The younger s... Read More

SFM: Isabel Yap, Hugh Howey, Michael Livingston, Michael J. Sullivan, Sherwood Smith, Judith Tarr

Short Fiction Monday: There is so much free or inexpensive short fiction available on the internet these days. Here are a few stories we read this week that we wanted you to know about. We'll put our favorites at the top.

The Oiran's Song" by Isabel Yap (2015, free at Uncanny Magazine)

"The Oiran's Song" is the tale of a young man who is sold into service with a traveling group of Japanese soldiers; this is a better fate than what befell his younger brother. It's also the tale of a young woman who entertains soldiers through various methods, traveling with them for as long as her services are required. It's also about human cruelty and kindness. It's about oni and snow and blood and vengeance and the fragility of hope. The brutality of war and human depravity are ever-present, but Yap never victimizes her characters: the terrible things which hap... Read More

More speculative fiction from Hugh Howey

Molly Fyde — (Began in 2009) Growing up an orphan in the Milky Way hasn’t been easy, especially as a teenage girl in the Naval Academy. Unfortunately for Molly Fyde, things are about to get worse. Just as she’s finding her place amongst the boys, her unfair expulsion from the Academy takes away the only two things that truly matter: flying in space and her training partner, Cole. Sent off to a normal school, she feels destined for a dull, unspectacular future. Then, a marvelous discovery changes everything: Her father’s old starship, missing for a decade, turns up halfway across the galaxy. Its retrieval launches Molly and Cole on the adventure of a lifetime, one that will have lasting consequences for themselves and billions of others. What starts off as a simple quest to reconnect with her past, ends up forging a new future. And the forgotten family she hoped to uncover is replaced by a new one she never foresaw: a band of alien misfits and runaways… The crew of the starship Parsona.


Half Way Home by Hugh HoweyHalf Way Home — (2010) Less than sixty kids awaken on a distant planet. The colony ship they arrived on is aflame. The rest of their contingent is dead. They’ve only received half their training, and they are being asked to conquer an entire planet. Before they can, however, they must first survive each other. In this gritty tale of youths struggling to survive, Hugh Howey fuses the best of young adult fantasy with the piercing social commentary of speculative fiction. The result is a book that begs to be read in a single sitting. An adventurous romp that will leave readers exhausted and begging for more.The Hurricane by Hugh Howey

The Hurricane — (2011) Daniel Stillman’s Life: 42 Facebook friends 18 Cell phone contacts 6 Twitter followers 4 blog subscribers Now a category five storm is about to take this all away. And replace it with a neighbor he’s never met.


Thoughtful Thursday: It’s the end of the world as we know it

Today we welcome Hugh Howey, author of the WOOL books, recent favorites of mine. If you haven't read them, you really must! Unless, that is, the world ends tomorrow... And if it doesn't, we'll send one commenter the Kindle version of the WOOL omnibus or a book from our stacks

It starts with an earthquake, birds and snakes, an aeroplane -- Lenny Bruce is not afraid.
So begins R.E.M.’s classic hit about the end of the world. Now, I don’t know what Lenny Bruce’s source of inner strength was, but he wou... Read More