Silo (series)

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Hugh C Howey Wool Omnibus.jpg
Wool Omnibus

AuthorHugh Howey
CountryUnited States
GenreScience fiction, Dystopian fiction, Apocalyptic fiction
PublisherBooktrack (with soundtrack)
Kindle Direct Publishing
Media typee-book
No. of books9 + omnibus

Silo is a series of post-apocalyptic science fiction books by American writer Hugh Howey. The series started in 2011 with the short story "Wool", which was later published together with four sequel novellas as a novel with the same name. Along with Wool, the series consists of Shift, Dust, three short stories and Wool: The Graphic Novel.[1]


Howey first began the series in 2011, initially writing Wool as a stand-alone short story. He published the work through Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing system, choosing to do so due to the freedom of self-publishing. After the series grew in popularity, he began to write more entries for it.[2] Howey began soliciting international rights in 2012, and has since signed a deal for dramatic rights in Brazil.[3] Film rights to the series were sold to 20th Century Fox; Lionsgate also expressed interest.[4]

Howey signed a print-only deal for around $500,000 with Simon & Schuster to distribute Wool to book retailers across the US and Canada.[when?] Howey retains full rights to continue distributing Wool online himself.[5]


The story of Wool takes place on a post-apocalyptic Earth.[6] Humanity clings to survival in the Silo, a subterranean city extending one hundred forty-four stories beneath the surface. The series initially follows the character of Holston, the sheriff of the Silo, with subsequent volumes focusing on the characters of Juliette, Jahns, and Marnes. An ongoing storyline of the series is the focus on the mystery behind the Silo and the secrets it holds. The mystery is eventually revealed at the end of book five; Shift, which encompasses books six through eight, comprise a prequel to the series. Book nine, Dust, pulls the storylines together.

Several studies frame the story within the dystopian genre, since Howey includes several of the main features of that type of literature, i.e. a totalitarian rule, rebellion of the main characters or a planned separation between the manned areas and wild natural spaces.[7]


The intro teaser for the book is. "If the lies don't kill you, the truth will."

Book 1 - Holston[edit]

Wool initially follows the story of Holston, the Silo's sheriff. We are shown a man who has been "going through the motions" of his job since the death of his wife, Allison.

Three years earlier, in a psychotic break, she became agitated and demands to be let out of the silo (which essentially is a death sentence.) Since she wants out, she will be put out, in a protective pressure suit, a procedure euphemistically called "cleaning," where the condemned is given a wool cloth (which where the story's name comes from) and instructed to clean the grime off the silo's external sensors and cameras. Allison does so, then walks off a short distance, drops to the ground, removes her helmet, and dies.

Holston had been despondent for the preceding three years since his wife was sentenced to cleaning, because, as sheriff, he essentially had to be his wife's executioner. This, plus other things he discovers about the silo, cause the pressure to become too great and eventually he decides to ask to join her. As he is put out of the airlock in a pressure suit and a wool cleaning cloth, he also performs the ritual of cleaning the cameras and sensors before walking over to the hill where supposedly his wife has died. Weak from exhaustion, oxygen deprivation (the suit has no oxygen tanks) and hunger (while waiting he failed to eat anything), he falls to his knees.

Surprised, he sees that the front display on his suit shows, not a ruined wasteland (as he had been led to believe) but a lush countryside of green grass and blue sky. Holston decided to take off his helmet in order to get fresh air before he suffocated. In doing so, Holston, betrayed by a fake visual display, actually has fallen down next to his wife's rotting corpse, where the barren wasteland, full of toxins, destroys him.

Holston's investigation of the Silo and the secrets it holds ultimately serves as a catalyst that begins to impact the lives of various characters and sets up the action for the rest of the series.

Book 2 - Proper Gauge[edit]

Proper Gauge continues the saga, following the unique relationship of Jahns, the Silo's mayor, and Marnes, the deputy sheriff.

With the death of Sheriff Holston, it is presumed that Marnes would want the job, but he prefers to stay as deputy. He shows the mayor portfolios of three candidates for the job of sheriff. Two of them seem inadequate for the position, and in fact, Marnes had prepared them that way, as there is one person he thinks (as did the late Sheriff Holston) is right for the job: the third candidate, a maintenance technician named Juliette. Marnes knows Juliette as she assisted in an investigation by the sheriff some years ago, and was very sharp and quite helpful.

Instead of sending a wire, (the equivalent of an e-mail) down to maintenance and summoning her, (notwithstanding her own advanced age) Jahns decides she will walk down the 140 flights of stairs (the silo has no elevators, just a wide spiral staircase) to meet Juliette and offer her the job (as well as do some politicking for the mayor's upcoming re-election even though she will almost certainly run unopposed.) Jahns also needs to touch base with the head of IT as they have generally been notified and consulted with before a mayor appointed a new sheriff.

Along the way, Jahns confronts her own mortality. in thinking about her age, especially when a young porter heavily loaded with a pack comes up the spiral staircase, a job that her knees could never have done even in her long and nearly-forgotten youth. She also is curious about three things: why Juliette has never taken any vacation; why she has never come up to see her father; and why, in the 20 years since Juliette moved to maintenance, he has never once tried going down to see her.

Mayor Jahns discovers from Dr. Nichols, Juliette's father, that when Juliette was 12, her mother had a son. Juliette's new brother Nicholas died shortly after birth. A week later, the doctor's wife committed suicide. Juliette asked for permission to apprentice (called "shadowing") in the maintenance department, as Juliette was one year below the minimum age to shadow. Figuring Juliette just wanted to get away for a while to get fresh air and a change of scenery after the double tragedy, he agreed. She never came back. The doctor advises them that he thinks Juliette will not take the job if offered. They decide to continue anyway.

Arriving at level 34, the highly secure IT department whose computers take up the entire floor (and use a lot of electricity), Jahns meets Bernard, the head of IT (which, among other things, makes the suits in which cleaners are sent outside). After explaining the latest atmospheric tests show very little change in the outside contamination, he informs the mayor that he disagrees with her choice of Juliette for sheriff, preferring Peter Billings, one of the other candidates Marnes had shown the mayor. Bernard disapproves of Juliette because of her sometimes creative non-compliance with regulations, while not enough to involve the law, might mean she is diverting supplies for unauthorized purposes or embezzling them.

Bernard has already told Peter that he will have the job, and tries to get the mayor to sign off on the appointment. She informs him this was improper as she sent him the list of candidates in confidence. She says that since he does not have an official complaint against her choice, she will take his suggestion under advisement. She and Marnes continue on their way down to interview Juliette.

While traveling, Jahns muses, worring about her legacy over the many decades she has been mayor, and what with Bernard's hunger for power, she wonders what would happen to the silo if Bernard became mayor, or, puts in a puppet of whom he would hold the strings. Hopefully there will be a smooth transition when she is gone, no abuses of power, and no uprisings.

As they stop for the night at the hydroponics level, the smell of fresh fruit becomes intoxicating. The farmer advises them that they can eat and by the time they finish their rooms will be ready. When asked, Jahns admits it's been four years since she visited the farms. The two of them are assigned separate rooms, but Jahns wishes she had been "more inconvenienced" implying she wished they had to share a bed. The two of them merely sit together on one of the beds, simply enjoying each other's company, with no uncomfortable silences, then she goes to her room. As they continue on, by the time they reach level 100, advanced age has made Mayor Jahns realise that this will be the last trip she makes to the deep lower levels.

They arrive at the mechanical level, and despite having the authority to jump to the front, Jahns and Marnes wait their turn in line. She also realizes she hadn't taken time to polish her proposal when offering the job. When they get to the turnstile, they flash their gold ID's at the guard, who wasn't expecting them on his shift. He proudly signs them in as Mayor and Sheriff, and Jahns decides not to correct him. She asks to see Juliette Nichols but she won't be off shift for an hour. Declining an offer of a meal, the mayor decides to tell the guard that they will go watch Juliette at work. He directs them to an obese man named Knox, who has his shadow take them down to see Juliette.

On level 142 they pass a huge, two-level piece of machinery, a moving arm pushing and pulling a piston. The mayor mistakes this for the generator, but the shadow identifies it as a pump for an oil well that produces the energy that keeps the lights on. The generator is some distance away, and that is the rumbling noise they are hearing. They reach the generator room where the noise is deafening. The shadow hands each of them a pair of noise-cancelling headphones and puts one on as well. Mayor Jahns muses, wondering why the protective equipment is inside the noise zone.

They are brought to a huge machine, with yet another piston, where a woman in overalls is pushing on a huge wrench, attempting to turn an enormous bolt. The shadow goes over to the woman, and tugs on her clothes. Not offering a (very dirty) hand to shake, Juliette leads them to the Control Room, where they can remove their protective gear. Juliette states she didn't expect them until tomorrow afternoon. The mayor explained they made good time and had gotten there faster than expected.

Juliette offers her condolences to Marnes over Holston's death. She also points out to the mayor that the vibration they are feeling is because the primary generator's piston is off by "barely two millimeters" but if it gets worse - and it will get worse eventually - it will tear itself apart. At that point their only hope will be the backup generator. If they could cut power by half, they could switch to the backup generator, shut down the primary and completely repair it. As the mayor has issued an order that they must provide full power, all Juliette can do is patchwork fixes and hope the disaster doesn't happen. When asked when, she says,

Jahns, unaware of this, states she could order a power holiday. Juliette points out that IT uses 1/4 of all the power generated and would never agree to a cutback. Jahns admits to herself she now understands what Marnes sees in her. Marnes mumbles that he thought they were trying to get her to change jobs, not set power conservation plans. Juliette points out she had already informed the Mayor's secretary that she was not interested in going upstairs. She also needs to get back to work, she has more maintenance to do, her shift is almost over, and Knox gets upset if she ends up with too much overtime. They agree to meet later after her shift ends and she's had time to clean up. She also reminds them to be sure to take their headphones.

As they eat in the cafeteria, Jahns muses that they should have kept the ear protection because the maitenance people were very noisy when talking and eating. She suspects that maybe the noise at work is making them deaf. When they go to the bunkroom, Marnes has been assigned a bunk while Jahns has been assigned a private room. They decide to drop their backpacks in the room, and wait there. Juliette arrives, thinks they actually assigned them both to the room but Jahns explains the circumstances, and admits she would have accepted a bunk as well.

Jahns decides to offer Juliette the job, asking her how soon she could start. She says tomorrow would be fine, they can finish the work on the backup generator, and several other things. Jahns realizes she misunderstood her, and thought she was talking about having the power holiday and shutting down the primary generator. Jahns then explains she meant, when could Juliette take the job as sheriff. Juliette explains she has no interest in taking the job. The mayor says those who don't have any interest are the best candidates. Juliette counters that she's irreplaceable, no one could step into her shoes. When questioned about what the machines she works on do, Juliette replies,

The Mayor points out that if she doesn't take the job, the other candidate will be taking orders from "the thirties," implying he will be a puppet of the IT department. This piques Juliette's interest. Jahns also points out they could use someone with her capacity, and as Sheriff, she could be a champion supporting the maintenance department. Juliette asks what happened to Sheriff Holston, and is told he was sent to cleaning, but had actually volunteered. While his late wife may have been part of it - the Sheriff had talked about her while Juliette was helping him investigate Rick's death - it's complicated. Also, the Sheriff's position pays a lot more than her current job, even counting overtime.

The only remaining problem is in case IT still has issues about the stuff Juliette had to scrounge, they can issue backdated authorizations for them. Juliette points out the stuff they got from IT's supplies was "crap, as if it was intentionally made to fall apart," and what they were able to get from supply was of superior quality and could be used for repairs. When questioned, she is adamant that everything she "borrowed" was for legitimate repair and maintenance needs. Juliette says she'll take the job, but only if they get the power holiday, and it will take about a week to implement all the deferred maintenance.

The next scene shows Mayor Jahns, exhaustedly climbing the stairs to level 58. It seems appropriate that she is very tired while there is now a power holiday in effect. Marnes was assigned the (very smelly) bunk in one of the cells of the level 57 mid-silo Sheriff's substation, while Jahns was given a room having a couch with a pull-out bed and nice sheets. While remembering her late husband Donald and how Holston and his wife ended up lying together as lovers do, remembers how she misses the feelings when she and Donald were together. At that moment, in the darkness, Marnes walks in the room, undresses, then slides into bed with her. The two of them make love, and she enjoys the feeling afterward as well, lying in bed, with a man holding her, the first time this has happened to her in decades.

When they arrive on Level 34, the difference is astonishing. The severe power restrictions for everyone else was to accommodate the IT department, which was granted an exemption from the conservation requirement. The lights in IT are on bright and all the servers are humming. Bernard is not pleased about the power holiday, thinking the Mayor - whom he refers to by her first name, Marie - did it to spite him. She points out that IT has been given all the power it needs. Bernard complains this did not include the ventilation, and if the servers start to overheat they'll have to shut some of them down, which has never happened. He also tries to argue over Juliette's appointment as Sheriff, and disagrees. The mayor points out that "the Pact" covers this and the Mayor had the right to appoint whomever she wants. If the mayor is going to be that way, he might not sign off on future appointments. She says if he feels that way she won't bother consulting with IT. Marnes rests his hand on the butt of his revolver and informs Bernard that Juliette has the job. Bernard asks if she thinks the next sheriff will even outlive her, that she should not expect it. He then says he will not sign off on the appointment, and one of the other IT employees does. Bernard also tells the employee to make sure they have enough food, and top off their canteens, "Whatever it takes to power their decrepit legs to wherever it is they belong.”

As they proceed up the staircase to return home, because of the positioning of their backpacks, they have had to resort to drinking from each other's canteens as it was easier to reach the other's backpack than their own. Jahns wants to talk about the rest of the trip, but instead talks about matters Marnes and the new sheriff will have to handle, such as open cases and so on. She's excited about returning home, so much so she's very thirsty, drinking regularly from Marnes' canteen. She's also thinking how the reason Marnes did not want to be sheriff was her; as deputy, there's enough separation for the two of them to have an affair, but if she was his immediate supervisor, as Sheriff such actions would be unthinkable.

As they reach the level where Juliette's father practices medicine, they were not going to stop but her bladder has other plans, and she needs to go bad. As she uses the toilet she feels unwell. As she comes out of the restroom she collapses. She realizes she was poisoned, by drinking from the canteen that was intended for Marnes.

Meanwhile, Juliette is using a device she designed to allow her to do inspections. After four days of the power holiday, the generator has to be restarted by the next morning, and fully operational by evening. The technicians are making necessary adjustments. Juliette considers she wants some settings to be within a thousandth of an inch and hopes they are able to follow the plans they wrote when they were fresh instead of tired as they have been, working non-stop to finish in time. Juliette is somewhat amazed in having the primary generator shut off, as it had never happened before in her lifetime. Juliette looks at her watch, which she repaired by hand, working with very tiny parts and took years to accomplish.

Juliette asks Shirly, the second-shift foreman, if they are ready. She says yes, then steps away from the control panel, as this is Juliette's project, she should have the honor of throwing the switch. Juliette, who could have operated the board in total darkness, is more apprehensive about her new job than starting the primary generator. She holds down the starter until someone yells for her to shut it off. She goes to hit the kill switch until she realizes he meant to let go of the starter, the machine is running. Nobody had any idea what the generator would sound like when things are "normal." The starter motor was louder than the generator when running. The men no longer need ear protection, and one of them tosses his headphones into the air. Juliette now feels she will be able to handle the new position.

Their happiness is disturbed by a Porter reporting very bad news.

Books 3-5[edit]

The saga is continued in Casting Off and runs through The Stranded, as Juliette continues to explore the mysteries of the Silos, bringing her into contact with the head of IT and Lukas, a young astronomer and member of IT. The growing relationship between Lukas and Juliette serves as a backdrop for the remaining three novellas, as the mystery of the Silos is gradually revealed.


Book 6 - Legacy

First Shift is a prequel to the story in the first five Wool novels, where the actions that led to the status quo of the world are explained through the eyes of Donald Keene, a young congressman, and Troy, a silo chief.

Book 7 - Order

Second Shift follows a few of the characters of Book 6 when they are woken from cold-sleep 100 years later to be consulted on some unresolved problems, as well as a young new character in silo 18 named Mission, where they are experiencing internal fighting which threatens their survival.

Book 8 - Pact

Third Shift brings a close to the prequel trilogy. It tells the story of the fall of Silo 17, and the transformation of Jimmy into Solo, as well as the continued story of Donald Keene in Silo 1.[8]


Book 9 - Dust

Dust is the third and final act in the Silo stories. It brings together the lives of Donald, Juliette and the other people in Silo 18, and the survivors from Silo 17.

Short stories[edit]

These are part of The Apocalypse Triptych collection of short stories.

  1. In the Air from The End is Nigh
  2. In the Mountains from The End is Now
  3. In the Woods from The End Has Come


A reviewer for Wired praised the omnibus, stating that it "clears away the grime of the past and reveals the new truth" about change in publishing.[9] Fans have been inspired to write their own scenes, chapters and novels.[10]

Comic book adaptation[edit]

In July 2013, it was announced that Amazon's new comic book imprint Jet City Comics would be releasing a comic book adaptation of the series.[11] Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray will adapt the story and Jimmy Broxton will create the artwork.[12] On July 9, 2013, Howey released a preview of the comic book's cover on his blog.[13]

Film rights[edit]

On May 11, 2012, the film rights to the story have been sold to 20th Century Fox;[14] director Ridley Scott and Steve Zaillian producing the film adaptation.[15][16] In July 2018, AMC announced LaToya Morgan would be adapting Wool for the network as a series.[17]


  1. Wool (July 30, 2011)
  2. Wool: Proper Gauge (November 30, 2011)
  3. Wool: Casting Off (December 11, 2011)
  4. Wool: The Unraveling (December 26, 2011)
  5. Wool: The Stranded (January 25, 2012)
  6. First Shift — Legacy (April 14, 2012)
  7. Second Shift — Order (November 12, 2012)
  8. Third Shift — Pact (January 24, 2013)
  9. Dust (August 17, 2013) ISBN 978-1596066755
  • Wool Omnibus (2012, contains books 1-5) ISBN 978-1476735115
  • Shift Omnibus (2013, contains books 6-8)
  • Galdón Rodríguez, Ángel (2014). "Urban and Natural Spaces in Dystopian Literature Depicted as Opposed Scenarios". Ángulo Recto. Revista de estudios sobre la ciudad como espacio plural. Vol 6. no. 2. ISSN 1989-4015


  1. ^ "Self-published e-book author: 'Most of my months are six-figure months'". CNN. September 7, 2012. Retrieved September 8, 2012.
  2. ^ Wecks, Erik. "Hugh Howey Interview Part 1: Science Fiction, Indie Writing, and Success". Wired. Archived from the original on October 11, 2012. Retrieved 30 September 2012.
  3. ^ Deahl, Rachel. "Self-Made Bestseller Weighs Traditional Deals". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 30 September 2012.
  4. ^ Fleming, Mike. "20th Century Fox Spins 'Wool' For Scott Free And Film Rites". Deadline. Retrieved 30 September 2012.
  5. ^ Alter, Alexandra. "Wool: Sci-Fi's Underground Hit —". Retrieved 2013-03-08.
  6. ^ O'Connell, Sean. "20th Century Fox Interested In Hugh Howey's E-Book Wool?". Cinema Blend. Retrieved 30 September 2012.
  7. ^ Galdon Rodriguez, Angel (2014). "Urban and Natural Spaces in Dystopian Literature Depicted as Opposed Scenarios". Ángulo Recto. Revista de estudios sobre la ciudad como espacio plural. 6 (2). doi:10.5209/rev_ANRE.2014.v6.n2.47585.
  8. ^ Howey, Hugh (2012). Second Shift — Order.
  9. ^ Wecks, Erik. "GeekDad Book Review: The Wool Omnibus by Hugh Howey". Wired. Retrieved 9 June 2015.
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-10-30. Retrieved 2013-12-01.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  11. ^ Dredge, Stuart (10 July 2013). "Amazon bags Game of Thrones author for its Jet City Comics imprint". London: Guardian. Retrieved 14 July 2013.
  12. ^ "Amazon launches comics imprint, featuring George R.R. Martin". Los Angeles Times. July 9, 2013. Retrieved 14 July 2013.
  13. ^ Howey, Hugh. "Jet City Comics!". Hugh Howey. Retrieved 14 July 2013.
  14. ^ Deahl, Rachel. "Hugh Howey's 'Wool' Nabbed By 20th Century Fox". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 30 September 2012.
  15. ^ Sutter, John. "E-book author Hugh Howey claims 'six figure months' from Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing". ABC News. Archived from the original on 16 September 2012. Retrieved 30 September 2012.
  16. ^ Boog, Jason. "Hugh Howey's Wool Series Gets Book Trailer Treatment". GalleyCat. Retrieved 30 September 2012.
  17. ^ Otterson, Joe; Otterson, Joe (2018-07-30). "Hugh Howey's 'Wool' in Development as AMC Series From LaToya Morgan (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved 2018-12-17.

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