Review: Vortex

Posted: August 1, 2011 by in Books We Love (5/5 single_star) Meta: Robert Charles Wilson, Science Fiction

VORTEX (Amazon) is the latest novel by author Robert Charles Wilson. I’ve been a rabid fan of Wilson’s ever since his Hugo-winning SPIN (Amazon). After that novel I went out and read four or five of his previous novels and I’ve read everything he’s written since. He doesn’t always hit it out of the park, like he did in SPIN, but he never fails to be entertaining.

I can happily report that Vortex is awesome. It’s not quite as good as SPIN, but it’s one of Wilson’s better books. There are two story lines going on in VORTEX. The first is that of Sandra Cole, a psychiatrist who is given the task of evaluating young Orin Mather. Orin is carrying around a journal, several journals telling the tale of…

Turk Findley a man taken by the hypotheticals — if you’ve read SPIN or AXIS (Amazon) you’ll know who/what the hypotheticals are — and now reborn ten thousand years in the future and living in a very different, very Science Fiction world.

There are other characters who appear in Sandra’s story, and others that speak in the journals of young Orin. The two tales alternate back and forth throughout the book coming to conclusions that tie the two together.

Honestly I wish I had not read AXIS (the second book in Wilson’s loose Spin trilogy) before I had read this one. It would have been far more interesting reading about Orin, and his journals, and wondering about the story told there. Is Orin making it all up? Is Turk’s story real, and if so, how is that possible? All of that would have been much more enjoyable. But I already knew the answer to it from reading AXIS.

VORTEX was the type of book where if I had a spare ten seconds (literally I would open the book and read even just a paragraph if I could), I would read.

Did it ruin the book? Heck no! Wilson is a great writer. I read JULIAN COMSTOCK (EBR Review), Wilson’s last novel before VORTEX, and wasn’t excited about the premise at all and it still managed to be a great book, based on Wilson’s ability to write great ideas with wonderful, believable characters. VORTEX is great. At the end of each chapter I wanted to keep reading about Turk and his adventures only to read more about Sandra and Orin. Then at the end of a Sandra chapter, I would be totally sucked in wanting to know what happened to her.

I didn’t only read this book, I devoured it. This was the type of book where if I had a spare ten seconds (literally I would open the book and read even just a paragraph if I could), I would read. I read it fast and I loved it. You should read this book. Read SPIN first (cause it’s awesome), and then read this one. You should read AXIS too. Heck just pick up some Robert Charles Wilson and enjoy.

  • Recommended Age: 14+ Nothing really wrong here, a scattering of language, I just think under 14 won’t appreciate it.
  • Language: A few words thrown in. Not a lot, but enough that I remembered there being some.
  • Violence: A few scenes. Nothing graphic.
  • Sex: There are characters who have sex, but I don’t think it was described at all, more alluded to


  • litg says:

    I found Axis to be a disappointment after loving Spin. Was this closer in quality to Spin, then?

    • spike the surf dog says:

      I found it right in the middle of the two. Spin was phenomenally good. Mind shatteringly good. I just reread Axis before reading Vortex and found that Axis was a good solid novel that seems weak from the comparison to Spin. Still, I think Vortex was better than Axis.

  • guessingo says:

    Look you I really liked Spin and did not like Axis. I have mixed feelings on Vortex. I like the two plot lines. I did not think the ending was all that interesting. I think Vortex missed out on what made Spin so good.

    What was great about Spin to me is that it was more than just a science fiction book. It was epic because it followed 3 people through virtually their whole lives while this event was going on. It spent a lot of time discussing how society was affected by the Spin. Vortex did not feel epic. I found the idea of a networked democracy very creative, but the book was narrowly focused. It was a solid science fiction book and a good read, but does not compare to the epic feel of Spin. Spin is the first science fiction book, I have read that made me think of epic novels that span a life time.

    I would really like to see more Science Fiction and Fantasy novels do what Spin did.(I read Daniel Abraham's book). I think books like Spin can appeal across genres to people who don't want something too Science Fiction. They want something about people.

  • guessingo says:

    sorry about the typos. wish I could edit.

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