The third (and presumably final) chapter in the Spin saga, by Robert Charles Wilson takes the form of Vortex. A worthy successor to the award-winning Spin, and equally fascinating Axis, Vortex wraps up the story of the Hypotheticals, and Earth’s fate from these seemingly unintelligible beings.
Unfortunately, Vortex doesn’t quite capture the same level of intrigue as the previous novels in the series. Though the ending is far-spanning, and reveals the ultimate answers, fans may not find them particularly rewarding. In fact, much of the back story feels grudgingly provided, as if the author only added it as an afterthought. This is not only unusual for Wilson, but disappointing.
Vortex takes place in many different locations, and follows three primary characters throughout the book (another huge change from the previous novels in the series). Turk Findley makes a return, and is most certainly the primary character. After being introduced in Axis, he’s become the central character to the series, or at least the final two-thirds. Axis also follows two other characters, of varying interest. Confusing is that the timeframes take place in two very different settings, jumping back and forth. Credit must be given to Wilson, however, for choosing the exact right moments to cut from one timeframe to the other; they are often done just at a moment of high suspense.
The story takes a slow and meandering path toward the end, and it’s only the last few pages that actually reveal the end-game of the saga. It’s really as though Wilson ran out of steam, and the series finishes with more of a whimper than a bang. The ultimate story is still fascinating, but doesn’t lead up to much of a climax, and may leave some readers disappointed.
Still, as a novel, Vortex is a fascinating read, and actually stands very well on its own, with readers not necessarily having to have read the previous entries in the series–quite an accomplishment on its own. Events in the novel keep the pages turning, and the characters are deep enough to be truly cared about, especially up until the very end.
Fans of the Spin saga should most certainly read this book to close out the series, and any fan of science fiction should not only read this book, but any of the works by Robert Charles Wilson.
– Reviewed by Bradley K. Brown