Vortex tells the story of Turk Findley, the protagonist introduced in Axis, who is transported 10,000 years into the future by the mysterious entities called “the Hypotheticals”. In this future, humanity exists on a chain of planets connected by Hypothetical gateways; but Earth itself is a dying world, effectively quarantined. Turk and his young friend, Isaac Dvali, are taken up by a community of fanatics who use them to enable a passage to the dying Earth, where they believe a prophecy of human/Hypothetical contact will be fulfilled. The prophecy is only partly true, however, and Turk must unravel the truth about the nature and purpose of the Hypotheticals before they carry him on a journey through warped time to the end of the universe itself.
©2011 Robert Charles Wilson (P)2011 Macmillan Audio
A very busy dad and IT manager from Athens, GA. I have a long commute, and I listen to tons of audiobooks in the car and around the house.
When I first listened to Spin, the first book in this trilogy, I thought I might very well be onto the best scifi experience of my life. A few years later, this concluding volume has left me a bit unsatisfied. The core mystery that underlies all three volumes, and is so captivating in Spin, gets "solved" in an almost off-handed way at the end of Vortex. And the solution won't exactly makes you shiver with delight. Or even interest.
But here's the thing: the books are so well-written that it almost doesn't matter. The stories themselves are engaging, the characters are generally worth investing in, the prose is weighty and never silly. (Silly is a concern for me when it comes to time-bending science fiction.) And the narration is, well, Scott Brick. You know exactly what you'll get before you start listening, and it'll be good.
So I'm giving it a decent rating and a big warning: if the middle book felt like a miss to you, this one probably will too. But if you enjoyed it anyway, this is worth a listen. Maybe you can make up a better ending for yourself after it's all done.
Spin was awesome. Axis was passable for a second book; I was not impressed. Vortex, however, was absolutely riveting. a wonderful conclusion to the trilogy.
From my reading history my perfect book would include; a space ship piloted by Ender Wiggin, that is infested by Zombies, who are being hunted by Drizzt Do'Urden and Lestat, while Joe Ledger and Amy Harper Bellafonte try to keep the ship from distroying Middleguard. The Sequal would be from Bean's perspective, with an epilogue by Malcolm Gladwell.
If you were turned off by Axis don't worry this is better. Spend the credit and find out how it all ends.
Three books: Spin, Axis and Vortex.
If Spin is viewed as a standalone novel, the Hypotheticals (aka the aliens) are a vast Mystery, so vast and complex that mere mortal humans cannot even conceive of what they are.
In Axis/Vortex - especially by the end of Vortex - the Hypos are pretty much explained.
This works, certainly. Vortex is a very good read. RCW delivers once again with good character development (yay!) and a clear, taut narrative. He gets around the problem of creating believeable characters 10,000 years into the future in a clever way. The Big Concept approach of Spin is continued, with a lovely balance struck between the "human interest" element (characters we can relate to and care about) and the sci-fi stuff. Both elements are well described and compelling. The ending is satisfying and not only beautifully written (one gets the sense that a LOT of care went into this) but also moving.
Still, there is something about the Hypotheticals being so far beyond us that they are intrinsically, utterly Unknowable (as they were in Spin) that really appeals to me, so I prefer to think of Axis/Vortex as a POSSIBLE ending to the saga, rather than THE ending.
Slow and boring. I finished part 1 of 2 and I think I can't finish it. Once again to much environmental lecture most of the time at today in good old earth and too little science fiction in foreign worlds with foreign technology.
Spin was one of my favorite audiobook experiences. I was disappointed in the second book and almost didn't download Vortex. I'm really glad I gave it a chance. The story is not as unique as Spin (how could it be?), but the story is very enjoyable, narration incredible, and I found the book to have a very satisfying ending for the series.
Vortex has the main element of a satisfying ending to a quite respectable trilogy series. At the very end, RCW finally reveals the true nature of the hypotheticals and goes beyond even their quantum leap of control over time and space. The only ding to this otherwise excellent series is that this final denouement is brought in with the sense that the author was tiring of sustaining the plot. It's as if he reached a stopping point and decided to "wrap it all up" and move on.
Most of the book jumps between what appears to be 2 plots separated by 10,000 years with two characters having different connections to both. The near future earth of the post-Spin era has a "Bladerunner" feel with a future with all the bad stuff amplified. The 10k+ storyline suggests a resolution to the mystery of the hypotheticals, but the almost religious like fervor of the Vox populace belies the eventual turn of events for the worse.
At its heart, Vortex exhibits a nihilist perspective on the universe. Activity merely serves to ensure continued activity without goals or purpose beyond its own sustainment. Finally, beyond our own universe lies the limitless potential for alternate universes where a minor change can be initiated merely to impact a single life regardless of the billions of lives that will experience a repetition of the same horrors over and over again.
I have not listened to the previous two books the other reviewers talked about and I did not need to, but after listening to this book, I most certainly will. The narrator is incredible as always, and the book is so well written its a pleasurable and engaging visit that will keep you spell bound to the end.
I focus on fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, science, history, politics and read a lot. I try to review everything I read.
I liked Spin quite a bit, and Axis somewhat less so. I was prepared for Vortex to follow the common downward spiral of most sequels. I was pleasantly surprised to find Vortex was significantly better than Spin. The characterization was deeper and more touching, the story more compelling, and the ideas more thought provoking. I am a real stickler for good science and as wild as the story becomes it remains grounded in (equally wild) current theories of cosmology. This is not a feel-good romp, the story is dark, thoughtful and intense. The conclusion may not satisfy every reader, but it was consistent, unexpected, and interesting. The twists were inventive and fascinating. The Spin was good, but I suspect I will be thinking about Vortex for some time to come.
NV, not NY
I'm actually pretty torn on whether or not to give this five stars. I think with every series, no matter the author, the progressive books never seem as good as the earlier ones. This is probably because the freahness of the idea behind the books tends to wears off. However, I would have to give the complete 3 book series five stars.
It's amazing the way this story comes together in the end, especially the last paragraph (I'm imagining it's the last paragraph since this is audio). I guarantee you won't see it coming.
The bottom line is: if you've read the first two books, you can't not read this one. If you haven't read the first two, what are you waiting for?
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