Vortex

Robert Charles Wilson. Tor, $25.99 (368p) ISBN 978-0-7653-2342-2
It's rare that the concluding volume of a trilogy can easily draw in newcomers unfamiliar with the back-story, but Hugo-winner Wilson does so without breaking a sweat in this traditional science-fiction thriller. In the not-too-distant future, the Sun nears its end as an enigmatic alien race, the Hypotheticals, becomes responsible for enabling humanity's survival. Psychiatrist Sandra Cole works at an intake facility in Houston, assessing the mental states of people taken into custody for evaluation. The drudgery of her job is disrupted when a police officer brings in a seemingly-placid man who writes down things he doesn't understand. His journals present the story of Turk Findley, who returned to the world after 10,000 years, finding himself in the midst of warfare between those who seek direct communication with the aliens, and those who regard such a course as suicidal. Cole's initial view that the writings are simply a pointless joke is shaken when oversight of Cole's case is transferred on a pretext, to another doctor. With relentless momentum Wilson's plot will propel readers along, and the subtle characterizations and sophisticated plotting elevate this to the top ranks of the genre. (July)
Reviewed on: 07/18/2011
Release date: 07/01/2011
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