Axis by Robert Charles Wilson

Vertigo

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Humanity has now expanded through the ‘Arch’ into the world prepared for them by the Hypotheticals. And are now rapidly setting out to make as much of a mess of that world as they have already done the Earth. Only one character from the first book is still present this time around but only as a supporting character. The Hypotheticals are still very much an enigma, but one small group are determined to attempt communication with them.

Axis is generally a very good book with big ideas that stand up well to those of its predecessor, but it also shares some of that book’s flaws. The characters felt rather wooden and cliched and the narrative often wanders off on irrelevant diversions. On one occasion, feeling the rather unnecessary need to explain a character’s understandably horrified reaction to a picture of a murder victim, we are indulged with several pages describing how this character found a dead body in the woods when he was a child. That passage served no purpose other than to justify a reaction that needed no justification. Such diversions are sadly quite common with long sections that serve no purpose other than to provide extra colour where none is really needed. This tends to make the book seem slower and more rambling than it needed to be, which is a shame as it distracts from the meat of the book which is well imagined and quite compelling.

If you like big ideas and interesting speculative science mixed with large doses of technology that go way off the scale of advanced technology looking more like magic and can live with some rather one-dimensional characters and a slightly rambling nature, then this is a great book. I really did enjoy it but just wish it had been tightened up some.

4/5 stars (just!)
 
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