Josh's Reviews > Axis

Axis by Robert Charles Wilson
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's review
Aug 22, 2008

liked it
bookshelves: sci-fi
Read in April, 2008

Axis is entertaining and expands on Spin's novel idea, but seems incomplete. By the time it really starts to pickup and get interesting, it ends rather abrubtly. It doesn't exactly leave at a cliffhanger but it doesn't exactly answer all of my questions either. Good thing wikipedia shows a sequel in the works, Vortex, so I know we'll still have more to look forward to.

As always, Wilson writes good characters. The main character, Lise, actually seemed a tad underdeveloped, but her companion Turk was definitely interesting. One of my favorite aspects of Wilson's writing is that he always takes the time to focus on the characters and how they mould to the events that take place around them. His books always read like character dramas where the theme happens to be sci-fi. In my opinion, that is a trait of a good writer. Care about your characters first and make your reader care about them and the events and plot that surrounds them will seem more believable and engrossing. The characters here didn't quite have the depth that they did in Spin, but that could be becaue the book is shorter than Spin and focuses on more characters. Still, that's a definite strong point here.

I do wonder, however, whether we may have been better off waiting until this story was complete, with Axis and the next installment simply as one book, even it it were a lenghty read. I don't want to get into any spoilers, but the events that happened at the end of this book didn't quite seem... monumental enough to warrant writing an entire book about it. Wilson definitely shows us a new and bizarre aspect of the hypotheticals, but not much has really changed by knowing this. At least not yet. it felt like a pit-stop on the way to an even greater revelation that we've yet to know about. I'm sure that'll be revealed in Vortex, but who knows when that'll be out?

Also, seeing as how the book takes place entirely on Equatoria (the newly colonized world given to humans by the Hypotheticals), we don't really learn that much about the planet. It almost seems... boring really. A group of the characters lived in the desert on this planet, but the environment isn't described for any of the other characters with the exception of the major city, Port Magellan. Are there large plains areas or large forests or rivers or anything like that? Because of this, I pictured the entire planet to look like a large, mostly-empty desert. I'd also love to hear if there was any wildlife native to the planet that they'd discovered or if wildlife from Earth had been brought there and how they'd adapted. These little things aren't necessary to the story, but would help to make this new world believable and interesting.

Also, concepts of the story that seem important and pretty interesting are barely touched on at all. Like the arches. Not only is there an arch leading folk from Earth into Equatoria, but there's another arch on Equatoria that leads to yet another world and one from that world to another and so on. It's explained briefly that there are expeditions into the other world but it's just a barren rock. So there's not much there, but after several decades wouldn't they have found something? Doesn't anyone wonder why this barren planet was linked to theirs? These are things that I'd like to hear more about.

Another thing that bothered me was a character from Spin that makes an appearance. I won't say who, but this almost seemed cheap, like an added attempt to keep us interested in the story. The character makes a cameo at first and I liked that; just a nice reference to Spin to remind us that we're reading about the same world. But then the character becomes a major player and I didn't feel that the character was very distinguishable from many of the others in the book and I wasn't entirely convinced. Just one more thing that could've been expanded on to make the book fell more complete.

I did enjoy this book, for all I complained about it. The ashfall scenes were creepy and Wilson instills a sense of realism, even with something so strange as ash and decaying machinery dumping from the sky. He does a great job of making you feel like you are there. The ending of the book isn't bad. It's definitely interesting, but still I left wanting so much more. Granted, Spin is a hard act to follow and is also one of my favorite books of any genre, so maybe that's why I'm being so picky here. I'll still be buying Vortex as soon as it's out.
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Ubik I agree that the novel seems pretty anticlimactic and it also seems a little underdeveloped and rushed. Im really hoping that Vortex solves this problem as I really love RCW

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