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SFF Author: Robert Charles Wilson

Robert Charles Wilson(1953- )
Robert Charles Wilson lives in Toronto, Canada. His Darwinia was a Hugo finalist and won the Canadian national SF award for novel of the year; his latest novel, The Chronoliths, was a New York Times Notable Book.


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Five Questions for Robert Charles Wilson

Robert Charles Wilson’s new novel, The Affinities, comes out today. As I mentioned in my review of The Affinities, I was hooked from start to finish. At the end, I had a few questions for Wilson which he was willing to answer. So here are five questions and five answers for one of the 21st century’s best science fiction writers.

Ryan Skardal: Many of your works focus on watershed moments. These moments are often caused by mysterious forces from the future or outer space,


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A Bridge of Years: Time travel to 1962

A Bridge of Years by Robert Charles Wilson

Tom Winter tried to find solace in a bottle when his wife left him. He lost his job and concluded that 1989 was a pretty tough year. Now, Tom is trying to make a go of it in Belltower in the Pacific Northwest. His brother has set him up with a job as a car salesman, and he has bought a house. Life seems pretty mundane, until Tom realizes that the house is a time machine that leads to New York in 1962.

Published in 1991,


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Darwinia: Europe, suddenly terraformed

Darwinia by Robert Charles Wilson

In 1912, continental Europe suddenly changed into a foreign wilderness. Where there once were European nations arming for war, there are now new ecosystems and alien creatures. There is even a baffling, new evolutionary history. Christians declare “Darwinia” a miracle — what else could explain what’s happened but Biblical precedent? America, meanwhile, declares the continent open for exploration and settlement.

Guilford Law, originally from Boston, is an ambitious photographer who travels to England with his wife and daughter. He leaves them there before traveling alone with the Finch expedition.


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Bios: A rare miss from RCW

Bios: A Novel of Planetary Exploration by Robert Charles Wilson

Isis is not the M class planet we have been looking for, and upon landing the humans discover that it’s extraordinarily toxic to them. It’s not cheap traveling through space to distant planets, so the scientists will just have to do their best. This is the premise of Robert Charles Wilson’s Bios: A Novel of Planetary Exploration. The scientists initially try to solve this problem with nifty machines and suits, but eventually one of them tries to change people at a genetic level to make them fit the planet,


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The Perseids and Other Stories: Strange nights in Toronto

The Perseids and Other Stories by Robert Charles Wilson

I’m mostly a sceptic of both short stories and short story collections. When reading short science fiction, I can’t help thinking that if the premise were truly worthwhile, the author would have developed it into a novel — or at least a novella. I’m perhaps revealing my own limitations rather than my preferences. Still, I’ve found that the most common descriptions of short story collections are “mixed bag” or “some are duds.” And because every word counts so much more in shorts,


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The Chronoliths: Monoliths from the future

The Chronoliths by Robert Charles Wilson

Scott Warden, known to most as “Scotty,” kept his wife and daughter, Janice and Kaitlin, in Thailand after the coding contracts dried up. Scotty now spends most of his time aimlessly “just living” in the ex-pat beach culture. Scotty’s broke, but at least he doesn’t deal drugs like his buddy, Hitch Paley. Drug dealer he might be, but Scotty figures that Hitch is basically a good guy, deep down.

It’s Hitch that takes Scotty along the back roads to see the first Chronolith.

The Chronolith is impressive and mysterious.


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Blind Lake: Lockdown at an Interplanetary Observation Facility

Blind Lake by Robert Charles Wilson

Of course I know what to expect when reading one of Robert Charles Wilson’s novels: a strange technology or entity has a localized effect that snowballs until it has the potential to completely change the world. We follow the ride primarily from the point of view of one everyman character, but he just happens to know both the scientists and the politicians that are responding to the strange technology. 300 pages later, the story is finished.

But that’s not how Blind Lake works — or at least not exactly.


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Spin: Every science fiction novel condensed into one book

Spin by Robert Charles Wilson

With Spin, Robert Charles Wilson has condensed every science fiction novel into one book.

It’s quite an accomplishment, really, though the novel begins innocently enough. We’re in the near future with our narrator, Tyler Dupree, who is injected with a strange cure somewhere in Sumatra. The drug produces side effects, and one of them compels Tyler to tell his life’s story.

Tyler grew up in the little house “across the lawn.” His mother, Carol, cleaned the house of the Lawton family while Tyler played games with their children,


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Axis: Obsessed with the transcendent forces of the universe

Axis by Robert Charles Wilson

Earth has now been surrounded by the mysterious spin barrier that slows time relative to the rest of the universe for decades. Extra-terrestrial forces have also built the Arch that connects Earth to a series of unknown and increasingly environmentally hostile worlds. Humanity is now colonizing the first new world, but they still wonder about what beings — the Hypotheticals — could have created the spin barriers around these planets, not to mention the arches that connect them.

There are intergalactic forces at work in Axis,


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Vortex: Killer butterflies, interplanetary archipelagos, and a satisfying ending

Vortex by Robert Charles Wilson

Turk Findley has been returned to Equatoria ten thousand years after the Hypotheticals took him and Isaac. Things have changed. The Ring of Worlds that was connected by the Arches remains, but the societies that once traveled between these interplanetary portals have died away and been replaced. The Earth, sadly, is a wasteland. Its oceans are too acidic and its air is too poisonous to support life. Unfortunately, when the Hypotheticals connected Earth to other worlds, humanity began importing oil from Equatoria, which boosted the economy but destroyed our planet.


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Julian Comstock: A Story of 22nd-Century America

Julian Comstock: A Story of 22nd-Century America by Robert Charles Wilson

Robert Charles Wilson’s novel Julian Comstock is set in a vastly changed 22nd-century USA — after the end of the age of oil and atheism has resulted in disaster. Technology is mostly back to pre-20th century levels, and the population has been vastly reduced due to social upheaval and disease. Society has become fully class-based, divided into a Eupatridian aristocracy, middle-class lease-men, and indentured servants. The country — which now stretches across most of the North American continent — is involved in a lengthy and brutal war with the Dutch over control of the recently opened Northwest Passage.


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Burning Paradise: Strong stand-alone Sci Fi

Burning Paradise by Robert Charles Wilson

Members of the Correspondence Society have discovered an extra-terrestrial entity, which they refer to as the “Hypercolony,” in the atmosphere. The Hypercolony secretly monitors and subtly alters terrestrial transmissions in order to maintain peace on Earth. A few skirmishes aside, they have been successful, and humanity is once again celebrating the anniversary of the 1914 Armistice Day.

Earth may be a paradise, but it would be a mistake to consider the Hypercolony a benevolent entity. Its algorithms guide it to intervene in a way that will maximize its own chances for survival,


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The Affinities: What if online dating worked?

The Affinities by Robert Charles Wilson

Adam Fink was just another graphic art student in Toronto before he took InterAlia’a affinity test. The affinity test examines a person’s genes, brain patterns, and behavior and sorts people into one of twenty-two affinities (or into none of them). InterAlia has an algorithm that’s sort of like online dating, but it looks like they got it right this time.

The Affinities are still new when Adam takes the test. Not a lot is widely known about them, but there are twenty-two Affinity groups.


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Last Year: Time travel tourism

Last Year by Robert Charles Wilson

Jesse Cullum works security at the City of Futurity – in fact, he just saved President Ulysses S. Grant from an assassination attempt, though he lost his Oakleys in the process.

The science fiction premise of Robert Charles Wilson’s Last Year (2016), is outlined in its opening scene. Oakleys are sunglasses that come from our time, but Ulysses S. Grant was one of the most important generals in the American Civil War. How can both exist in the same place?


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Magic Time: Not aging well

Magic Time by Marc Scott Zicree & Barbara Hambly

Magic Time is the first book of a fantasy trilogy helmed by Marc Scott Zicree. This book is co-written with Barbara Hambly. Each of the subsequent books in the series is written with a different writer. Magic Time was published in 2001, and it is not aging well.

I had a difficult time getting through Magic Time. It narrowly missed achieving Did Not Finish status.


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The New Space Opera 2: All-New Tales of Science Fiction Adventure

The New Space Opera 2: All-New Tales of Science Fiction Adventure edited by Gardner Dozois & Jonathan Strahan

The New Space Opera 2: All-New Tales of Science Fiction Adventure is, as its name implies, the second of Gardner Dozois and Jonathan Strahan’s themed anthologies attempting to put a modern spin on space opera, a subgenre of science fiction which causes many of us to think of big metal spaceships crewed by handsome blaster-wielding men who protect us from evil aliens that want to destroy the Earth,


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Next SFF Author: Terri Windling
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