Masters of the Vortex
Series: Lensman 7
Reviewed date: 2009 Mar 30
Masters of the Vortex is set in the Lensman universe but is not part of the series. It is a the story of Neal "Storm" Cloud, vortex blaster. When out-of-control nuclear vortices threaten the galaxy, only Neal Cloud can extinguish them. He is a savant, and only his brain can solve the equations to predict in advance the precise waveform of the vortex; when he sees that the vortex will precisely match the yield of one of his bombs, he fires the bomb and extinguishes the vortex. No other human--or computer for that matter--can do what Storm Cloud does.
Masters of the Vortex is a fixup novel and it shows. It is episodic and not very good, really. It's confusing and if you don't pay really close attention, you'll miss major plot points. Part of that is Smith's penchant for leaving the reader in the dark about events that all the characters are in on. That's cheating and any good writer knows it, but it used to be tolerated.
Still, I love the book.