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Connie Willis

December 9, 2009 Leave a comment

Two posts in one day…I know, I might be coming out of this fugue.   Maybe it’s the prospect of finally finishing my undergrad degree (two more weeks, baby!) .  At this rate, I’ll be back to writing about the semi-eponymous fellow soon enough- I have not lost the love, TPaw.  Put your heart at ease.

So Connie Willis.  Is Awesome.  She’s a science fiction writer, apparently one of the most successful in decades.  Wikipedia tells me she’s been wracking up Hugo awards like they’re those 6 inch plastic trophies I got playing Rec ball in 6th grade-  Thank You for Participating, Connie Willis.  Job well done.  Unlike me, however, she deserves them.    Somehow, I’d never heard of her until two days ago when I happened to pick up, To Say Nothing of the Dog.  It’s about…well, you can click to see what it’s about.  Oh, alright: chaos theory, Waterloo, time travel, Luftwaffe air raids, the quiesence of the moon as it yawns down on a dreaming meadow.  All with the funny of Jasper Fforde if he happened to exchange literary references for science and history ones.

Today, I sped through the first 150 pages of Bellwether.  The chaos theory is more explicit, the air raids are gone, Waterloo stays in the 19th century, fads are in, and the moon pops up, albeit a Plutonian one, as an odd bump on a scientific-readerwhatsit thingy.  Even though this particular novel didn’t win any Hugo’s, I actually like it a bit better.  Or equal.  They’re both great.

Something I like, besides the topics: the pace.  They’re incredibly quick reads, but the actual story pacing is deliberate.  Normally, I’m too impatient for slowly unraveling plots, but somehow Willis makes it fit.  In Bellwether, two scientists are trying to solve separate but related problems.  I’ll never be a scientist, but for a brief time, that pacing allowed me to feel like one; the trial and error, the systematism which is often supplanted by inspiration, and the frustration.  It’s all there along with writing which is really awfully good for someone whose books are stashed over by the Romance section- hey I love Sci-Fi and fantasy, but mostly, Dickens they are not.

Oh and they’re not political; not even remotely political.  And yet…she pokes fun at the anti-smoking craze and sides with individual initiative, largely, over blind forces.  There’s something cultural in there that works for me, though I can’t imagine it turning off any liberals.  Anyway, I recommend them if you have a few spare hours this holiday season- or sooner, definitely sooner.

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