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Connie Willis
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message 1: by Jo (new)

Jo | 1092 comments I'm just reading Bellwether and on the cover it says Connie Willis has won more Hugo and Nebula awards than any other science fiction author which surprised me (this may not still be true today). I have only read Doomsday Book which I enjoyed but I really don't know much about her work. Bellwether has some odd characters which may or may not annoy by the end but it's a different style from Doomsday books so i'm not sure what are the characteristics of her work. Anybody have any comments or recommendation on her other books?


message 2: by Buck (last edited Apr 22, 2015 04:44PM) (new)

Buck (spectru) | 896 comments Jo wrote: "I'm just reading Bellwether and on the cover it says Connie Willis has won more Hugo and Nebula awards than any other science fiction author which surprised me (this may not still be t..."

Bellwether was the first Connie Willis book I read. I only vaguely remember it. Seems like it had something to do with sheep and office bureaucracy. I've read her double novel Blackout/All Clear. They are enjoyable books, but I get tired of her chatty style. I have Doomsday Book on my list.


message 3: by David (new)

David Merrill | 240 comments Doomsday Book is definitely worth reading. So is her first, Lincoln's Dreams. Personally, I don't like her later work. She gets really long winded and no one edits her any more, near as I can tell. I tried reading Black Out/ All Clear, but I feel she could have lost about 400 pages without missing it. I was yelling at the book to the point where, by page 70, I wanted to get the Ebook and start editing it myself as I read. I opted for putting it down instead. A lot less stressful that way.


message 4: by Jo (new)

Jo | 1092 comments I really enjoyed Doomsday Book but Bellwether less so. I understand now what Buck means about her chatty style and so i'm less motivated to read more now - although I did buy The Winds of Marble Arch when it was on offer so I will have to read it at some point.


message 5: by Valyssia (last edited May 26, 2015 05:22PM) (new)

Valyssia Leigh I think a big part of it is that you have to enjoy her sense of humor. I thought Bellwether was very amusing. What I have trouble seeing is why it's considered sci-fi. And 'yes,' I know that the obnoxious girl with the duct tape sense of style influences a group of humans like a herd of sheep, but that seems pretty normal to me. Isn't that just how the fashion industry works? The major magazines, TV shows, movies and what-not all present actors/models displaying the waistband of their BVDs above the waistband of Levis that are so baggy the crotch of the jeans is almost to their knees and suddenly 'presto' every young man in America needs to be so impaired by his clothing that the thought of running is laughable. (Gotta love a little role reversal.) The concept is the same. One person sees another person that they regard as superior for whatever reason (social class) dressed a certain way and they emulate it. They don't necessarily see all two hundred of the models or actors or even one. They might simply be copying the style of 'Flip' down the street, because he/she has 'style'...and welcome to the herd.

I would call Connie Willis' style 'conversational.' It is very relaxed, and that's what makes it good.

The Winds of Marble Arch is a romance piece with a bit of creepy tossed in. I'm not sure how you'll do with it, Jo. At least if you find it a slog, it'll be a short one. The piece is about two hours long in audio.

If you guys are up for a good, solid piece of speculative fiction, The Last of the Winnebagos is an excellent choice. It isn't at all playful. It doesn't meander. It just says what it has to say and lets the reader go. Its message is unusual too. I don't believe I've seen another story quite like it.


message 6: by Jo (new)

Jo | 1092 comments Valyssia wrote: "I think a big part of it is that you have to enjoy her sense of humor. I thought Bellwether was very amusing. What I have trouble seeing is why it's considered sci-fi. And 'yes,' I know that the ob..."

You're right about enjoying her sense of humour, there were bits that made me smile but some parts just didn't make sense to me. The classification of Sci-fi is a strange one but I find that with a lot of books. I guess in this case, book about scientists doing 'science things' = Sci-fi. Strange really as I would think this reduces the sales and people who don't like Sci-fi could enjoy this book.

Checking my kindle I see I bought The Winds of Marble Arch and other stories which also contains The Last of the Winnebagos, i'm pleased as it sounds like something I'd enjoy. As to The Winds of Marble Arch if it's romance I'll try to keep an open mind but not normally my first choice of genre.


message 7: by Valyssia (new)

Valyssia Leigh Jo wrote: "Valyssia wrote: "As to The Winds of Marble Arch if it's romance I'll try to keep an open mind but not normally my first choice of genre."

After I posted that it occurred to me that I'd skipped over an important detail. Connie Willis tends to chew over the same issues. That's the one thing I'd change about her work if I could. She needs to get new material. The Winds of Marble Arch is an excellent example of this. The prose is beautiful. It's the sort of thing that just flows off of the tongue, which is part of what I meant when I used the term 'conversational.' It has a lyrical quality that feels polished, yet it's also so casual it feels conversational.

Tripping over words. Stops.

The Winds of Marble Arch is about her two favorite subjects: the Londoner's experience of World War 2 and death. But it's constructed around this lovely account of a couple who's been married for years and has grown apart finding a common understanding and being drawn back together by it. That's the romance element. It isn't the usual.


message 8: by Buck (new)

Buck (spectru) | 896 comments I read doomsday book a couple weeks ago. It's good. Here is my review:
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

I still have To Say Nothing of the Dog on my long term list. It's in the same Oxford time traveling historians group as Doomsday Book and Blackout/All clear, I think. I read Three Men in a Boat (which inspired its title) in anticipation of reading To Say Nothing of the Dog. I can see why Willis would like Three Men in a Boat. Ho hum. I'll probably get around to reading To Say Nothing of the Dog one of these days, but I'm in no hurry. It's probably delightful.


message 9: by Jo (new)

Jo | 1092 comments I'm finally getting round to reading The Winds of Marble Arch and Other Stories and I have to say i'm pleasantly surprised so far. Willis does have a specific style but it's not so overpowering in short stories. I've really enjoyed the first two stories - The Winds of Marble arch and Blue Moon. The third, Just like we used to know is slightly less interesting at present but more the subject than the writing.


message 10: by Buck (new)

Buck (spectru) | 896 comments Jo wrote: "I'm finally getting round to reading The Winds of Marble Arch and Other Stories and I have to say i'm pleasantly surprised so far. Willis does have a specific style but it's not so overpowering in short stories...."

I've read a few of Willis's books. You are absolutely right about her style being specific - very recognizable. It's really pronounced in Bellwether and not so bad in The Doomsday Book. It's not that it's objectionable, really, but in large doses I find it somewhat irritating. To Say Nothing of the Dog is still on my list but I haven't been in a hurry to get to it.

So, you recommend her short stories?


message 11: by Ed (new)

Ed Erwin | 1900 comments Mod
I agree she has a very recognizable style. But still there is variation in the types of stories. I loved Bellwether and found it very funny. Read it twice, separated by 15 years. I couldn't get into To Say Nothing of the Dog, the humor there didn't really work for me, perhaps because I'm not familiar with the inspiration: Three Men in a Boat. Although it is in the same "series" as Doomsday Book, it is very much different in tone.

Her short stories can be just as good as her novels, so I'm sure there are some you'd like.


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