Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Best of Connie Willis (Short Fiction)

I love reading anything Connie Willis writes. Her writing has just the right mix of quirkiness, science fiction, and humanity. I especially find myself thinking about Blackout/All Clear from time to time. Since I have read all the novels by Connie Willis that our well-stocked library system owns, I was delighted when I recently found The Best of Connie Willis, which was released last year. Some of the stories center on themes or characters that are in her novels, a treat for fans. Some of the stories are haunting. Some are wonderfully amusing. All of them are Hugo or Nebula winners. The Best of Connie Willis reminds me of what a wonderful storyteller Willis is.

Both of my favorite stories from the book are on the amusing side. “At the Rialto” is a fun story about quantum physics and a participant at a science conference. Perhaps this is one of those stories that only those of us who are nerds could love. “All Seated on the Ground” combines first contact with aliens and Christmas carols. Does it get any better than that? It brought back fond memories of singing in church and school choirs. I can’t write about the book without mentioning “Inside Job,” because it does such a neat job of answering a paradoxical question, which I can’t write about without giving away the plot.

I didn’t spend a lot of time dissecting the various stories. That would have taken away from the enjoyment for me. But, because the stories are award winners and because I respect Willis’ craftsmanship, I occasionally looked at the stories from an aspiring writer’s viewpoint. Even those brief glimpses expanded my thinking.

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