I love this book to death! It's marketed as science fiction -- mainly because Connie Willis is a science-fiction author -- but I don't think it really is. It's a novel about science and scientists. It's also a wacky, screwball romantic comedy. It's a great deal of fun! Lighthearted and funny, but it also deals with some deeper issues -- specifically, the nature of scientific discovery. It was a joy to read.
An interesting story focused around finding the bellwether of the fads. I particularly liked all the pieces about past fads, what was believed to contribute to them and what replaced them. It tied in really well with the book The Tipping Point which also discusses fads and what moves them from a small incident to a full fledged fad. The story didn't have much of a plot and was more of a vehicle to explain how a bellwether works. Having lived in Montana and around Boulder, I could appreciate the location and the references.
Delightful, fun, and even insightful. This is a shorter Willis read which demonstrates her diversity (sometimes I wonder how she can be categorized as a sci fi writer when so much of her stories are really anything but), and her ability to engage the reader in entertainment and contemplation at once. Her talent as a storyteller and character creator, and the considerable research that weaves seamlessly into her stories is evident here. Highly recommended.
I read this book in one night, loved it. This was my third Connie Willis book and I was prepared for something bad to happen at the end. The previous two books I had read contained endings with unexpected (for me, at least) deaths. However, I was pleasantly surprised this time around. I don't want to give away any spoilers ... but I was so, so happy with the ending.
I really liked the main character. Laughed out loud at quite a few bits. I also learned a lot from this book. Not only was it great fiction, but now I feel like I can at least pretend to be a chaos theorist!
Would definitely recommend this book to others.
It is hard to categorize but the fads are interesting. It was a fun read.
Maybe this SF--but it's also a lot of other things, all of them good. Connie Willis has won more Hugo and Nebula awards than any other SF author, and I have no idea why she doesn't seem to be better known than she is . . .
"Sandra Foster studies fads - from Barbie dolls to the grunge look - how they start and what they mean. Bennett O'Reilly is a chaos theorist studying monkey group behavior. They both work for the HiTek corporation, strangers until a misdelievered package brings them together. It's a moment of synchronicity - if not serendipity - which leads them into a chaotic system of their own, complete with a million-dollar research grant, caffe latte, tattoos, and a series of unlucky coincidences that leaves Bennett monkeyless, fundless, and nearly jobless. Sandra intercedes with a flock of sheep and an idea for a joint project. (After all, what better animals to study both chaos theory and the herd mentality that so often characterizes human behavior?) But scientific discovery is rarely straightforward and never simple, and Sandra and Bennett have to endure a series of setbacks, heartbreaks, dead ends, and disasters before they find their ultimate answer..."
Great Connie Willis--part science fiction, part contemporary satire with a touch of romance. The information on historic fads is fascinating and her take on mid-90s fads resonate 10 years later.
Around page 70 I started to wonder if this book was going anywhere. Which isn't to say it wasn't enjoyable reading. I typically find Willis' writing to be a bit repetitive but this book also didn't seem to have a point. After finishing the book I can better see the context of the earlier chapters though I do feel like this was really the first half of what could have been a really exciting story.
Still I enjoyed this little novel. It's light, easy reading with a bit of a twist near the end. Recommended for reading on the bus or at the beach.
A sheer pleasure to read. Connie Willis is one of science fiction's best writers.
Wow! I couldn't put this one down. Smart, intelligent, sharp, with biting humor that is so right on the money every time that you want to tell someone how good it is, but you just can't explain it. Don't miss this one.
Connie Willis is a Hugo and Nebula Award winning author. She was won more awards than any other science fiction author. Now, with all the wit and inventiveness that have made her one of the most beloved writers in the field, she explores the intimate relationship between science, pop culture, and the arcane secrets of the heart.
In other words, a scientific, cyber-punkish future that demonstrates the chaos theory in group behavior. All that wordiness aside, it's a good, solid read.
A very different take on marketing and trends than the one presented in William Gibsons Pattern Recognition! Still, this book has some similarities: theyre both non-sci-fi novels by authors known for their science fiction, and they both deal, thematically, with the human tendency toward fads. However, where Gibsons character Cayce has an almost psychic attunement to these trends, Willis narrator is a much less glamorous, stressed-out researcher whos trying to understand how and why trends happen by attempting to track down the source of past fads. Plagued by the uniquely-fashionable but totally incompetent assistant, Flip (who is nearly the exact same character as Bubbles in Absolutely Fabulous [at least, I kept seeing her]), her work takes her through the maze of academic research institutions, bureaucratic red tape and illogical management, a mysteriously attractive scientist who seems to be immune to trends to say nothing of the flock of sheep! ;-)
I didnt think this book was quite as good as either of the other Willis books Ive read, but it was still definitely a fun and witty read.
Willis' books, all of which are excellent, are either horribly bleak tragedies or madcap romances. I like the madcap romances best, and this is one of the best of those. Cloche hats! Sheep! Grantwriting! This book is guaranteed to put a smile on your face. Four stars.
alot of fun. One of her books that is more towards Brain Candy rather than one of her more meaningful ones
One of the best authors writing today.
My book group had read this book before I joined and a few had thought it was a little weird. The author has won more Hugo and Nebula awards than any other science fiction author. I'm not much of a science fiction fan but .... I loved this book! I hope you enjoy it too.
This was very good! Quick, and cute, and kinda made me miss the world of academia a bit, in spite of all the silly meetings and paperwork!
Connie Willis is such a gifted writer. You really get a feel for how much research she does, even for her shorter novels. Her characters are fully and completely alive within their environments, with no nuance or detail missing -- everything about them is in place. I feel like I should be able to email the main characters, or find articles they've written in scientific journals somewhere because they just seemed so much like real people. Yet the story isn't slowed down by this at all, unlike many books that just end up getting bogged down when they include a lot of detail.
I would definitely recommend this book! And what do you know? The cover actually works with the story! Even the fiery butterfly! I was wondering what a bellwether was, and know I know. But don't worry -- I won't tell!
Thumbs up! Very interesting concept.
Sandra Foster studies fads - from Barbie dolls to the grunge look - how they start and what they mean. Bennett O'Reilly is a chaos theorist studying monkey group behavior. They both work for the HiTek corporation, strangers until a misdelievered package brings them together. It's a moment of synchronicity - if not serendipity - which leads them into a chaotic system of their own, complete with a million-dollar research grant, caffe latte, tattoos, and a series of unlucky coincidences that leaves Bennett monkeyless, fundless, and nearly jobless. Sandra intercedes with a flock of sheep and an idea for a joint project. (Afterall, what better animals to study both chaos theory and the herd mentality that so often characterizes human behavior?) But scientific discovery is rarely straightforward and never simple, and Sandra and Bennett have to endure a series of setbacks, heartbreaks, dead ends, and disasters before they find their ultimate answer...