This short novel (really a novella) displays Willis' usual wit and facility with language, making it enjoyable to read no matter what the topic. Unfortunately (for me), the topic here is classic song-and-dance musical films (think Fred Astaire). I really quite strongly dislike such films, probably more than any other genre I can think of. And a good portion of this book is a pure nostalgia-fest - which, if were for something else, might have convinced me, but, as it was, didn't. (It would be a hopeless cause, no matter what.)
Still, I did enjoy the sci-fi elements of the story: in the (near?) future, actors are all computer-generated: images 'licensed' from the classics, or 'scans' of existing people, who don't actually have to act (or dance, etc). An angst-ridden film buff, who's currently working bowdlerizing old films by censoring them (cutting out all reference to 'Addictive Substances,' all the while drinking to excess and doing drugs himself), meets a naive young woman who desperately wants to be an actual performer in musicals...
Not bad, but my least favorite of Willis' that I've read thus far.
At 140 pages, this thin book is a VERY quick read - more like a short story than a novel. Movie and musical fans, take note - if that's your thing, you'll be in heaven; if not, it's just part of the story. The key is not to get too bogged down in the futuristic, made-up slang Willis uses throughout. Don't even worry about the details. Really. The clues are so in-your-face that missing them would be like trying not to trip over a mountain.
Although there is a theme of time travel here, this is NOT connected with Willis' other books on that theme ("To Say Nothing of the Dog" or "Firewatch", for ex). This is a more like "Bellwether" and the way she uses movies here is fabulous, much like the encyclopedic usage of fad information in that book. Short, but memorable...a must for Willis completists or cinema fans!