A mixed collection of short stories. Of particular note: "Fire Watch" is a classic; "All My Darling Daughters" is a very angry, painful piece; "Blued Moon" is very funny.
All Alis wants is to dance in the movies. But no-one is making movies, let alone musicals, with realpeople any more: it's all remakes with digitised actors. But Alis knows if you want something enough, you can get it, in the movies.
At 140 pages, this is closer to a novella than a novel. But there's a lot crammed into these few pages: a vivid depiction of a future Hollywood filled with decadent drugged-out people censoring alcohol and tobacco from old movies, and using computer graphics to remake those movies with different famous actors and different endings, interwoven with the references to the old movies themselves, all wrapped up itself as a movie plotline. Good stuff (it reminded me in some ways of John Varley's Steel Beach), if all too brief.
Sandra Foster is a sociologist trying to understand fads, Bennett O'Reilly is researching chaos theory. They both work for HiTek, a research corporation with a Dilbert-esque Management from Hell, where, due to an amazing series of blunders and coincidences, they end up working together.
This is a sheer delight, breathlessly paced, and wittily observant. Sandy is a fun, believable character: her obsession with fads, which she cannot stop herself seeing in every event around her, and the consequent hilarious view of modern life, are beautifully drawn. Her technique to stop her public library selling classic but unchecked-out books -- by constantly checking them out -- is one of the many wonderful subplots.
We get good gobs of chaos theory; the story is full of appeals to Nonlinearity, and Self-Organised Criticality (though not to Sensitive Dependence on Initial Conditions). The fads, the chaos theory, the sheep, and everything else, are all tied together nicely at the end. It's fairly obvious who or what the various causative factors are before they are finally exposed, but it's a wonderful romp getting there.
A collection of short stories, with a Christmas theme, ranging from sweet love stories, via horror, to fantasy/religious. The one that worked best for me is the title story "Miracle", where Willis displays the same love for old movies that she does in Remake.
The latest new communication technology is here: the EDD. No more cumbersome telling your partner I love you. Now they’ll be able to feel it for themselves, and it’s just one simple operation away. So Briddey and Trent are going to do it. They’re in love, in the midst of a whirlwind of flowers, long weekends and romantic dinners, and everything is perfect.
This is it.
After all, it’s a closer connection to the man she loves. What could possibly go wrong…?
Connie Willis just gets better and better. To Say Nothing of the Dog is set in the same Oxford time-travelling historian universe as "Fire Watch" and Doomsday Book, with a much lighter touch, although the same passion for history, and a dollop of chaos theory.
-- Nully Fydyan, rec.arts.sf.written, July 2001
Ned Henry and Verity Kindle are two of the historians slaving on Lady Schrapnell's Coventry Cathedral restoration project. Ned has been travelling back to Coventry in 1940, trying to locate the Bishop's Bird Stump; Verity is in 1888 trying to find Lady Schrapnell's greatn-grandmother's diaries. But there are strange slippages and anomalies occurring, and Ned ends up back in Victorian England himself, with insufficient preparation for a very important mission to save the continuum, and something he can't quite remember. To say nothing of the dog.
"The rules of the game are perfectly simple. You score points by hitting your ball through a course of six wickets twice, the four outside hoops, the centre hoops, then back again in the opposite direction. Each turn is one stroke. If your ball goes through the wicket you get a continuation stroke. If your ball hits another ball, you get a croquet stroke and a continuation stroke, but if you ball goes through two hoops in one stroke, you only get one stroke. After you hit a ball, you can't hit it again till you've gone through your next hoop, except for the first hoop. If you hit a ball you've hit, you lose your turn. Those are the boundaries," she said, pointing with her mallet, "North, South, East, and West. That's the yard line, and that's the baulk line. Is that all clear?"
"Perfectly," I said. "Which colour am I?"
The book is structured as a classic detective novel with a complex time-travelling plot, chock full of clues, red herrings, and meta-clues amidst all the glorious detail. It's full of references to the detective genre, and it helps if you're a fan of Three Men in a Boat, Agatha Christie, and especially the Wimsey/Vane detective novels of Dorothy L. Sayers. Unlike the latter, however, most of the Latin here is provided with a translation. It is brilliantly witty, cunningly plotted, full of wonderful observations of Victorian life, hysterically funny in places, chock full of delicious detail, poignant during the Cathedral bombing scenes, and just a damned good read.