|Bellwether – Connie Willis|
Connie Willis’s short novel Bellwether is a wonderfully intelligent romantic comedy.
Researchers Dr Sandra Foster and Dr Bennett O’Reilly, with specialties in fad/trend analysis and chaos theory respectively find themselves thrown together in the chaotic and fad driven HiTek Corporation. They are your classic fish out of water. Add to this melting pot an infuriating admin assistant (sorry, interdepartmental communications liaison), a 60+ page simplified grant funding application form and a flock of sheep and you have ample fodder for comedic moments.
Willis has written this story so ingeniously. Each chapter begins with an often tongue in cheek description of a fad – what exactly it was, how it came about, how long it lasted and why it diminished. Think hula hoops, rubix cube, quality circles, hot pants, etc.
Another interesting feature in the writing is the way Willis dehumanised ‘management’.
“Now let’s get busy. You’ve got divergent thinking to do. Let’s see some significant scientific breakthroughs.”
Management marched out, his baton under his arm…
Even though, or perhaps because I myself work in management in a corporate environment, I found the observations hilarious – a similar bent to the much loved Dilbert cartoons.
The humour crafted by Willis is so dry and witty, with references to literature and her subterfuge against her library’s book culling policy throughout the novel that I thoroughly enjoyed. It might not be to everyone’s taste, but it was pitch perfect for me.
“You can change the world,” Browning was clearly saying. “By being perky and signalling before turning left, one person can have a positive effect on society,” and it was obvious from “The Pied Piper” that he understood how trends worked.
Bellwether written by this very talented author is a quick and fun read that I would highly recommend – I read it in one sitting. I learnt things from the experience too, which is always nice.
BOOK RATING: The Writing 5 / 5 ; The Story 4 / 5
Genre: Drama, Romance, Humour, Science Fiction, Literature