Tuesday, November 22, 2016

What we're reading: Crossover sci fi

I was so happy to see that there was a new book available by that much-awarded science fiction writer, Connie Willis! (more Hugo and Nebula Awards than any other writer)

Crosstalk, a "cross" between romantic comedy and social satire, is a departure from her time travel books, although it shares the quality of a French farce with one of my favorites from that group, To Say Nothing of the Dog, in that the sheer quantity of crossed purposes and missed opportunities vastly complicate a situation already fraught with major pitfalls.

In the not-too-distant future, a doctor has come up with a "simple outpatient procedure" (yes, it's brain surgery, but don't worry) to increase empathy between romantic partners. After a six-week whirlwind romance with Trent Worth (one of her co-workers at the mobile phone company that employs them to stay one step ahead of their competitor, Apple), Briddey Flannigan is pleased when her boyfriend suggests they undergo the EED procedure together. She is anticipating that a closer emotional connection and enhanced understanding will be the result.

Complicating these plans are her large, needy, and completely boundary-less family members, most of whom disapprove of her intention to get the EED (and some of whom disapprove of Trent as well), and her co-worker, C.B. Schwartz, who is amazingly technophobic for a guy who works for a competitor of Apple, and is worried that Briddey's EED will cause UICs (unintended consequences). Despite all their advice, 
Briddey takes the step and makes a connection--but it's with someone else, and it's definitely not what she expected. Willis takes on our over-connected world of TMI (too much information) and multiplies its perils exponentially in this crazy comedy of errors.

This book was so much fun. Although Willis was a
little self-indulgent with what a reviewer on Goodreads called "a superfluity of interrupted communications" (what a perfect phrase), the concept, the characters, the internal dialogue, and the situations were all fabulously witty, and before the (somewhat) anticipated ending, the plot follows several unexpectedly delightful red herrings.

In a weird way, this book reminded me of Rainbow Rowell's first book, Attachments: Both have a technology connection; in both, some people are aware of what other people are saying without those people's knowledge; and there's the unlikely romance....

Regardless, all hail the great Connie Willis, and read the book! It's perfect escapism for a long holiday weekend....

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