Review of Bellwether by Connie Willis

September 11, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

BellwetherBellwether
By Connie Willis; Narrated by Kate Reading
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Publication Date: February 2009
[UNABRIDGED] – 6 hours, 30 minutes

Themes: / pop culture / scientific discovery / chaos theory / Robert Browning / office assistants / fads /

Publisher summary:

Sandra Foster studies fads and their meanings for the HiTek corporation. Bennett O’Reilly works with monkey group behavior and chaos theory for the same company. When the two are thrust together due to a misdelivered package and a run of seemingly bad luck, they find a joint project in a flock of sheep. But a series of setbacks and disappointments arise before they are able to find answers to their questions – with the unintended help of the errant, forgetful, and careless office assistant Flip.

This is my favorite Connie Willis book, hands down. She blends pop culture, scientific discovery, chaos theory, Robert Browning, fads and an infuriating office assistant to produce a book where thinking for oneself gets you blank looks of incomprehension. Willis’s books come in two flavors, either funny or grim (as she herself describes her serious works). This is definitely one of the funny ones.

This was written in 1996 so it is interesting to see that certain fads have evolved and that some have floated away. (It’s been a long time since I thought about Pet Rocks or mood rings, for example.) Listening to the audiobook, I realized that it gave me a real sense of perspective on a lot of things that drive me crazy by reminding me that these are simply the most current fads (Paleo / gluten-free diets, smart phones, SnapChat, etc.). ┬áThese too shall pass although the chaos will probably remain. And I’m actually okay with that.

Kate Reading’s narration really brought the book alive. I especially enjoyed her characterizations of Flip, Management, and Shirl, all of which added extra fillips of humor to the story. Having read the book several times before listening, I was impressed how well she captured the main character that I “heard” mentally. I will definitely be listening to this the next time I need a dose of anti-fad sensibility.

This is a light, fun book which nonetheless has a core of common sense and deeper meaning.

Why do only the awful things become fads? I thought. Eye-rolling and Barbie and bread pudding. Why never chocolate cheesecake or thinking for yourself?

Posted by Julie D.

The SFFaudio Podcast #011 – NEW RELEASES/RECENT ARRIVALS

November 10, 2008 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: New Releases, Podcasts, Recent Arrivals 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #011 – in which our desperate heroes attempt to display the manliness and fortitude, listing all the recent arrivals, and some recent listens.

Talked about on today’s show:
audiobooks, epic fantasy, science fiction, The Runelords, David Farland, Blackstone Audio, Brilliance Audio, Dragonheart, Todd McCaffery, Pern, Penguin Audio, Jim Butcher, Codex Alera, Furies of Calderon, Kate Reading, Random House Audio, The Widows Of Eastwick, John Updike, Peter Straub, Poe’s Children – an anthology, Stephen King, Star Wars – Millennium Falcon, James Luceno, Macmillan Audio, Robert Jordan, Brandon Sanderson, Michael Kramer, Richard Stark, Books On Tape, Frank Herbert, Heretics Of Dune, the Alan Smithee version of Dune (1984), Neal Stephenson, Anathem (28 CDs long!), The Book Of Lies, Brad Meltzer, Ender In Exile, Orson Scott Card, Team America World Police, Sherlock Holmes Theatre, Yuri Rasovsky, audio drama, 2000X, Repent Harlequin Said The Tick-Tock Man, Harlan Ellison, Mercedes Lackey, Foundation, Wizard’s First Rule, Terry Goodkind, Legend Of The Seeker, SFSignal.com, iTunes, Infinivox, Guest Law, John C. Wright, Audio Realms, Shadow Kingdoms, Robert E. Howard, Fallout 3, and Team America: World Police‘s song we’re gonna need a montage!

Posted by Jesse Willis