Review of Cibola by Connie Willis

Cibola by Connie WillisCibola
By Connie Willis; Read by Amy Bruce
1 Cassette – 50 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
ISBN: 1884612156
Publisher: Infinivox
Published: 1996
Themes: Fantasy / History / Time Travel

Carla Johnson from the Denver Record was used to covering nuttos such as a time machine inventor who sent people to the future with his washing machine and a psychic dentist who extracted teeth in another plane of reality. Her new assignment was to cover Rosa Turcorillio, the great-granddaughter of Coronado. Rosa claimed to know where the Seven Cities Of Gold were. Coronado trekked through the Southwest looking for the Seven Cities of Cibola in the 1540s, which poked a big hole in Rosa’s story, since any great-granddaughter of his would have to be at least three hundred years old. But before long, Carla sets out to find the Seven Cities of Gold for herself.

This novella is set in Connie Willis’ home turf of Colorado. My first thought on finishing this story was that it was that Infinivox had erred; they placed this tale in their “Great Science Fiction Stories” series and it isn’t science fiction. It’d fit far better into the fantasy category. Overall, I was disappointed, but don’t get me wrong – Connie Willis is a good writer. Her text is clear and her subjects are original. But like her Hugo and Nebula award-winning novel Doomsday Book, Cibola is way too long for the plot. Scenes are drawn out and character’s thoughts and words are often repeated over and over. The good news is that she is an amusing writer. Cibola offers no out-and-out belly laughs, but it did induce a smile or two. Personally I’m very surprised at Connie Willis’ immense and enduring popularity. Even Cibola, one of her less honored stories, was nominated for a Hugo! Willis is a decent yarn-spinner but her work is not that of an exceptional author.

Amy Bruce has a great voice. Her range isn’t tested by this particular tale, but that doesn’t stop her from having some fun with it. Her voicing of the Rosa Turcorillo character deserves special praise. Infinivox has looped in a drum beat in-between several scenes of the story – and this helps keep the pace up and show progression – something this story really needed. This drum addition could have come off sounding cheesy but it works well and helps the story’s repetition not seem so… repetitive. Also nice is the original cover art and the introductory Infinivox music. I really wish this company was still producing new titles – it’s a crying shame they don’t get the attention they deserve.

Posted by Jesse Willis

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