Books by Connie Willis

TERRA INCOGNITA by Connie Willis
Released: Aug. 21, 2018

"Clever, funny, thought-provoking, and sweet, these stories are classic Willis."
A master of fantasy playfully combines science fiction with other genres in three antic novellas. Read full book review >
Released: April 30, 2018

"Willis has a delightful comic voice, but it's hard to imagine who the audience is supposed to be for this book. Concerned bibliophiles will find far more coherent nonfiction discussions of literary loss—Nicholson Baker's Double Fold springs to mind—while fans of Willis' fiction should probably stick to her novels, which feature fully drawn characters instead of straw men."
A passionate rant about books being lost to changing document-preservation practices, lightly disguised as a novella. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 10, 2017

"Fans of Willis' gently comic speculative fiction will love this collection, and it will also appeal to readers looking to get into the holiday spirit."
A collection of Christmas stories with just the right blend of sugar and spice. Read full book review >
CROSSTALK by Connie Willis
Released: Oct. 4, 2016

"In other hands this novel could have been mere cliché, but Willis' exuberant humor and warmhearted, fast-paced plotting transform it into a satisfying, if old-fashioned, romantic comedy."
Think smartphones and social media are threatening privacy? Imagine if you could hear everyone's thoughts—and they could hear yours. Read full book review >
Released: July 9, 2013

"Ranging from the hilarious to the profound, these stories show the full range of Willis' talent for taut, dazzling plots, real science, memorable characters, penetrating dialogue and blistering drama—and may guide inquisitive readers toward her equally accomplished and acclaimed novels."
Ten award-winning stories, 1982-2007, plus three equally well-regarded award acceptance speeches, from the much-celebrated author (All Clear, 2011, etc.). Read full book review >
PASSAGE by Connie Willis
Released: May 8, 2001

"Once again, Willis has developed an idea that bears all the authority of a genuine insight: disturbingly plausible, compelling, intensely moving, and ultimately uplifting."
New contemporary, near-mainstream outing for the celebrated author of To Say Nothing of the Dog (1997), etc. Joanna Lander, a clinical psychologist at Denver's Mercy General hospital, studies patients who've had Near Death Experiences (NDEs). Her biggest problem is Maurice Mandrake, bestselling author and self-appointed life-after-death expert; Mandrake keeps reaching the NDE subjects before Joanna does, inducing them to confabulate, rendering their accounts useless for Joanna's purposes. Worse, he keeps trying to enlist Joanna to his cause. Then Joanna meets neurologist Richard Wright: he's developing a scientific theory about NDEs, using an experimental drug to simulate NDEs while scanning activity in the brain. Joanna agrees to collaborate with Richard, and quickly identifies several of his subjects as Mandrake spies. Another subject abruptly quits, terrified of what she's experienced. So Joanna agrees to attempt the drug-simulated NDE herself. Like many of those she's interviewed, she experiences a long dark passage with a brilliant golden-white light at the end, and sees shadowy figures swathed in white. Are they angels, as Mandrake insists? In further NDE trips, Joanna explores beyond the door at the end of the tunnel—a place oddly familiar, in a way she can't quite recall. Other NDE reports seem to tie in with hers. But Joanna will find to her horror that the distinction between near death and actual death is by no means well defined, and that she's still at the beginning of a long, extraordinary, chilling, fascinating journey.Read full book review >
MIRACLE by Connie Willis
Released: Nov. 9, 1999

The witty author of the splendid, multi-award—winning Doomsday Book (1992) and its quasi sequel, To Say Nothing of the Dog (1997), here collects a sheaf of six yuletide tales she's published annually in Asimov's magazine, plus two previously unpublished stories. As a bonus, she includes a list of 12 terrific things to read at Christmas—try the originals (Matt. 1: 18—25; 2:1—18 and Luke 1:5—20; 2:1—52) and Dickens's immortal portrait of Scrooge—as well as 12 others to watch. Willis stomps Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life, despite some swell scenes, for its lack of irony, letting Potter off without punishment, and faking the generosity of the townspeople, while praising Miracle on 34th Street on high, as the real Santa is sent to Bellevue for believing he's . . . well, just see for yourself and let your heart crack. In her introduction, Willis surveys Christmas stories through the ages, admitting her bias toward science-fiction. Her title story, "Miracle," amusingly savages It's a Wonderful Life: TV sets play the film on every channel everywhere Lauren goes, and an unwanted Christmas tree from the astral plane, sent by her late sister, grows out of her kitchen floor! A muscular imagination, with drolleries and epiphanies galore. Put this at the top of your Must Buy holiday shopping list. Read full book review >
NEBULA AWARDS 33 by Connie Willis
Released: April 29, 1999

paper 0-15-600601-4 Nebula's 1997 award-winners and ballot finalists are presented by Willis, who takes over from last year's editor, Jack Dann. Representing Best Novel, there's an excerpt from Vonda N. McIntyre's splendid historical fantasy, The Moon and the Stars, while Jerry Oltion's ghostly Apollo capsule, "Abandon in Place," wins Best Novella, and "The Flowers of Aulit Prison," Nancy Kress's investigation of crime, society, and reality, has captured Best Novelette. The Best Short Story Award goes to "Sister Emily's Lightship" from Jane Yolen. Also on show are impressive finalist yarns from James Patrick Kelly, Michael Swanwick, Gregory Feely, James Alan Gardner, and Karen Joy Fowler. The Rhysling Award Winners (for poetry) are W. Gregory Stewart and Terry A. Garey. Nelson Bond, represented by his story "The Bookshop," has accepted Author Emeritus status (you're forgiven if you've never heard of him). And Poul Anderson, virtuoso of short- and mid-length fiction—his typically brilliant "The Martyr" appears here—thoroughly deserves his Grand Master Award. Nonfiction enthusiasts, however, are in for a thumping disappointment. Maybe somebody decided that last year's opinionated and thoroughly refreshing growls and hisses Simply Wouldn't Do. But for whatever reason, 1997's nonfiction is just anodyne scraps (the redoubtable Kim Stanley Robinson honorably excepted). No obituaries appear, despite the passing of Jerome Bixby (author of several all-time great short stories, plus a couple of the finest Star Trek scripts), of innovative editor/writer Judith Merrill, and of Australia's greatest (and vastly underrated) SF novelist, George Turner. Even Bill Warren's eagerly anticipated dissection of the year's movies has been ditched. Terrific fiction, a Bronx cheer for the nonfiction. Read full book review >
Released: Dec. 8, 1997

Comic yarn set in the same time-traveling universe as the splendid Doomsday Book (1992), with some of the minor characters in common. In 2057, the fearsome, slave-driving Lady Schrapnell has lent her authority and her money to developing time travel so that she can rebuild Old Coventry Cathedral, destroyed by Nazi bombs in 1940. After too many recent missions, operative Ned Henry is timelagged and in need of a complete rest. But Lady Schrapnell has another vital task for poor Ned: to locate a grotesque Victorian artifact known as the bishop's bird stump. A chronological complication that Ned is only dimly aware of, though, has arisen and must be fixed before history is changed. So a bewildered Ned finds himself in Oxford in 1889, wearing boating clothes, accompanied by a mountain of luggage, a regal cat in a box, and no idea what he's supposed to do next. Finally, after drifting along the river in an unintentional parody of Three Men in a Boat, he locates his contact, Verity Kindle (she caused the problem in the first place). There's a downside to all this slapstick, of course: Unless Ned and Verity resolve the problem, the Nazis will win WW II. Gleeful fun with a serious edge, set forth in an almost impeccable English accent. Read full book review >
PROMISED LAND by Connie Willis
Released: Feb. 1, 1997

After expensive schooling off-planet, Delanna Milleflores returns to planet Keramos intending to stay just long enough to settle her recently deceased mother's estate. But, thanks to Keramos's weird laws, Delanna finds that, in order to inherit, she must live on the estate until the legalities are completed; worse, she's legally married to the estate's co-owner, Sonny Tanner! Dismissing Sonny as a bumpkin, Delanna flirts with handsome wolf Jay Madog while reluctantly making arrangements to travel to Milleflores—some 5,000 miles distant. Despite various adventures and embarrassments, Delanna arrives at Milleflores realizing that Sonny, though uneducated, is intelligent and hardworking; by contrast, her mother was a rude, idle snob—and whatever profits Sonny managed to squeeze out were sent to Delanna at school, to waste on expensive clothes and parties. Further complications include Delanna's illegally imported pet, the local wildlife, storms, and the omnipresent Jay. Light, amusing, and well worked out: a vast improvement over the wretched Light Raid (1989). Read full book review >
BELLWETHER by Connie Willis
Released: April 1, 1996

Here-and-now speculative yarn involving chaos theory and statistical prediction, from the author of the fine Doomsday Book (1992), etc. Employed by the HiTek company, Sandra Foster is trying to develop a theory that can predict how and why fads and trends begin. But her attempts to computerize her data (mostly in the form of magazine and newspaper clippings) are constantly frustrated by the awful Flip, the erratic, forgetful, careless interdepartmental assistant. Still, Flip does lead Sandra to meet biologist Bennett O'Reilly, who thinks he's discovered a hidden factor within current chaos theories. As Flip blunders about—ghastly black lipstick, weird clothes, faddish accessories, attitude problem and all— Sandra and Bennett decide to set up a joint project to test their ideas on the behavior of a flock of sheep. HiTek's management heartily approves—such a project might well win the coveted Niebnitz Grant. Sandra and Bennett learn that a bellwether sheep unconsciously acts as a catalyst to determine the entire flock's behavior. Bingo! Flip, while seeming totally incompetent, unknowingly acts as a human bellwether, causing fads and trends to crystallize around her as she lurches chaotically through life. Willis's intriguing notion comes across with the authority of a genuine insight—and probably merits a more dramatic and thoroughgoing workout than the agreeable but bland treatment it receives here. Read full book review >
DOOMSDAY BOOK by Connie Willis
Released: June 15, 1992

Second solo novel (following Lincoln's Dreams, 1987) from an author best known for her strong stories (the collection Fire Watch, etc.). In the Oxford of Christmas, 2054, time travel is a well- established tool of historical research. Kivrin Engles has labored diligently to acquire the language and practical skills necessary to survive in the 14th century—for her destination is Christmas, 1320. Nearby, an archeological dig is uncovering artifacts from the same period. But problems beset the ``drop'': Kivrin's schedule is advanced by Gilchrist, the professor in charge (he's more concerned with his reputation than the safety of his researchers) before her immunizations (irritatingly called ``inoculations'' by Willis) can take full effect; and the technician in charge of the time- calculations, Badri, falls mysteriously ill just as the drop goes ahead. Dunworthy, Kivrin's academic mentor and friend, his place usurped by Gilchrist, suspects something has gone wrong—but the delirious Badri can provide only forbidding hints. Soon a full- blown influenza epidemic is raging. Meanwhile, in the 14th century, Kivrin overcomes initial obstacles (she comes down with the flu; her mental translator doesn't work) to become absorbed in the life and people of a tiny village—in particular she admires Roche, the priest, a simple and illiterate Anglo-Saxon despised by the local Norman aristocracy. But as an enigmatic ``blue sickness'' takes hold in the village, Kivrin realizes that she's not in 1320 but 1348—the year bubonic plague ravaged England. Soon, the entire village lies dying, nursed only by Kivrin and the saintly Roche, who, ironically, thinks she's a saint sent by God to restore the faith. Meantime, up in the 21st century, Badri hovers near death; Dunworthy, desperately worried about Kivrin, himself succumbs; plague dominates both centuries. Solid characters, crisp, almost perfect detail, and excellent subplots that maintain the tension at an almost unendurable level. Splendid work—brutal, gripping, and genuinely harrowing, the product of diligent research, fine writing, and well-honed instincts, that should appeal far beyond the usual science-fiction constituency. Read full book review >
LIGHT RAID by Connie Willis
Released: May 1, 1989

From the authors of Lincoln's Dreams (Willis), Downtime (Felice) and (collectively) Water Witch: a brusque, YA-ish and crumbly near-future war-and-intrigue romance. Quebec is at war with the Western States and the Commonwealth, the chief weapons being superpowerful laser-blasters mounted on orbiting space platforms. What are they fighting about? Well, that's not too clear. Young Hellene Ariadne, forcibly evacuated to Vancouver from strife-torn Denver Springs, becomes alarmed when parental letters stop arriving and illicitly hightails it home—only to discover her father drunk, her mother imprisoned and their friendly old biotech employer, Hydra Corp., being bossed by Prince Miles Essex and his handsome sidekick, Joss Liddell. Ariadne's mother, it seems, is suspected of being a Quebec saboteur, and the news has knocked poor weary Dad for a loop. Ariadne shows little affection for her parents—and vice versa—though she does like the look of Joss Liddell, who, to nobody's surprise, turns out to be from Scotland Yard. But can she trust him, or his royal boss? is her mother really guilty? Will Dad's liver hold up? Of course she's guilty—and of course Joss will turn out to be Mr. Right. Absurd and empty-headed, from the unfathomable backdrop, ho-hum plot, creaky romance and its insufferable narrator to the Classical chitons everybody goes round wearing (just in case you forgot the Greek connection). Balderdash in ouzo. Read full book review >