Connie Willis has won more Hugo and Nebula awards than any other science fiction author. Now, with her trademark wit and inventiveness, she explores the intimate relationship between science, pop culture, and the arcane secrets of the heart.
Sandra Foster studies fads—from Barbie dolls to the grunge look—how they start and what they mean. Bennett O'Reilly is a chaos theorist studying monkey group behavior. They both work for the HiTek corporation, strangers until a misdelivered package brings them together. It's a moment of synchronicity—if not serendipity—which leads them into a chaotic system of their own, complete with a million-dollar research grant, caffé latte, tattoos, and a series of unlucky coincidences that leaves Bennett monkeyless, fundless, and nearly jobless. Sandra intercedes with a flock of sheep and an idea for a joint project. (After all, what better animal to study both chaos theory and the herd mentality that so often characterizes human behavior?) But scientific discovery is rarely straightforward and never simple, and Sandra and Bennett have to endure a series of setbacks, heartbreaks, dead ends, and disasters before they find their ultimate answer. . . .
Praise for Bellwether
“One of science fiction's best writers.”—The Denver Post
“Connie Willis deploys the apparatus of science fiction to illuminate character and relationships, and her writing is fresh, subtle, and deeply moving.”—The New York Times Book Review
“Keen social satire touched with genuine humanity . . . Connie Willis's fiction is one of the most intelligent delights of our genre.”—Locus
“A sheer pleasure to read . . . Sprightly, intelligent fun.”—Publishers Weekly
In Willis's (Doomsday) fifth solo novel, her practiced screwball style yields a clever story which, while imperfect, is a sheer pleasure to read. In the very near future, sociologist/statistician Sandy Foster is researching the source of fads at a Dilbert-like corporation, Hi-Tek. Plagued by Flip, an airhead mail girl, she joins her research to that of Bennett O'Reilly, a chaos theorist studying information diffusion. As in the past, Willis moves her plot along through mix-ups and near-misses, a device that neatly embodies her theme of chaos. Chaos leads to a higher level of organization-breakthroughs in Sandy and Bennett's research, wealth and requited love. Flip, an echo of Robert Browning's Pippa, is an avatar of chaos whose passing alters lives. She's crucial to the story, so Sandy puts up with her in a way that's wimpy, annoying and unbelievable. Where the story's headed becomes transparent too early: the insight into the role of bellwethers in fomenting breakthroughs is not compelling. But none of that counts much against this bright romantic comedy, where the real pleasure is the thick layers of detail (researched or observed), and the wryly disdainful commentary on human stupidity. Something like a collaboration between Jane Austen and C. M. Kornbluth, it's sprightly, intelligent fun.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Bellwether = Charming
Connie Willis's Bellwether, nominated for the 1997 Nebula Award, is a sci-fi novel without much sci-fi and with a lot of heart and humor. Connie Willis is known for how easy she is to read, pulling you into the world she creates and letting you live there for the length of the story. Bellwether follows Sandra Foster, a scientist in the midst of studying where fads come from for a large corporation, with a a completely inept assistant named Flip. Flip is the Puck of the story, creating chaos wherever she goes that leads Sandra into the office of Bennett O'Reilly, another scientist working for HiTek Corp. A romantic comedy of errors with office hijinks that anyone who's ever worked at a desk will find humor in. This book is a great way to spend an afternoon, and will leave your heart warmed to the core.
Not as good as the other books, but was ok, teaches a great lesson about thinking for one's self