book reviews by Althea

Crosstalk – Connie Willis ****

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Crosstalk by Connie Willis

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Reading this book is like experiencing a prolonged anxiety attack. But wait! That’s not a bad thing! It’s like having a funny, clever and romantic anxiety attack!

Connie Willis’ books tend to either feature a comedy of manners set against a dark and dire background… or a comedy of manners in a somewhat less catastrophic situation. This is one in the less-dire and more light-hearted category. But Willis’ humor always has her own distinct flavor; it’s unmistakable – and I love it.

Here, she riffs on the idea that’s been getting tossed around for a while now about whether or not our ever-increasing capability for communication, enhanced by ever-progressing technology, is really a good and productive thing. (Not just ‘riffs,’ but goes into a brilliantly wailing guitar solo on the topic.)

Briddey works for a cell phone company. So does her fiance, Trent. Trent has recently asked Briddey to get an EED with him – a new and trendy surgical procedure which is supposed to help bonded couples have a greater degree of empathy with each other; even enabling them to sense each others’ emotions.

As readers, we’re not led to think that this is a good idea for Briddey for a second. Trent is so enormously clearly a schmuck and a half, and the two haven’t even been together for two months. We’re not the only ones to think it’s a terrible idea – the weird computer geek in the basement lab is also full of dire pronouncements about the plan. And every single person Briddey knows has SOMETHING to say about it, because gossip, whether it’s from family or coworkers, travels faster than the speed of light.

There wouldn’t be much of a story, of course, if something didn’t go wrong – but believe me, the multifarious ways in which things go wrong are unpredictable and terribly amusing.

Many thanks to Gollancz and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this new book by one of my favorite authors. As always, my opinions are solely my own.

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