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Connie Willis

PostPosted: Sunday, 02 November 2008, 1:08 am
by DavidTate
Connie Willis is the most highly-decorated science fiction author of recent years. According to her page at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database (, she has won:

1982 - Fire Watch Nebula Award, Novelette (Win)
1982 - A Letter from the Clearys Nebula Award, Short Story (Win)
1983 - Fire Watch SF Chronicle Award, Novelette (Win)
1983 - Fire Watch Hugo Award, Best Novelette (Win)
1988 - Lincoln's Dreams John W. Campbell Award, John W. Campbell Memorial Award (Win)
1988 - The Last of the Winnebagos Nebula Award, Novella (Win)
1989 - The Last of the Winnebagos SF Chronicle Award, Novella (Win)
1989 - The Last of the Winnebagos Hugo Award, Best Novella (Win)
1989 - At the Rialto Nebula Award, Novelette (Win)
1992 - Doomsday Book Nebula Award, Novel (Win)
1992 - Even the Queen Nebula Award, Short Story (Win)
1993 - Even the Queen SF Chronicle Award, Short Story (Win)
1993 - Doomsday Book Hugo Award, Best Novel (Win)
1993 - Even the Queen Hugo Award, Best Short Story (Win)
1993 - Doomsday Book Locus Poll Award, Best SF Novel (Place: 1)
1993 - Even the Queen Locus Poll Award, Best Short Story (Place: 1)
1994 - Death on the Nile SF Chronicle Award, Short Story (Win)
1994 - Death on the Nile Hugo Award, Best Short Story (Win)
1994 - Close Encounter Locus Poll Award, Best Short Story (Place: 1)
1994 - Impossible Things Locus Poll Award, Best Collection (Place: 1)
1996 - Remake Locus Poll Award, Best Novella (Place: 1)
1997 - The Soul Selects Her Own Society: Invasion and Repulsion: A Chronological Reinterpretation of Two of Emily Dickinson's Poems: A Wellsian Perspective Hugo Award, Best Short Story (Win)
1997 - Bellwether Locus Poll Award, Best Novella (Place: 1)
1998 - Newsletter Locus Poll Award, Best Novelette (Place: 1)
1999 - To Say Nothing of the Dog Hugo Award, Best Novel (Win)
1999 - To Say Nothing of the Dog Locus Poll Award, Best SF Novel (Place: 1)
1999 - Locus Poll Award, Best SF/Fantasy Author of the 90's (Place: 1)
2000 - The Winds of Marble Arch Hugo Award, Best Novella (Win)
2002 - Passage Locus Poll Award, Best SF Novel (Place: 1)
2006 - Inside Job Hugo Award, Best Novella (Win)
2008 - All Seated on the Ground Hugo Award, Best Novella (Win)

My word -- 8 Hugos, 5 Nebulas, assorted Locus and J.W. Campbell awards... quite a resume.

I have to admit that I have only read a few works by Willis. I have read the novel Doomsday Book, which I found to be excellent, with minor reservations. I have read the novel To Say Nothing of the Dog, a comedy homage to Jerome K. Jerome's Three Men in a Boat, set in the same universe as the foregoing (which was not at all comic). I found it much less amusing than many other people apparently find it. I have read the novella "Fire Watch", related to the two aforementioned novels, and found it to be quite good. I have read some of her short fiction, including the critically-acclaimed "All My Darling Daughters", and found them to be uneven -- and, in the case of AMDD, unreadably misanthropic. I have NOT read any of her more recent acclaimed novels, such as Bellwether or Passage. I am certainly not the ideal advocate for Ms Willis's works, but her absence from these pages is hard to miss. I have heard that she inspires rather bipolar reactions from readers; people either love her works, or loathe them. I neither loved nor loathed the works I have read (with the exception of AMDD); I thought they ranged from decent to quite good. Good enough to justify her cartload of trophies? I couldn't say.

I mentioned minor reservations about Doomsday Book. The fundamental chaos of everyday endeavors seems to be a recurring theme in Ms Willis's works. I have a certain degree of sympathy with that view, but I can take only so much ineptitude from my protagonists, and only so much adverse misfortune and coincidence in a plot. Doomsday Book was pretty close to my limits -- but did not surpass them. Oddly, the fact that it was NOT a comic novel probably helped in this regard -- I had much less patience with TSNotD.

I'd be curious to hear Eric's thoughts on Ms Willis, if any.

Re: Connie Willis

PostPosted: Thursday, 27 November 2008, 5:23 am
by owlcroft
Not yet read here.

What I have seen said elsewhere does not leave me feeling a deep need to immediately add her to the Other Candidates lists. If I live long enough, who knows, but so many books, so little time . . . .

(Most of which I squander anyway.)

Re: Connie Willis

PostPosted: Sunday, 30 January 2011, 12:08 pm
by kreigfoster
Ms. Moon is now working on a sequel to the three Paksennarion books, although I have no idea when it may be available.

Re: Connie Willis

PostPosted: Thursday, 05 May 2011, 5:18 pm
by Dogtuckerman
I remember reading the Doomsday Book six or seven years ago and not being overly impressed. It was good fun but didn't strike me as great literature, although I would like to re-read it or perhaps another work of hers.

Chiefly I remember the scenes featuring the bookshop where I work (Blackwell's in Oxford).

Re: Connie Willis

PostPosted: Friday, 13 July 2012, 10:52 pm
by DavidTate
I've now read Willis's most recent "Oxford time travel" novel: the single story that was published in two volumes as Blackout and All Clear. I was pleasantly surprised; I liked it rather better (and was more absorbed by it) than I remember with Doomsday Book. The ongoing theme of chaos and unpredictability is still there, but it's given a very different spin in this story. That different spin makes it easier to take, at least for me. I enjoyed the book(s) very much.

Highly recommended to fans of
time travel
WW2 Britain
Agatha Christie
...but you should read Doomsday Book and "Fire Watch" first.

Re: Connie Willis

PostPosted: Thursday, 25 October 2012, 1:36 am
by tysonlee
Interesting. Perhaps if we wish to discuss this we should move it to the "Everything Else" forum.


PostPosted: Friday, 29 March 2013, 8:40 pm
by DavidTate
I have now read the novel Bellwether -- or, rather, listened to an extremely well-read audiobook edition. It's the Blackstone Audio edition, read by (aptly enough) Kate Reading.

It's a pretty good book. For me, the most interesting facet of it is that it is clearly inspired by, and homage to, Avram Davidson's classic short story "The Sources of the Nile". (For anyone who might have missed that, Ms. Willis makes it very clear late in the book, with repeated references out of the blue to "the source of the Nile".) That's both a fun reason to be interested in the story, and a very large pair of shoes to step into.

Like its inspiration, Bellwether isn't really sf. It invokes chaos theory, but not in any counterfactual way. What it is is a reasonably successful comic novel about where fads come from, corporate culture, the ovine nature of humans, and the scientific research bureaucracy.

Now, to go re-read "The Sources of the Nile"...