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Bellwether Mass Market Paperback – June 2, 1997
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From Kirkus Reviews
Top Customer Reviews
This book reads so easily that you might be deceived into thinking that it's simply written. Hardly. Willis has worked very hard to tie together a number of disparate elements. Some of the most enjoyable parts of the book are the short descriptions of dozens of past fads -- everything from coonskin caps to bobbed hair to mah jong. In the process, Willis tells us a lot about what we're willing to do to "belong."
I noticed from previous reviews that some people were disappointed with this book because it really isn't science fiction. It's true, this is not traditional science fiction, with a futuristic setting, new technology, etc. But Willis's remarks that relate fads to chaos theory are very well thought-out. In giving the reader something new to think about, she meets the basic test of science fiction. And in creating an enjoyable, perceptive story, she meets the challenge of being an exceptionally good writer.
If you've ever entered an IKEA through the front entrance (instead of sneaking through the marketplace), you'll understand the "sheep" reference. People walking along assigned pathways, eyes glancing downward nervously, following large black arrows on the floor, not daring to stray from the path, much less walk in the opposite direction.
Sandra Foster works in a "Dilbert" type corporation, trying to work out what causes fads, from hairstyles to crossword puzzles. Bennett O'Reilly works for the same corporation, studying chaos theories. When these two get together thanks to a misdelivered package, things really start to get chaotic, compounded by the hiring of an assistant for Flip, who is (gasp) a SMOKER, and Management's efficiency meetings.
Studying the behavioral patterns of a flock of sheep proves to be a lot harder than it looks (almost as hard as filling up a Corporation request for a paper clip) but through some coincidental occurrences they learn the secret of the wooly herd-followers the hard way.
An enjoyably easy read, I especially liked the information on various fads at the beginning of each chapter. Like most of the other people who've read this book, you'll probably like it.
Amanda Richards, September 24, 2005
The story revolves around Sandy, a research scientist working at HiTek. She is searching for the cause of fads. There would be a lot of money for the people who could predict the next fad. She is focusing on the fad of 'hair bobbing' that afflicted women in the 1920s. If she can find what caused it she can apply the model to fads in general.
When the story starts things aren't going to well for Sandy. She's found lots of leads, but nothing conclusive. Her investigations are hampered and conversely helped by the conditions and environment she is forced to work in.
'Bellwether' is written with a wickedly cynical sense of humour. I had to stop reading in a couple of places as I was laughing so hard. The characters have to be read to be believed. Even the incidental people in the book are beautifully described. They are the sort of people you never want to meet, but that you know are out there.
Some of the characters don't have names, but this is because they don't need them. The most notable example is Sandy's boss, he (the gender is specified) is simply the Management. He is the epitome of everything that you think off when you think about corporate management. I won't go into detail as it would take some of the fun out of the book, but Connie has captured the concept with breathtaking accuracy.
Connie manages to include huge amounts of information about both fads and chaos theory without being boring or impenetrable.
Each chapter has a paragraph at the start about one fad.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I received this as a gift after liking To Say Nothing of the Dog very much. Bellwether is also very very good, and like Dog in tone. Read morePublished 15 days ago by DGPam
Delightfully ridiculous. Willis had a pretty great mashing of ideas in her head for this book. First, the annoying prevalence of "management" and over-involvement of... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Dione Basseri
This is Connie Willis at her quirky best! The main story line involves a researcher trying to find the event that started the fad of hair bobbing. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Carol Halsey
Great science oriented book that makes you think about society and why we do the things we do.Published 4 months ago by K. Smith