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The Best of Connie Willis: Award-Winning Stories Hardcover – Deckle Edge, July 9, 2013
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In her humble and reflective introduction to this collection, spanning 25 years of Hugo and Nebula Award–winning short fiction, Willis describes how she fell so “madly in love” with sf short stories in her youth that she’s still writing them 40 years later. Her passion comes through in the vision and variety represented in this collection, from haunting futures (“A Letter from the Clearys”; “The Last of the Winnebagos”) to wryly funny portrayals of scientists, academics, and aliens (“All Seated on the Ground”; “At the Rialto”). Famous figures such as Emily Dickinson (“The Soul Selects Her Own Society”) and H. L. Mencken (“Inside Job”) save the world in unexpected ways, and “women’s issues” take on new meaning in “Even the Queen.” “Fire Watch” expresses Willis’ fascination with the compassion and resilience of Londoners during the Blitz, while the eerie “Death on the Nile” philosophically confronts the inevitability of death, ideas that come together in “Winds of the Marble Arch” and are explored in later novels. Three signature award-acceptance speeches are also included. This is the essential Willis collection. --Krista Hutley
Praise for The Best of Connie Willis
“Filled with warmth and sadness, great drama, witty dialogue, characters you will care about and moments that you will remember for a long time.”—SFF World
“If anyone can be named ‘best science fiction writer of the age,’ it’s Connie Willis, and these stories are the best of her best. Truly.”—Analog
“Ranging from the hilarious to the profound, these stories show the full range of [Connie] Willis’s talent for taut, dazzling plots, real science, memorable characters, penetrating dialogue and blistering drama.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Thank goodness [for] Connie Willis, who says many things that desperately need saying in more than one delightful way.”—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“The Best of Connie Willis? Isn’t that like sorting through diamonds?”—Lytherus
Praise for Connie Willis
“A novelist who can plot like Agatha Christie and whose books possess a bounce and stylishness that Preston Sturges might envy.”—The Washington Post
“One of America’s finest writers . . . Willis can tell a story so packed with thrills, comedy, drama and a bit of red herring that the result is apt to satisfy the most discriminating, and hungry, reader.”—The Denver Post
“A wit with a common touch who’s read more great books, and makes better use of them in her work, than two or three lit professors put together.”—Newsday
“A national treasure.”—San Antonio Express-News
“Willis can tell a story like no other. . . . One of her specialties is sparkling, rapid-fire dialogue; another, suspenseful plotting; and yet another, dramatic scenes so fierce that they burn like after-images in the reader’s memory.”—The Village Voice
“Willis’s fiction is one of the most intelligent delights of our genre.”—Locus
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In a collection edited by Mercedes Lackey, I found such an author. Before I even finished the story I was looking through Amazon books, searching for anything else by Connie Willis. I was lucky enough to find this whole book of her short stories, which I have just now finished. In this book she made me laugh, taught me some history about St. Paul's I'm ashamed I didn't already know, choked me up, made me laugh... After one story I was her fan. After a book full of her stories, I'm her ardent admirer. As soon as I send this off, I'm going to start on her novels, and if you have any sense yourself, you'll quit reading NOW and start reading this book of her stories. Every second you wait is keeping you from being introduced to a Master of her craft.
Some of these stories I've read before in Analog or Asimov's magazine (I don't remember which). But Willis is an author that is fresh even in reruns. Every story was interesting or unique. All had prose that flowed smoothly from start to finish. All had characters that were *real*, not characters. Some of the stories are classics, such as Last of the Winnebagos.
Simply put: A collection not to be missed.
Equally interesting were her list of the authors who influenced her, especially since they are the same authors who influenced me, notably (but not limited to) Shirley Jackson and Robert Heinlein.
My introduction to Connie Willis was The Doomsday Book. Not exactly one of her lighthearted humorous books, but it was written entirely for me. I have two huge literary passions: the 14th century and time travel. The Doomsday Book is about time travel back to the 14th century, so I was predestined to love it. After that, I worked my way through the rest of the Cambridge Time Travel series and then ...
I discovered her shorter works. All Seated On the Ground (included in this anthology) had me laughing so hard it woke my husband from a dead sleep to ask me what in the world was going on. This has got to be the funniest alien invasion in all of science fiction. Yet it also has a message. Willis is one of the few authors who can include a message without making you feel like someone's banging you over the head with it. It's there, not hidden, not obscure, but gently put. For your consideration.
I love every story in this collection, though All Seated On the Ground is my favorite. The Last of the Winnebagos is a must-read for every science fiction fan. Honestly, every story in this collection is a must-read. These are fantastic, wonderful, elegantly written stories. Some of them are novellas and are long enough to sink into and stay a while.
A Letter From the Clearys is an example of perfect economy in writing. Every sentence is crafted, layered, purposeful. Every paragraph is important as the story slowly peels away layers to uncover a post apocalyptic world in which one family tries desperately to cope.
The stories are, without exception, gems. At the Rialto is funny, weird, full of the bizarre contradictions of time travel and chaos theory. Connie Willis is obviously fascinated by chaos theory as am I.
I am obliged to admit at this point that short stories are not my favorite literary form. I prefer long books. Very long books. I like series of very long books. After I move into a world, I want to stay there, settle down, and get to know the neighbors. Connie Willis is the only author whose short stories I like as much as her longer works. Do not miss this collection. Even if you have read the stories elsewhere, having them together in one binding is special. I hate to sound like an advertisement, but this would make a great gift for anyone who loves science fiction.
The book includes:
A Letter from the ClearysAt the RialtoDeath on the NileThe Soul Selects Her Own SocietyFire WatchInside JobEven the QueenThe Winds of Marble ArchAll Seated on the GroundThe Last of the Winnebagos.
And although I have all these stories in various books including a couple of them as standalone novellas, this is worth having for the wonderful introduction (don't skip it!) and the delight of having such great stuff in one book.
I have it on Kindle, but this one? I've ordered the hardcover version ... because some books are worth the shelf space.