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D.A. Hardcover – June 25, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Some high school kids would do anything to be an IASA space cadet, but not Theodora Baumgarten in Willis's cheerfully tongue-in-cheek SF novella. "There's no air, you're squashed into a ship the size of a juice can, and it takes years to get anywhere interesting. If you... aren't killed first by a meteor or a solar flare or a systems malfunction." But somehow, without submitting an application, Theodora is accepted to the Academy. Soon, she's green with space sickness aboard the Academy space station (named, appropriately enough, the Robert A. Heinlein), learning the ropes with a class of robust, gung-ho cadets. Getting out will require solving the mystery of how she got into the Academy in the first place, but it might have something to do with the annotation "D.A." in her station records. Willis (Inside Job) turns a cherished SF theme completely inside out. (June)
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Top customer reviews
I mentioned that D.A. is a Heinleinesque story, and I stand by that assertion. If you’ve read The Menace from Earth, or Podkayne of Mars, which feature young adult female leads, or even stories like Star Beast or Starman Jones that feature female characters, you will recognize the spirit of the Heinlein, and maybe even the Andre Norton, juveniles here. Over the last decade I have become enormously fond of those stories, and so I compare them in order to compliment Willis on this novella.
Theodora Baumgarten is an engaging, entertaining protagonist. Connie Willis writes her with 21st century sensibilities while also managing to get that teenage voice just right. She is smart and resourceful, but also willful and potentially reckless. I won’t say much about the story as it is one you need to experience unspoiled to get the full effect. I will reiterate what I wrote above, which is that Theodora finds herself chosen to participate in IASA’s Space Academy, an honor that she neither deserves (according to admission standards), nor wants. But despite doing everything she can to get out of this assignment, she ends up in space. What she does while there is what makes the story interesting, and informs it’s title.
I loved this one. It is a quick read and those who are not fond of short stories may lament that they are just getting to know this fun character when it is all over, but for me D.A. is a testament of what can be done when a talented author sets out to write a fun, entertaining short story. It won’t change your life, but it will make you glad you took a moment to read it.
D.A. is $2.99 on the Kindle, and it is my opinion that it was three dollars well spent. This is one I will read again. In fact, I will probably read it aloud to my wife here soon as it would be fun to share with her and I would get the bonus of being able to spend time with Theodora Baumgarten again. If Willis ever decides to feature her in a full-length novel, she could count on me for a release-week sale.
But Connie Willis is one of my all-time favorite authors. When is she going to write another novel, like the superb "Passage" of 2001? And in the meantime, if she's going to write short fiction, why cheat her faithful readers by selling them as individually bound books? I wasn't very pleased when she did this with "Inside Job," her expensive 2005 novella, but it's really getting ridiculous with this book.
"The Winds of Marble Arch" is supposed to be coming out in September, but that's a collection of short fiction - many (most?) of which have been published in previous collections. OK, yeah, I'll still buy it. She is, as I say, one of my very favorite authors. But I hate to be taken for a sucker. This... short story would make a nice little gift for a kid, but nothing more than that.