Take a Look at the Five and Ten

Connie Willis. Subterranean, $40 (120p) ISBN 978-1-64524-019-8
Hugo and Nebula Award–winner Willis (Blackout/All Clear) tests the boundaries of the science fiction genre with a grounded, realistic story that’s sure to impress. Every year, Ori must weather exhausting holiday dinners with a strange amalgamation of not-quite family members, including her former stepfather’s new stepdaughter, Sloan; Sloan’s “boyfriend of the moment”; and the kind but dotty Grandma Elving, who loves reminiscing at length about the winters she spent working at Woolworth’s as a young woman in the 1950s. Sloan’s plus-one to this year’s meal is a medical student named Lassiter who finds more than meets the eye in Grandma Elving’s detailed memories: he believes the specificity of the elderly woman’s recollections is indicative of a traumatic flash bulb memory, the topic of his current lab work. TFBMs are caused by events so traumatic that they force the mind to relive the surrounding moments in extreme detail. As Ori and Lassiter team up to uncover what singular moment might be causing this in Grandma Elving, their relationship blossoms into something more than teamwork—and they discover that Grandma Elving’s flash bulb memory is more unusual than they ever imagined. This brisk holiday novella is quirky, heartwarming, and impossible to put down. Agent: Chris Lotts, the Lotts Agency. (Nov.)
Reviewed on : 09/10/2020
Release date: 11/01/2020
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror
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