cover image The Best of Connie Willis: Award-Winning Stories

The Best of Connie Willis: Award-Winning Stories

Connie Willis. Del Rey, $27 (496p) ISBN 978-0-345-54064-5

This anthology demolishes any attempt to pigeonhole SFWA Grand Master and Science Fiction Hall of Famer Willis (Blackout/All Clear). Her six Nebula Awards and 10 Hugo Awards confirm her eminence in speculative fiction, but her versatile range and forthright wit wouldn’t be out of place in the literary mainstream. The gradual revelations of horror through a young girl’s narration in “A Letter from the Clearys” and the madcap comedy of quantum physics playing against randomness in everyday life in “At the Rialto” bear overtones of Shirley Jackson, an acknowledged influence. “Death on the Nile” plumbs identity loss and suggestions of reversion to the past, with no Hercule Poirot to set things straight. Contemporary satire appears in “Even the Queen,” wherein the woes of menstruation are used to skewer hippie feminists. Whimsy also appears in “All Seated on the Ground,” in which a young woman’s experience with a frosty aunt gives her confidence to deal with sulky aliens. Confirmed Willis fans will find interesting reflections in the author’s afterwords, and the reader for whom this diverse selection is an introduction will find incentives to build on the acquaintance. (July)