cover image Crosstalk


Connie Willis. Del Rey, $28 (495p) ISBN 978-0-345-54067-6

SFWA Grand Master Willis’s first novel since 2010’s Blackout/All Clear is a rollicking send-up of obsessive cell phone usage in too-near-future America. A brain-altering medical procedure designed to enhance lovers’ abilities to connect emotionally goes spectacularly haywire for Commspan employee Briddey Flannigan, who’s besieged by her ultra-intrusive Irish-American family, and her fellow employee Trent Worth, a rising star at the tech company. Instead of being linked to Trent, Briddey finds herself telepathically hooked up to C.B. Schwartz, Commspan’s lab-dwelling supernerd. Their connection sets off an extended chain of interpersonal misunderstandings, hilarious coincidences, and sad-but-true reflections on our fixations with digital gadgetry, which can threaten and prevent genuine intimacy. Willis’s canny incorporation of scientific lore, and a riotous cast of stock Irish-American characters who nevertheless manage to surprise the reader, make for an engaging girl-finally-finds-right-boy story that’s unveiled with tact and humor. Willis juxtaposes glimpses of claimed historical telepaths with important reflections about the ubiquity of cell phones and the menace that unscrupulous developers of technology pose to privacy, morality, and emotional stability. Agent: Chris Lotts, Lotts Agency. (Oct.)