cover image Terra Incognita: Three Novellas

Terra Incognita: Three Novellas

Connie Willis. Del Rey, $17 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-1-5247-9686-0

SFWA Grand Master Willis, noted for science fiction novels that range from harrowing (Doomsday Book) to hilarious (To Say Nothing of the Dog), displays her penchant for screwball satire in these three previously published novellas, which have not really withstood the test of time. 1994’s “Uncharted Territory” takes place on an alien planet and involves three human surveyors and their indigenous sentient scout, whose adventures are dramatized back on Earth. Willis uses the planetary romance as a vehicle to satirize bureaucracy, political correctness, and gender identification. 1995’s “Remake” takes place in a near-future Hollywood (featuring the Trump Chinese Theatre), where live movie-making has been replaced by digital images of deceased stars that are pasted into endlessly recycled remakes of film classics. The movie references come fast and furious as a CGI programmer meets a young woman whose dream is to dance in an actual movie. In 2007’s “D.A.”, which parodies Robert A. Heinlein’s “juvenile” novels, a high school girl is shanghaied into the prestigious International Space Academy and sets out to prove that she is the victim of a conspiracy. Once cutting-edge, these works now feel dated, proving that science fiction satire has a short half-life. (Aug.)