Connie Willis, Crosstalk, Gollancz, 2016.
As much as possible, I try not to review twice the same author, except in the Collections. There are so many writers worth being discovered and if I did, I'd probably spend my time reviewing some of my favourites in a loop: Pratchett, Stross, McMaster Bujold, Willis... Oops! "Do you, at least, have a good reason for reviewing Willis again?" will you ask with a stern look. Yes: my reason is that we all need a laugh and a feel good story right now and that's what Crosstalk provides aplenty...
Briddey is an executive in a mobile phone company. Her boyfriend has proposed, not marriage, but an EED, a minor surgery that enables two persons to know what they feel. She has happily consented but making it happen while the company tries to launch a new product the resident genius has trouble producing and while her family is being as intrusive as ever proves to be a bit of a challenge. And of course, it will have unintended consequences.
Sometimes, I wonder how Willis writes her comedic instalments. I have two theories:
a) she made a pact with a supernatural being and she's channeling the spirit of Feydeau, a French playwright whose plays go as fast as Usain Bolt set on a new Olympic record.
b) She writes a standard novel and then cut and edit and cut and edit again until the only remaining bits are pure diamonds of witty dialogues and fast pace.
I don't know which theory is right, but what's for sure is that Crosstalk is a highly successful science fiction comedy: it's very funny and the rhythm is so quick one has to wonder how come Briddey hasn't collapsed of a nervous breakdown considering she barely manages to have a quiet minute for herself.
The story is at heart a romantic comedy with science fiction twists and turns in it. Happily, it isn't boring, because the wit and relatable characters makes it highly readable whether romantic comedies are your cup of tea or not. So yes, it's quite light hearted but it comes with gripping scenes and it evades the dreaded (for me) genre of romance.
It's also a novel that's best read now. Willis refers to eHarmony, Apple, Netflix... All those references satirise a bit our technology world but may grow old fast. Nonetheless, it'd be a pity because the story itself has all the hallmarks of a timeless comedy in a solid scifi plot.
Crosstalk is To Say nothing of the dog little sibling but set in our era. So if you've enjoyed To Say nothing of the dog, you'll also enjoy this latest novel. It's also a definite must read for whoever likes a witty and fast paced science fiction comedy or for whoever needs a bit of harmless escapism.
The author's website.
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I only review stories I have liked even if my opinion may be nuanced. It doesn't apply for the "Novels published before 1978" series of blog posts.
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