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All About Emily
Connie Willis
Subterranean Press, 96 pages

Connie Willis
Connie Willis was born in 1945 in Denver, Colorado. Her first SF publication was "The Secret of Santa Titicaca" published in Worlds of Fantasy, the Winter 1970-71 issue. For her first novel, she collaborated with Cynthia Felice on Water Witch. She has won Hugo and Nebula Awards for Fire Watch, "The Last of the Winnebagos," Doomsday Book and "Even the Queen," a Hugo Award for "Death on the Nile," and Nebula Awards for "A Letter for the Clearys" and "At the Rialto." To Say Nothing of the Dog has won the Hugo for Best Novel.

ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Blackout and All Clear
SF Site Review: Bellwether
SF Site Review: Promised Land
SF Site Review: Passage
SF Site Review: Miracle and Other Christmas Stories
SF Site Review: Nebula Awards 33
SF Site Review: To Say Nothing of the Dog
SF Site Review: To Say Nothing of the Dog
SF Site Review: To Say Nothing of the Dog

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Rich Horton

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All About Emily Connie Willis used to write regular Christmas stories, but she's been silent on that front for a few years -- presumably while working on her big diptych, Blackout / All Clear. So here she is again, with All About Emily. It's fairly typical for Willis, comic in tone with a huge nod to old movies and musicals, and with some real SFnal interest to boot. It's enjoyable enough, but slight.

The plot is fairly straightforward. Claire Havilland is an acclaimed actress, perhaps just a bit past her prime. Her agent inveigles her into an interview with the niece of the Grand Marshal of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade -- said niece is a huge fan of Claire and a bit stagestruck. The kicker is that the Grand Marshal is a famous roboticist, Dr. Oakes -- and his "niece" (unknown, at first, to Claire) is a robot -- or "artificial," which is the polite word.

Claire begins by assuming that the "niece," Emily, is after her job, much like Eve in All About Eve. But Emily has her own mind -- which is much of the point of the story. Emily wants to be a Rockette, but Dr. Oakes has different plans, mainly tied up in making more money. And so things rattle along, in Willis fashion, until we reach the beginning of the story, with Claire in the freezing rain outside Radio City Music Hall two days before Christmas.

Bottom line is, if you enjoy Connie Willis in her screwball mode, you'll enjoy this, though I don't think it ranks near her best "screwball" stories (like "Blued Moon" and "Spice Pogrom"). There's plenty of rapid dialogue, and plenty of references to old movies and musicals (with a few references to plausible future shows as well!) The SFnal theme, about the rights of created intelligent creatures, these "artificials," is worthwhile but not really handled with much depth or originality -- indeed, I felt the story really failed (perhaps didn't really want) to handle its core issues with the rigor they deserve. So, a minor work for Connie Willis -- nice to have, but nothing special.

Copyright © 2012 Rich Horton

Rich Horton is an eclectic reader in and out of the SF and fantasy genres. He's been reading SF since before the Golden Age (that is, since before he was 13). Born in Naperville, IL, he lives and works (as a Software Engineer for the proverbial Major Aerospace Company) in St. Louis area and is a regular contributor to Tangent. Stop by his website at http://www.sff.net/people/richard.horton.


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