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Bellwether by Connie Willis

Bellwether (original 1996; edition 1997)

by Connie Willis

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2,014763,331 (4)148
Authors:Connie Willis
Info:Spectra (1997), Mass Market Paperback, 247 pages
Collections:Your library, To read
Tags:fiction, science fiction

Work details

Bellwether by Connie Willis (1996)

  1. 42
    Doomsday Book by Connie Willis (Kichererbse)
  2. 10
    So Yesterday by Scott Westerfeld (mzonderm)
    mzonderm: Both books are interesting commentaries on how fads get started.
  3. 00
    PopCo by Scarlett Thomas (shelfoflisa)

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» See also 148 mentions

English (73)  German (1)  Dutch (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (76)
Showing 1-5 of 73 (next | show all)
A very different take on marketing and trends than the one presented in William Gibson's "Pattern Recognition!" Still, this book has some similarities: they're both non-sci-fi novels by authors known for their science fiction, and they both deal, thematically, with the human tendency toward ‘fads.' However, where Gibson's character Cayce has an almost psychic attunement to these trends, Willis' narrator is a much less glamorous, stressed-out researcher who's trying to understand how and why trends happen by attempting to track down the source of past fads. Plagued by the uniquely-fashionable but totally incompetent assistant, Flip (who is nearly the exact same character as ‘Bubbles' in Absolutely Fabulous [at least, I kept seeing her]), her work takes her through the maze of academic research institutions, bureaucratic red tape and illogical management, a mysteriously attractive scientist who seems to be immune to trends – to say nothing of the flock of sheep! ;-)
I didn't think this book was quite as good as either of the other Willis books I've read, but it was still definitely a fun and witty read. ( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
This definitely felt like a Connie Willis novel. However, it didn't have much of a plot. I liked it MUCH more once I finished it and saw how everything tied together, but getting there would have been a chore if it hadn't been such a short book. It was repetitive, the protagonist had a single-track mind about her research topic, and at times I wasn't sure if I was reading a novel or non-fiction.

It actually reminded me a lot of Willis' Passage, except missing whatever bit of heart that propelled Passage onto my 5-star list. ( )
  BrookeAshley | Sep 16, 2015 |
Such a fun light read! Full of cute characters, it zipped and zapped and then suddenly I was at the end. Very enjoyable. ( )
  pammab | Aug 8, 2015 |
When we think of science fiction, we usually have images of space travel, aliens, robots and the like. But fads? Can you imagine a sci-fi novel about the origins of fads? Well, Connie Willis could, and her light-hearted 1996 novel "Bellwether" is a true joy, something to delight even those who don't normally like science fiction.

HiTek wants to live up to its name, acting as sort of a corporate think tank for researchers in the hope that some of their projects will pay off for the company. Two obstacles keep getting in the way, however. One is management, which like management everywhere regards paperwork and meetings as the highest priorities, then wonders why employees aren't getting more work done. The other is Flip, whose job it is to deliver interdepartmental mail but seems to be involved in everything but that, including tying to get smoking banned on the premises. She takes packages to deliver elsewhere and loses them, destroys research materials she views as clutter and lobbies for an assistant because she's working too hard.

Against these obstacles, Sandra Foster tries to discover how the fad of bobbed hair started sweeping the nation after World War I and, for that matter, how any fads get started. Meanwhile, Bennett O'Reilly is doing research on chaos theory. Eventually, foiled by both Flip and management, they try pooling their efforts by studying sheep, who behave in chaotic ways, which also seem a lot like fads. This brings us to the book's title. A bellwether is a sheep, no smarter than any other sheep, that nevertheless almost imperceptively leads the herd.

After 20 years, the novel does seem a trifle dated. Sandra regards both smoking bans and tattoos as temporary fads,when passing years have shown they have staying power. Yet fads remain as seemingly chaotic and unexplainable as ever. Reading this book should have become a fad, but it didn't. How do you explain that? ( )
1 vote hardlyhardy | Apr 20, 2015 |
Only Humboldt (Nancy Pearl says it's a 'sweet intelligent love story')
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Apr 14, 2015 |
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Connie Willisprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Jensen, BruceCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Reading, KateNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Brothers, sisters, husbands, wives--
Follwed the Piper for their lives.
From street to street he piped advancing,
And step by step they followed dancing.
robert browning
To John
From Abigail

First words
It's almost impossible to pinpoint the beginning of a fad.
"Do you like po-mo pink?" I asked her.
She sighed. "It's the boss color for fall."
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0553562967, Mass Market Paperback)

A sociologist who studies fads and a chaos theorist are brought together by a strange misdelivered package. This book has all the wit and clever writing that characterized Willis' earlier Hugo and Nebula Award-winning Doomsday Book.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:06 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

A romantic comedy on two scientists using the chaos theory to predict fads in our society. They are Sandra and Bennet, working on the premise that a tiny action like the flap of a butterfly's wings in Arizona has an impact on the whole world, perhaps resulting in a hurricane in China. The couple's work on fad-diffusion produces comic as well as tragic results.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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