Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Bellwether by Connie Willis

Bellwether (original 1996; edition 1997)

by Connie Willis

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,947733,501 (4.01)135
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)

Recently added byrcganz, private library, Lunytoucan, ginger.hewitt, TerriBooks
  1. 32
    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)

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 135 mentions

English (71)  German (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (73)
Showing 1-5 of 71 (next | show all)
Bellwether is a whimsical, good-natured fairy tale for scientists. It's a fast read, easy to devour in a day. I found Ms. Willis' sense of humour charming and her characters very entertaining. I highly recommend it, especially if you need a pick-me up after a crappy day or depressing book. ( )
  Xandylion | Jan 19, 2015 |
Willis catches the ridiculousness that is academic/bureaucratic scientific businesses perfectly. The never ending flows of required paperwork which no one can figure out how to fill out. The inept employees who think their mistake is someone else's mistake (yours, in point of fact). The scientists who just want to do their research. It's all here and it's painfully funny. ( )
  AuntieClio | Sep 8, 2014 |
The audible book is beautifully read. A lite and uplifting story. ( )
  travelster | Sep 3, 2014 |
enjoyable send-up of corporate science, red tape, 20-something do-little fad-followers. Sweet romance. Not science fiction ( )
  DavidO1103 | Aug 25, 2014 |
[This is an old review. I had thought I already had it cross-posted, but I couldn't find it. For once, I had a rating listed in my records and didn't have to guess at one.]

It's been almost three years since I last read a book by Connie Willis – I had forgotten how enjoyable her writing can be.

As I was writing my synopsis and trying to avoid spoilers, I realized how little actually happened in this book. There was a lot of HiTek workplace drama, and frequent breaks in the story allowed for brief histories of fads (such as dance marathons, hair wreaths, hair bobbing, and Rubik's Cubes – sometimes I Googled the more bizarre ones, just to see if Willis was making stuff up). There were also a lot of moments dealing with Sandra's fascination with Bennett's apparent immunity against fads, which I could immediately see would develop into a romance, despite the existence of Sandra's rancher boyfriend. I found all these little things fascinating, which was good, because they all added up in the end.

I'm actually kind of surprised this worked so well for me as work-time listening, because there really were so many little things I needed to keep track of that didn't necessarily know I needed to keep track of. I think perhaps the repetition of certain details helped. Romantic Bride Barbie came up a lot, as did the color of people's clothing, duct tape, etc.

One of my minor complaints about this book is that I figured out the answers to some of Sandra's questions long before she did, probably because of all that repetition, so I spent much of the book saying, “I can't believe you don't remember that that color came up before. Think. The answer is right there, you've practically worked it out for yourself already.” My annoyance increased as the book neared its end and it started to seem like Sandra was being willfully dense. Still, there was more that I enjoyed than didn't enjoy, so I was willing to write off her denseness as the result of being too close to all of the data.

Although my job isn't tenure-track and I therefore don't have to worry about research and finding funding for that research, I could still sympathize with the things Sandra, Bennett, and the others had to go through while simultaneously dealing with management and Flip. At times, it was a little like reading a Dilbert comic in novel form. One of Sandra's friends gave her advice on how to survive staff meetings and convince management to agree to let her and Bennett work together. Management didn't seem to understand anything but management buzzwords, and most of the assistants at HiTek were  completely incompetent and still managed to believe they were vital to the company.

The book occasionally got my back up a bit, because of the way those who follow fads were presented (as idiotic sheep), and some might take similar issue with most of the assistant characters (not just Flip and Desiderata, but also various waiters, cashiers, and more). There was a slightly insulting feeling to all of that. I ended up deciding that Willis had just taken situations and people that exist in real life and ramped them up a few notches, to create a world almost entirely made up of people who felt put upon when others asked them to do their jobs and people who followed fads only because everyone else was following them.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and need to see about reading more of Willis' works. So far, the only other ones I've read are To Say Nothing of the Dog and Remake. I like her sense of humor, and I enjoyed the slight romance in Bellwether. I loved the “must be scientifically compatible” line, as well as all the other explanations for why Bennett had done things that made Sandra think he was interested in someone else. As far as this audio version goes, I thought Kate Reading did an excellent job.

A few additional comments:

I know nothing about sheep. While listening to the last disc or two, I couldn't help but wonder, are sheep really that stupid?

Also, Sandra's final graphs, incorporating everything that had happened around her and everything that a particular character had done: how would one even do that? And wouldn't it have taken hours, days, or even weeks?

(Original review, with read-alikes, posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.) ( )
1 vote Familiar_Diversions | Jun 7, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 71 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review

» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Connie Willisprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Jensen, BruceCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Reading, KateNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
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."
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Haiku summary

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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:27:02 -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)

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
88 wanted1 pay4 pay

Popular covers


Average: (4.01)
1 3
1.5 2
2 20
2.5 6
3 128
3.5 48
4 221
4.5 47
5 195


2 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

See editions

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 96,154,746 books! | Top bar: Always visible