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Bellwether by Connie Willis

Bellwether (original 1996; edition 1997)

by Connie Willis

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,050833,250 (4)154
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 154 mentions

English (78)  German (1)  Dutch (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (81)
Showing 1-5 of 78 (next | show all)
Only Humboldt (Nancy Pearl says it's a 'sweet intelligent love story')
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 5, 2016 |
Bellweather - Connie Willis
audio performance by Kate Reading

4 stars

Chaos theory, popular culture and romantic comedy; shaken, not stirred. This was a fun book.
Sandra Foster is studying fads to determine how they begin. This allows the author to preface each brief chapter with fun historical fad facts. Bennett O’Reilly is a chaos theorist investigating group behavior in monkeys, until he loses his funding. ( Sheep, it seems, are cheaper.) Both of these eager scientists work within the Dilbertian confines of the corporation, HiTek. Anyone who has ever suffered through inane staff development meetings will appreciate this one. I laughed out loud. And unlike Connie Willis’ longer books, this one did not annoy me with unnecessary repetition. Kate Reading did a great job of delivering the satire and the slapstick comedy.
( )
  msjudy | May 30, 2016 |
Willis is quickly becoming one of my favorites- consistently clever, adept at the same sort of sneaky set-ups that remind me of Pratchett at his best, intricately yet unobtrusive plotting. This one was fun, quick, perfect vacation reading. ( )
  Suzi.Rogers.Gruber | May 3, 2016 |
Willis' apt observations of fads, crowds, and group behavior were spot-on. I laughed so hard I almost wet myself. Then I felt a little guilty because I was being snobby and feeling superior to all those "sheep" who follow fads. Then I laughed at myself because I am guilty of following fads, too (Rachel haircut, anyone?). Hilarious. ( )
  memccauley6 | May 3, 2016 |
This was given to me eons ago because of how much I love To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis. This book has a similar sense of humor that definitely kept me entertained but the plot and backstory that ties it all together didn’t hit quite the same loved it nerve with me.

I loved seeing a book set in the mountain range area of the country (Colorado to be precise). I feel like this doesn’t happen often enough in books. I also found there was a real nostalgia quality to the book because it was first published in 1996 and set in its own time-period, so the whole thing just screamed 90s nostalgia to me. This played in well to Sandra’s fad studies. It gave the book a good reason to notice and talk about the fads, and this held up well over time. What originally was a “oh look at this silly thing people are doing right now” became “hey remember when West Coast coffee was first a thing?” I also really appreciated that a social science was featured at the core of a scifi book. Not just that but a scientist of a science deemed more important and sciencey (chaos theory) ends up working with her and respecting her research and its methods. Super cool.

While I thought the research study was cool, I wasn’t as huge of a fan of the competition to receive the grant of a lifetime plot. I appreciated Sandra working to save her job, but the big grant loomed overhead from the very beginning like a deus ex machina. Sandra’s disdain for her coworkers wanting to ban smoking from the building as a fad really didn’t translate well over time. This wasn’t a fad; it was a public health policy, and it rubbed me wrong every time Sandra implied it was like the whole are eggs good or bad for you debate. Second-hand smoke is just bad for you, and unlike a coworker eating an egg, it can actually impact your health if you’re around it. I’m sure it was funnier in the 90s but it didn’t work so well now, and it honestly made me dislike Sandra a bit.

Overall, scifi fans looking for a humorous plot with a female lead, an unusual focus on the social sciences with a dash of 1990s nostalgia will enjoy this book.

Check out my full review. (Link will be live May 9, 2016).

*initial thoughts*
It was fun but no To Say Nothing of the Dog. ( )
  gaialover | Apr 30, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 78 (next | show all)
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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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