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Crosstalk by Connie Willis


by Connie Willis

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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6535124,283 (3.72)61
One of science fiction's premiere humorists turns her eagle eye to the crushing societal implications of telepathy. In a not-too-distant future, a simple outpatient procedure that has been promised to increase empathy between romantic partners has become all the rage. So when Briddey Flannigan's fiancé proposes that he and Briddey undergo the procedure, she is delighted! Only the results aren't quite as expected. Instead of gaining an increased empathetic link with her fiancé Briddey finds herself hearing the actual thoughts of one of the nerdiest techs in her office. And that's the least of her problems.… (more)



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» See also 61 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 50 (next | show all)
This will now be one of my all-time favorite Willis novels. The characters are believable, (mostly) likable, and totally wonderful. The storyline is one of a kind, and fascinating to me. After it started getting really going, I had a difficult time staying away from it, in order to perform the most mundane of daily tasks. The twisty turns of the plot line were superb. And I am very sorry to see it end.
Seriously, if you haven’t read this novel already, please do. You might love it as much as I do!
Five huge stars, and highly recommended to all. ( )
  stephanie_M | Apr 30, 2020 |
I found the protagonist to be a bit annoying. The pacing was also too fast. It kept me reading but it would have been nice to take a breath or two at times. The ending was short and sweet. ( )
  MorganDax | Jan 28, 2020 |
To read more reviews in this series and others, check out keikii eats books!
I also wrote a piece comparing Crosstalk to Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson, here!

81 points, 4 ¼ stars


I have never in my life come across a book that felt loud before. This is an utterly new experience. I didn't even listen to the audiobook, I read it. One of the best things about Crosstalk was the setting in the early stages of the book. It felt like I was suffocating under a deluge of people. This is an introverts worst nightmare in book form.

Briddey is fun, but her family is utterly terrifying. She never has any peace. And her niece is the one I feel the most sorry for. Briddey's sister is the ultimate in helicopter parenting and is constantly looking to Briddey for support in her absolutely insane beliefs (what kid, who's favourite movie is Tangled, would join a terrorist organisation, you crazy fucking woman?!). Briddey mostly seems too swept up in the insanity that is her life and family to really realise what she is going through or look at herself through it all.

Or to look at her soon-to-be fiance. Trent is an ass. Beware the man named Trent, because that is never a good sign. I have no idea how Briddey puts up with him, or maybe he just does a better job before the book starts pretending to be a human and not an extension of his job. C.B., though? The malfunction with the EED is the best thing to happen to my week. C.B. is an absolute dream of a character to get to know. I need a C.B. of my very own.

The book starts when Briddey's to-be fiance Trent asks her to get an EED so he can "feel what she feels when he asks her to marry him." It goes wrong quickly when she wakes up after the procedure to implant the device, and finds that someone is talking in her head. Briddey is happy to find out that the device is working better than expected, after all telepathy is impossible. She is happy, that is, until she finds out that she isn't talking to her boyfriend. She is talking to one of her coworkers, who seems as astonished as she is to be able to hear her. Things only get more complicated from there.

The whole of Crosstalk is centered on how too much communication is bad. The main character, Briddey, her boyfriend, Trent, and her crosstalk, C.B. all work at a communication company that's main rival is Apple. Yet the message, again and again, is that too much communication can be a bad thing. That it has unintended consequences. The dual natures kind of annoyed me at times.

There were also a ton of information dumps. Every so often, the story would just stop to explain different things: the history of telepathy, technology, joan of arc. Honestly, it was a bit exhausting. Then there was all the information dumps on how to protect the mind from telepathy. It was overwhelming. There were so many "training sequences" that were so long it was astounding. I have no idea how time was supposed to function in this book, but there is no way everything that happened could have happened in the time allotted for those training sequences. Hell, I think the book only really covers about three days of time. Who needs sleep anyway, huh?

There were multiple moments throughout Crosstalk where I had to set the book down and self-reflect. While everything had a point and every event had a reason for existing in the book by the end of the event....during the event I had to just sit back and go "What the hell am I even reading? Why is this even happening?" There were a lot of illogical choices made and events happening.

However, I really enjoyed reading it. This scratched an itch I desperately needed scratched. I'm not certain I would read anything else by Connie Willis based off of what I read in Crosstalk, but I would definitely look for more books with this premise.

Maybe next time without the whole communication lesson.

( )
  keikii | Jan 23, 2020 |
Crosstalk is the "disturbance in a communication device's (radio, telephone, etc.) transmission caused by a second device's transmission, resulting in crossover, intermingling, and confusion". Briddey Finnegan works at Commspan a cellphone company that is in competition with Apple. She is dating Trent Worth who wants to have an EED done which is a brain surgery that connects the couple emotionally and allows them to feel what the other person feels. It's like a step before asking her to marry him which she is anxious to allow happen as he is perfect and they could get an apartment with a doorman that blocks out her family that keeps barging in on her life.

First, there's her great aunt Oona who talks with a fake Irish accent and belongs to the Daughters of Ireland and is hoping to find a "fine Irish lad" for her nieces. Then there's her sister Kathleen who dates losers and is always asking her opinion on her boyfriends. Then there's her sister Mary Kate who is overly worried about her nine-year-old daughter Maeve and believes that she is up to something when she is not. Then there's Maeve who is an expert in electronics and is exasperated by her mother.

Her family is against her getting the EED and so is C.B. Swartz the man at her job who creates the apps for the new phone. C.B. is an oddball who lives in the basement where there is no cellular service and doesn't own a cell phone. But Trent manages to get them in to see the top doctor who does EED's early and she tells no one that she is having one done. Once she has it done she calls out to Trent afterward and in her mind C.B. answers telepathically. It takes a while for her to believe that he didn't bug her room and that she is actually talking to him telepathically.

C.B. tells her that those with the pure Irish genes have the possibility of being telepathic. But C.B. is keeping something from her. And when she begins to hear more than his voice she freaks out because she can't keep the tidal wave of voices from overwhelming her and he rescues her. Soon Briddey finds herself falling for C.B. but wonders if he feels the same way. And then when she hears from Trent telepathically things really get complicated.

This is a wonderful book that you want to never end and it is very long so you almost get your wish. The characters are both loveable and hateable. And the quotes at the beginning of each chapter is perfect. This is an amazing book with a creative spin to it and I give it five out of five stars.


It is always the best policy to speak the truth, unless, of course, you are an exceptionally good liar.

-Jerome K. Jerome (The Liars’ Club)

But seemingly a lad with a kind heart isn’t good enough for her. It’s ‘compatiable’ he’s got to be. Compatible! ‘Kathleen’ I said to her, ‘if there aren’t times when you’re wantin’ to break his head in, then ‘tis not love you’re in, ‘tis only a romantic dream.’ You lasses shouldn’t be wantin’ a man who’s ‘compatible’, but one who’ll be there when you need him.

-Connie Willis (Crosstalk p 140)

Thankfully the rest of the world assumed that the Irish were crazy, a theory that the Irish themselves did nothing to debunk.

-Eoin Colfer (Artemis Foul)

Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them.

-Antoine de Saint Exupery (The Little Prince)

Three o’clock’s when every doubt and regret and guilty thought bubbles up out of your subconscious to plague you. “The dark night of the soul,” F. Scott Fitgerald called it.

-Connie Willis (Crosstalk p 348)

There’s nothing so bad that it couldn’t be worse.

-Irish Proverb

Those who have courage to love should have courage to suffer.

-Anotony Trollope (The Bertrams)

To be Irish is to know that in the end the world will break your heart.

-Daniel Parick Moynihan ( )
  nicolewbrown | Aug 26, 2019 |
It pains me to write this, but dnf.

Listen, I love Connie Willis. Her Oxford time travel series is fantastic. But she does tend to overuse certain tropes, and it gets a bit tiresome after a while.
  miri12 | May 31, 2019 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Connie Willisprimary authorall editionscalculated
Foster, JonCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"In Ireland the inevitable never happens
and the unexpected constantly occurs."

John Pentland Mahaffy
"In every crowd are certain persons who seem just like the rest, yet they bear amazing messages."

Antoine de St. Exupery, Night Flight
"Listen up."

Ghost Town
To the inimitable - and irreplaceable - Mary Stewart
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By the time Briddey pulled into the parking garage at Commspan there were forty-two text messages on her phone.
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