Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Winds of Marble Arch and Other Stories by Connie Willis - Novella Review

BookThe Winds of Marble Arch and Other Stories
AuthorConnie Willis
Genre: Short Stories, Sci-Fi 
Publisher/Publish DateSubterranean Press / 2007
Source: Public Library
Pages: 700
Rating: 3.5/5
GoodReads  •  Amazon

While I rarely read short stories, I was recommended this author on a podcast I listen to, Books On The Nightstand, which I would recommend to anyone who loves books. The hosts have dubbed 2013 "The Year of the Short Story" and have been recommending a story or two each week. Their review of Connie Willis "Fire Watch" intrigued me and I decided to check out a collection of her stories from the library. This book is 700 pages! And contains 23 stories, so I decided not to over due it but read and review four stories that were highlighted on the dust jacket. A celebrated Science Fiction writer who has won many awards, Willis has been called, "the most relentlessly delightful science fiction writer alive."

As many of her novels plop you right down in the middle of the world she's created,  and it takes a few pages, or until the end to discover what really is going on, there may be some spoilers in the following reviews.

A Letter from the Clearys
Located miles and miles from anyone, Lynn lives with her over protective parents and a family friend, Mrs. Talbot. On a trip to the post office to pick up some magazines, she discovers a letter from the Clearys. As the story continues we discover there was some sort of large explosion that wiped out most of the population, and possibly the Clearys who were supposed to be visiting them at the time it happened. They now live in fear or looters.

This novela, like many of the others, focuses on the characters and the details of their life, which in turn allows us to discover the nature of the world they are living in.

Fire Watch
This novela in particular was recommended by the podcast I mentioned above. In the world this story is set in, historians travel in time. They seem to travel to record date about specific events, i.e. number of deaths and certain dates, but I questions that their presence there would possibly change history.

Mr Bartholomew is tasked with traveling to London in 1940, during the Blitz, with little advance warning and little time to train. While he seems unsure about what his task is exactly, he is sent to the church St Paul's to be part of the fire watch, and spends three months helping put out the bombs that land on the roof.

Willis is skilled at creating a universe with it's own vocabulary and way of life, which I really enjoyed in this story.

Check back on Friday for reviews of two more novellas from this collection.

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If you have reviewed this book, please leave a link to the review in the comments and I will add your review to the main post. All I ask is for you to do the same to mine — thanks!

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