Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Review of Connie Willis's Crosstalk

Almost two years ago, I attended a panel discussion at MileHiCon in Denver about animated movies in speculative fiction. I picked up a lot of good suggestions for my Netflix list, but was a bit surprised when Colorado author and SFWA
Grand Master Connie Willis said her favorite was "Tangled."

"That's mine too!" I exclaimed (under my breath).

Ah, at last I know why Connie singled out "Tangled."

Her new science fiction novel, Crosstalk, explores what it might be like if we could read each others' thoughts--or at least some of us could.

Beautiful red-haired Briddie works for a company that is competing with Apple to develop the next breakthrough phone device. She works hard, fielding constant interruptions from her large but lovable Irish family. She is beginning to despair of ever keeping any secrets to herself, including the fact that she is practically engaged to her boyfriend, when C.B. Schwartz, the freakshow nerd from the company basement, steps into her thoughts.

It's a roller coaster ride from there, as Briddie and Schwartz try to hide their telepathic connection from the boyfriend and the relatives, who, it turns out, really do have the Sight. We learn that the boyfriend is a cad, and that Briddie's nine-year-old niece Maeve is also telepathic. She's been blocking other family members from finding out she watches zombie movies, to say nothing of her all-time favorite, "Tangled."

Willis is a master at getting her characters in and out of farcical situations, and the pace of Crosstalk is breathtaking. It's a story of dramatic reversals (romance-wise), with a dash of Irish genealogy thrown in for good measure.

As the song says, "you can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you might get what you need." In Crosstalk, Briddie finds that mental telepathy works that way. Just as in "Tangled," she finds it's possible to fall hopelessly in love despite your best efforts.

Crosstalk is available on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00WPQ98JG.


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