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Bellwether | [Connie Willis]

Bellwether

Sandra Foster studies fads and their meanings for the HiTek corporation. Bennett O'Reilly works with monkey group behavior and chaos theory for the same company. When the two are thrust together due to a misdelivered package and a run of seemingly bad luck, they find a joint project in a flock of sheep. But a series of setbacks and disappointments arise before they are able to find answers to their questions - with the unintended help of the errant, forgetful, and careless office assistant Flip.
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Publisher's Summary

Pop culture, chaos theory, and matters of the heart collide in this unique novella from the Hugo and Nebula Award - winning author of Doomsday Book.

Sandra Foster studies fads and their meanings for the HiTek corporation. Bennett O'Reilly works with monkey group behavior and chaos theory for the same company. When the two are thrust together due to a misdelivered package and a run of seemingly bad luck, they find a joint project in a flock of sheep. But a series of setbacks and disappointments arise before they are able to find answers to their questions - with the unintended help of the errant, forgetful, and careless office assistant Flip.

©1996 Connie Willis; (P)2009 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Connie Willis deploys the apparatus of science fiction to illuminate character and relationships, and her writing is fresh, subtle and deeply moving." (New York Times Book Review)
"Willis's story builds slowly but is realistic and engrossing." (Midwest Book Review)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (483 )
5 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Overall
4.0 (232 )
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Story
4.2 (228 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Carol Concord, CA, United States 04-10-09
    Carol Concord, CA, United States 04-10-09 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    174
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    27
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    "Clarity and Chaos"

    In this funny, ain't-it-the-truth story, Connie Willis immerses the reader in the frustrations and chaos encountered by a likeable pair of researchers. Kate Reading's fine performance keeps events clear to the reader even when the characters are bewildered.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Thomas J. Hart Bethesda, MD, US 04-25-09
    Thomas J. Hart Bethesda, MD, US 04-25-09 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    22
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    "Willis Does it Again"

    Bellwether is a highly amusing riff on the same theme as William Gibson's "Pattern Recognition." Very witty. Willis is one of the very few science fiction writers with any sense of humor, yet alone a highly developed one.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pam United States 07-04-12
    Pam United States 07-04-12 Member Since 2007

    Science writer in America's heartland

    HELPFUL VOTES
    179
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    "Pattern Recognition" Meets "Office Space"

    Fans of William Gibson's "Pattern Recognition" will see a lot of similarity here, in that our heroine is working to understand the evolution of trends in human society. And fans of "Office Space" will see a lot of similarity between that movie's Initech company and our heroine's Hi-Tek laboratory. The blend is sometimes laugh-out-loud funny.

    Some Hi-Tek employees' names are allegories -- one incompetent assistant is named "Desiderata" and another "Flip" (for the frequent flip of her hair, or, as we learn later, maybe something else). The clueless laboratory director -- who falls for every new management fad that comes along -- is simply named "Management."

    Chapters begin with just a little background on the research topic at hand, and these entries make the book's science content accessible to a general audience. I gave it four stars because I thought that these introductory segments were at times a little too long or detailed. But all in all a good book, and I couldn't put it down -- had to listen to it in one sitting.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paula Cygnet, Australia 07-20-12
    Paula Cygnet, Australia 07-20-12 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Utterly delightful!"

    I'm a huge Connie Willis fan so, of course, I'm biased about all her books. And Bellwether, a slightly older title, did not disappoint. It was well-researched, entertaining, and kept me wanting more -- all with that special Connie Willis lightness of touch.

    The characters are delightful, I learned more about fads than I would have believed possible - and the ending was totally satisfying.

    I heartily recommend Bellwether!

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Allen Minneapolis, MN 08-16-09
    Michael Allen Minneapolis, MN 08-16-09 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Timely Office Satire"

    Even though this book is 12 years old, the story is still completely relevant - and hilarious - satire on office life. Even the issue of "second-secondhand smoke" is currently in the news (as "thirdhand smoke"). The idea that when Management returns from a seminar, it means "a new acronym, sensitivity training & more paperwork," certainly still holds true.

    I loved everything about this book, from the references to past fads, to the unfortunately-chosen acronyms, to the 42-page "simplified" forms. The narrator - Kate Reading - captures all the characters perfectly.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ruthann Salt Lake City, UT, United States 07-07-09
    Ruthann Salt Lake City, UT, United States 07-07-09 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Takes a bit, but turns out being great!"

    This was a delightfully quirky novel, that starts slow but makes up for it in the second half. The humor and unique characters made this book. Flip (the office clerk) and other crazy characters in the office made this book more tangible too. The description of past fads spread throughout the book were interesting and added to the story. The geeky love story wraps this book up for a little bit of everything from science to fiction to fashion. It is very enjoyable.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joan Dripping Springs, TX, United States 07-24-12
    Joan Dripping Springs, TX, United States 07-24-12 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Summer breeze"
    What made the experience of listening to Bellwether the most enjoyable?

    A friend and I listened to Bellwether while on a road trip, and this cheerful, breezy romance kept us laughing.


    What did you like best about this story?

    We liked the characters, especially Flip, the helplessly helpful administrative assistant, the humor, the way the story revolves around fads, and the skill with which the author developed the plot line of the book. It was a great vacation book - light, well constructed, and thoroughly enjoyable.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robin United States 05-22-12
    Robin United States 05-22-12 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
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    "Laugh out loud moments"
    Any additional comments?

    I was stopped in the grocery store and asked what I was listening to that had me grinning like a maniac. "Bellwether" takes a little while to get rolling, but the narrative voice is beautifully captured, and the ideosyncracies of the workplace, fads, and scientific discoveries enlivens a fairly straightforward storyline. Once the sheep were introduced, I found myself unable to unplug. As a sheep owner, I was similtaneously laughing and nodding over Sandy's and Ben's exploits with the ovine crowd. Brilliant fun and thought-provoking as well. Why do we embrace fads? How do they get started? Why is it that so many important scientific discoveries seem to happen by accident? What is the origin of the hoola hoop?

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Thea & Eric Seattle 04-29-12
    Thea & Eric Seattle 04-29-12 Member Since 2009

    Maia-Arts

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Laugh out loud"

    This is one of my all time favorites - and a book my husband and I share. It is intelligent as well as humorous. I suggest it for anyone as a fascinating and great entertainment.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Margaret Hove, United Kingdom 03-26-11
    Margaret Hove, United Kingdom 03-26-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
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    "Great fun"

    Connie Willis is a witty and perceptive writer and Bellwether manages to be many things - biting social commentary, a thriller, a romance, a comedy - and a great story, too. Some of the characters may be (by necessity) stereotypical, but they are multi-dimensional, believable, quirky and original stereotypes. This had me laughing out loud and this is as much due to Kate Reading's wonderful narration as to Connie Willis' writing. Although I guessed the ending, it was hugely enjoyable to observe the characters antics as the story unravelled. Highly recommended.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 37 results PREVIOUS124NEXT
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  • Catherine
    West Malling, United Kingdom
    12/28/12
    Overall
    "Unexpected find"

    I downloaded this book on a whim,looking for something different,and absolutely loved it.It is extremely funny( laugh out loud funny at many points).The whole concept of Sandra,the heroine,studying fads,and the regular snippets of information about this throughout the story,sounds strange but works brilliantly.So there is science,chaos theory,the quirks of the corporation where she works,mad office assistants,romance,sheep....all combined in an enjoyable and well-narrated package. Highly recommended.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Hazel
    Hitchin, United Kingdom
    5/29/12
    Overall
    "Best Listen This Year"

    This has been the most enjoyable book I've listened to. It is not science fiction but is set in a present day research company. The author's voice and the narrator mesh perfectly, and for anyone who has worked in the world of management the humour is sharply to the point. It's a book I shall return to more than once. I wouldn't have chosen this title but for a friend's recommendation.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Margaret
    Hove, East Sussex, United Kingdom
    3/26/11
    Overall
    "Great fun"

    Connie Willis is a witty and perceptive writer and Bellwether manages to be many things - biting social commentary, a thriller, a romance, a comedy - and a great story, too. Some of the characters may be (by necessity) stereotypical, but they are multi-dimensional, believable, quirky and original stereotypes. This had me laughing out loud and this is as much due to Kate Reading's wonderful narration as to Connie Willis' writing. Although I guessed the ending, it was hugely enjoyable to observe the characters antics as the story unravelled. Highly recommended.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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