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.
"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)
Apparently I am nearly alone in my dislike of this book. I found the protagonist preachy and superior. It droned on and on about how wonderful it was to dodge the sheeple mentality... I guess I just couldn't connect with any of the characters. It was hardly the quality of satire that Office Space attained- in fact it was barely recognizable as satire at all.
I recognize the irony of me going against the crowd on this one, I promise.
I'm addicted to Audible. A new grandma I am responsible for my grandsons library, which reignited my interest in books.
Its like the knock knock joke about the banana, until they finally say orange. The story is great at first and the characters seem like they will be interesting but it becomes a broken record, the characters are very one dimensional and what was funny in the beginning is becoming tedious as I continue to listen. Two thirds of the way in I realized there seem to be no story, or climax are anything interesting beyond the beginning fascination with learning about new characters. I had high hopes after having numerous disappointments. But alas it was another let down.
Science writer in America's heartland
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.
I have really enjoyed several of Connie Willis' books, but this one was just painful. Interesting tidbits on scientific discoveries and societal trends, but the story was very slow and pretty weak. I do have to congratulate Ms Willis for her imagination and detailed research, although I recommend Doomsday Book and To Say Nothing of the Dog. Stay away from this one.
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?
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.
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.
Not very sophisticated, but a fun read, especially for those of us who have worked in academic or lab settings and done research.
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.
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.
"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.
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.
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