This is another genre-bending novel by Connie Willis. I haven’t actually read any of her longer or “more important” works, but now I’ve read three of the short ones. I am not sure I have a “sense” of her yet, but I am thinking that a few things she really likes is to challenge genre conventions, to slightly rail against the loss of something within modern culture, explore love and gender and sexuality in light ways, and to put people together in interesting climes.
In this novel, an alien planet is being explored by a crew of academics with the help of a genderless indigenous guide. This guide is a “company man” who fines them for the misdemeanors at any given time.
As new crew members show up and as the dynamics of the crew shift, the different characters start to realize that their various concerns are also shifting.
Again this novel feels interesting but ultimately kind of slight when it comes down to it. It’s only 150 pages and even though it’s more of a novella than a novel, it still feels like it doesn’t go much of anywhere. I like the writing and it’s pretty funny, but it’s not a fully fleshed out work. I think if this is were merely one part of a larger collection, like the long novella at the heart of a short story collection then it would work.
I will eventually get to more Connie Willis when it comes to it, but this feels like a blip on the radar for me.