Why is Connie Willis considered a science fiction writer? Is it just because she wrote about time travel that one time? I haven’t read a ton of her stuff (I did read the time travel one), but I don’t quite get it. This book is fine and fun, but not science fiction at all, even though the cover says “One of science fiction’s best writers.”
Sandra is a scientist at a corporate-America type research institute that reminded me a little of Veridian Dynamics.
She’s looking into what causes fads, and the company is hoping her research will help them make more money (they’re seeing visions of churning out the next hula hoop or fidget spinner). There’s a department assistant who doesn’t assist (we’ve all known more than one of those, I’m sure) named Flip. Flip is an agent of chaos, refusing to do her job and making everyone else’s job more difficult. A mis-delivered package leads to Sandra meeting Bennett, a scientist in a different department who is studying chaos in stable systems. Discussions of various variables lead to them working together to withstand corporate nonsense and Flip’s incompetence.
There’s not a ton of plot. There’s lots of talk of research, and grants and awards, and the knife-edge of working under the threat of always losing your funding. Sandra can’t turn her fad-watching off, even when she’s on a date or at a coffee shop. Her observations are clever, the corporate nonsense is fun in a groany, familiar way, and it’s easy to root for all these plucky scientists. It’s a pleasant read, and I enjoyed it, but I still don’t understand why it was in the sci-fi section.