Few purchases from Amazon have irritated me as much as Connie Willis’ Inside Job . The first irritation came when I pulled it out of the box. I hadn’t read the Amazon description closely enough, so I thought this was a real book. It’s not. It’s actually a hardcover novelette selling for a criminal $35 — only $25 after Amazon’s 30% discount, but $25 for a hundred-page story is still more than I’d like to pay for anything that’s not incredibly brilliant.

And “incredibly brilliant” is precisely how I’d fail to describe Willis’ little story. Willis’ biggest weakness is her smug preachiness, so you know it’s a bad sign when the main characters work at a skeptic’s magazine, the book focuses on debunking channelers, and every chapter begins with a quote from H.L. Mencken. It’s the perfect setting for a smugfest.

To be fair, Willis doesn’t take the smugness as far as she could — the story’s actually less irritating than I was expecting. But then, I was expecting something pretty damn irritating, so that’s not saying a whole lot. On the whole, this is worth reading, if you happen to come across it in a Year’s Best SF volume or something. But $35? If you don’t have a laminated membership card for the Connie Willis Fan Club, don’t even think about it.


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