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Impossible Things

Impossible Things [Kindle Edition]

Connie Willis
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Product Description

Product Description

Winner of six Nebula and two Hugo awards for her fiction, Connie Willis is acclaimed for her gifted imagination and bold invention. Here are eleven of her finest stories, surprising tales in which the impossible becomes real, the real becomes impossible, and strangeness lurks at every turn.

The end of the world comes not with a bang but a series of whimpers over many years in "The Last of the Winnebagos."

The terror of pain and dying gives birth to a startling truth about the nature of the stars, a principle known as the "Schwarzschild Radius."

In "Spice Pogrom," an outrageous colony in outer space becomes the setting for a screwball comedy of bizarre complications, mistaken identities, far-too-friendly aliens - and even true love.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 609 KB
  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Gateway (29 Mar 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00BY7GNA4
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #247,139 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Science fiction, but not as you might know it 7 July 2007
By Mr. Stuart Bruce TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
"Impossible Things" is the third Connie Willis book I've read and I've yet to find anybody else to writes in quite the same way. Willis is an award-winning science fiction writer, but really many of her stories are not *about* science fiction. Willis weaves innovative science fiction ideas into very personal and warm stories about people, jobs, relationships and romance. That way I've described it makes it sound a bit twee but Willis does it with a great balance that makes every story engaging, and funny.

This is science fiction with lots of heart, a bit of humour, a bit of time travel, and bite-sized chunks of techno-speak but very few giant alien spaceships.

A common theme in Willis' stories is bureaucracy taken to extremes, in which sense it is quite reminiscent of some of Douglas Adams' writing but in a much subtler way with fewer punchlines.

This is a collection of eleven stories, and as with most short story anthologies sadly not every one is a winner. Among the best are the captivating "Time Out", the bleak "Jack" (set in World War II), a fascinating new twist on the 'whatever happened to your old school friends?' question in "Chance", and the rampant run-around silliness of "Spice Pogrom". Unfortunately "Winter's Tale" is a bit of a failed homage to the Shakespeare 'conspiracy'.

Willis herself gives a very short introduction to each story, though sometimes these contain spoilers so you might be advised to read the stories first, then Willis' notes.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.1 out of 5 stars  30 reviews
29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterful short stories 17 Feb 2003
By Glen Engel Cox - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
A collection of stories by Connie Willis, one of the modern masters of the science fiction short.
"The Last of the Winnebagos" -- I remember reading this story years ago and not caring for it that much. Rereadiug it ten years later, I find it much more appealing. In one sense it is a mystery story; in another it is a cautionary tale. The way that Willis weaves together the two-- the tale of the dead dog and the new, authoritarian society--is fresh and clever. Sentimental? Yes. But in the best way.
"Even the Queen" -- One of my favorite stories, not just because it flirts with taboo, but because it is written with such an easy and joyous manner. Willis' comic stories are like those by Wodehouse--she is never content with a single gag, but can mix in wordplay, pop references, slapstick, and play off the old cliches in new and unpredictable ways.
"Schwarzchild Radius" -- Just so as you don't get the impression that I worship the paper that Willis types upon, I will gladly admit that I don't care for this particular story. I believe that this was one of the first stories in which she portrays a physics concept in characters and setting. Later on, in "Blued Moon" and "At the Rialto," the same method, when used with comedy, works to much better effect.
"Ado" -- One of the comedies that has not aged well, due partly to the backlash against "Political Correctness" of which this story was only a small part. There are parts that are still funny, like the running battle between the teacher and the sun worshipping student fought with Bible versus, but the end less litany of offended organizations goes stale about halfway through.
"Spice Pogrom" -- This is the kind of comedy that will never die; well, at least I hope it won't, because, like Willis, I am enamoured of the screwball as nothing else. Yes, it may seem as formulaic as any pulp adventure, but it has at its core some thing that no mere adventure story has, and that is a true sense of romance. We may want to be the Lone Ranger, but we know in our hearts that we can not ride Silver. On the other hand, with a little wit and luck, we are able to be romantic and silly--it is closer to us.
"Winter's Tale" -- One of the reasons Will is appeals to me so is that I share so many of her interests--screwballs, Wodehouse, and Shakespeare. Here the scholar in Willis truly shows, similar to her wonderful novel Doomsday Book. A great story and a history lesson--what more can you ask for?
"Chance" -- This is as close to a mainstream tale as you will ever see in a genre publication (it first appeared in Asimov's) but it is the kind of story that is popping up with more regularity in small-press literary and mainstream magazines.
"In the Late Cretacious" -- This is another one that did not age too well. Basically, it tries to put a comparison between academic competition and the evolution of dinosaurs, along with a running joke on parking. Bits are funny, but the whole is tired.
"Time Out" -- Another one in a similar vein, although in the end it feels more like "Space Pogrom" then "Ado." The comedy is present, but more organic--not relying so much on repetition, as it does character. And, while it is a story about time travel, it is also, and more importantly, a story about time.
"Jack" -- Another war story, but one that I was able to relate to. Loosely related to Dracula, this has some interesting points about war and its effect on people. Much more subtle than normal Willis fare.
"At the Rialto" -- I like this story. Of course I do--I'm a sucker for quantum physics--but even I have problems following the pattern and ideas here. In this case, Willis worked hard on her research. At least you can read it without understanding everything.
A very good collection on the whole, and definitely worth your time.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kleenex required 1 July 1999
By "hes2" - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
God, "The last of the Winnebagos" has to be the saddest story ever written. I hardly ever cry when I read books; during this one, I *wept*. I had to go shut myself in another room because it was embarassing in front of my family. If you undertake to read this, make sure you have ample privacy, a box of Kleenex, and your dog right beside you.
As to the other stories--Even the Queen is hilarious, and Ado is frighteningly possible. There's plenty here. I'm not going to discuss the rest of it 'cause I'm off to buy Connie Willis' other books!
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Connie Willis is one of the most surprising voices in SF 5 Oct 2001
By "sdixonsf" - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This will always be one of my favorite books, if only because of the presence of the wonderful "Last of the Winnebagoes." I remember I put off reading that story for a long time, assuming from the title it was an exploration of the decline of native Americans, and would not be light reading. Then I read it, and cried, and read it again, and cried. And quickly decided that it was one of my favorite stories of all time, regardless of genre. And it is a story about the decline of native Americans, but not the sort that are defined by ethnicity. And most of all, it is the most beautiful dog story I have ever read.
But the book has other gems. Even as a guy, I still found "Even the Queen" a brilliant little story (and I couldn't have been the only guy who thought so, since it won a Hugo award), despite being a story about three generations of women discussing ... Well, read the story. Like most of her stories, it seems lighthearted at first, then POW!
Spice Pogram is a pure madcap romp, full of puns, and misunderstandings, and coincidences, and missed meetings, and precocious children, and enigmatic (but charming) aliens. This will make you laugh out loud. (And if you really like it, you need to read "Blued Moon" in her first collection Fire Watch.)
Each of these stories alone would be reason to buy this book, but together, it's a must for any SF reader's bookshelf. And the other stories are excellent as well, especially "Jack" and "At the Rialto."
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars *Impossible Things* showcases Willis's unique voice 27 April 1998
By Scrivenera - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
In the introduction to her Hugo-award winning story "Even the Queen," Connie Willis condemns "literary demagoguery," arguing "[Shakespeare] wrote about Human Issues--fear and ambition and guilt and regret and love--the issues that trouble and delight all of us, women included. And the only ones I want to write about." In this second collection of her short fiction, she succeeds admirably in her objective.

Willis is gifted with one of the most original voices in science fiction, one that captures the elusive rhythms of screwball comedy (as in "Even the Queen" and "Spice Pogrom"), then just as deftly evokes melancholy or tragedy ("A Winter's Tale," "Chance"). And who but Willis would even attempt to write a story dealing simultaneously with evolution, academia, and parking tickets ("In the Late Cretaceous")? My favorite story in this compilation might be "Time Out," in which a down-to-earth housewife finds herself unexpectedly snared in a secret time-travel experiment, with hilarious results. Willis's light touch is one of her best assets in a genre that can often be overwhelmingly bleak and nihilistic. The humor can sometimes be a little too glib (as in "Ado," which deals with political correctness run amok in a high school English class), but, on the whole, the tone of *Impossible Things* is well-balanced between the comic and the tragic. Best of all, Willis has remembered one of the most important lessons in science fiction--that the distance between "possible" and "impossible" can be measured by a single phrase: What If?
13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Off the wall, except you never know where the wall is 18 Feb 1999
By A Customer - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Too many science fiction authors focus on novels. Admittedly they have to make a living. However, the length is artificial, and far too many authors become bogged down in the middle of a writing that is beyond its natural length. Connie Willis' short stories are as long as the story needs to be. So you don't feel she is writing to maintain an artificial length and thus damaging the story. I have yet to read any of her novels, but hope she found topics that would naturally carry that length. Connie is able to carry a dozen threads of possible stories through a single short story. Often you don't know where the real story lies until close to the end. Her writing is unpredictible. Whereas many science fiction writers wind up with long boring sections of "must be book length" stories, Connie does not. I would describe her writing as off the wall, but you never know where the wall is in her stories. The word "wonderful" comes to mind. Dave Clary
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