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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Opulent Collection of the Wild and Weird
This is an excellent collection of stories by one of today's premier writers of speculative fiction (I use the term advisedly as some of these stories cross the border from science fiction to fantasy and most unusual horror).
The opening story, "Fire Watch", really belongs in the same universe as her Doomsday Book and To Say Nothing of the Dog, dealing with a time...
Published on 23 May 2004 by Patrick Shepherd

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great title story; others in this volume disappoint
The first story in this collection shares its title with the book: "Fire Watch". That story may be the very best short science fiction work I have every read. Besides being a good story, there is depth to the ideas about history and life which go far beyond the plot.
Having had such a wonderful experience with the first story, I found myself sorely...
Published on 22 July 1998


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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Opulent Collection of the Wild and Weird, 23 May 2004
By 
Patrick Shepherd "hyperpat" (San Jose, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Fire Watch (Hardcover)
This is an excellent collection of stories by one of today's premier writers of speculative fiction (I use the term advisedly as some of these stories cross the border from science fiction to fantasy and most unusual horror).
The opening story, "Fire Watch", really belongs in the same universe as her Doomsday Book and To Say Nothing of the Dog, dealing with a time traveler in London during the Blitz. Very effective, with a well realized main character, it explores what the real purpose of life is under the pressure of either trying to change or preserve the past.
The best story here may be "All My Darling Daughters", which presents a boarding school of the future that will surprise and shock. Written in a futuristic teen slang that takes a little time to get used to (and is quite a departure from Willis' normal style), its investigation of sexual morals and abusive 'fathers' provides much food for thought. The story is strongly anti-male without crossing the line into being a feminist tract, with a fair dollop of Willis' trademark satire. Disturbing and all too believable.
"Sidon in the Mirror" is an odd combination of science fiction and horror. From a starting point of call-girl house located on the surface of a star, it travels an unusual road through murder, love, and true desires for death as it follows a being who, by nature, ends up becoming a 'copy' of someone in his close circle of acquaintances. Very different, but I did feel the ending was a little too pat.
"Samaritan" explores an area investigated by several others, such as Heinlein's "Jerry Was Man" and Orson Scott Card's Lovelock, about where the line should be drawn between animal and human. As usual, Connie brings her own viewpoint to this idea, and does so in quite an effective manner.
"Service for the Burial of the Dead" definitely crosses the line into fantasy/horror, but regardless of the genre, Willis knows how to write a tale that will engross and force the reader's participation - in this case, in a most spine-tingling manner.
"Mail Order Clone" deals with a man who orders a clone of himself from a magazine ad, and has a definite funny side as it explores gullibility, bureaucracies, and domestic relations.
"Daisy in the Sun" will take a bit of effort to follow, as for much of the early part of the story things do not seem to be very logical - in fact much of it feels very dreamlike, with a dream's lack of consistency. "A Letter from the Clearys", while well written, follows too closely to some by now clichéd ideas. "And Come from Miles Around" is too slight an idea to be really effective, but makes for a decent quiet read.
"Blued Moon" is, for my money, the weakest story in the book, dealing with happenstances of coincidence gone wild, under the influence of an artificial blue moon. Here I'm afraid Willis tried too hard for the slapstick and the crazy within her satirical outline, but this was the only story in the book that I thought really failed.
Overall, Willis demonstrates, in story after story, a great understanding of human nature, from its best attributes to its embarrassing foibles. She can be funny, poignant, ethereal, biting, demanding, and gritty, but she is always entertaining and worth reading.
Reviewed by Patrick Shepherd (hyperpat)
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful soft science fiction, real people, makes you think, 26 Oct 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Fire Watch (Mass Market Paperback)
Connie Willis is an amazingly diversified writer whose collection of short stories ranges from the near future/near past (Fire Watch; A Letter from the Clearys), somewhat more traditional science fiction (The Sidon in the Mirror), tales of human weakness and morality (I forget the title, but the story involves teenagers in a cross between an orphanage and a boarding school) that kept me thinking about it to for days. And just when you think all she can do is serious stuff, she comes up with one of the funniest stories I've ever read in an anthology (Blue Moon?). Well worth reading.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great title story; others in this volume disappoint, 22 July 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Fire Watch (Mass Market Paperback)
The first story in this collection shares its title with the book: "Fire Watch". That story may be the very best short science fiction work I have every read. Besides being a good story, there is depth to the ideas about history and life which go far beyond the plot.
Having had such a wonderful experience with the first story, I found myself sorely disappointed with the rest in the volume. The other stories struck me as very odd with much less depth. Most were so odd in fact, that I did not get anything else out of them.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An intriguing look at time travel., 27 April 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Fire Watch (Mass Market Paperback)
Connie Willis takes us back to a pivotal place in time during the Second World War, when Britain was being bombarded by Hitler's Blitz Krieg. Saint Paul's Cathedral, in the centre of London, was more than just a building, it was a symbol of Britain's fight against the Nazi threat. The novel revolves around the effort the main time travelling protagonist makes to keep the fire bombs from taking hold on the fabric of Christopher Wren's great architectural masterpiece. The theme of the plot sounds dry, but Connie Willis makes her characters live and breath on the page. Her love of history shines through as we discover that the time traveller is a graduate student from the future, returning to the past. All in all, a well told story that is hard to put down.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Glad this has been reprinted!, 7 Jan 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Fire Watch (Mass Market Paperback)
This wide-ranging story collection is THE gift I give to friends when they wonder aloud whether imaginative literature can BE literature; it's both "sf" and "terrific writing." If you have read Willis' other work, this is her FIRST collection; the story "Fire Watch" was written before _Doomsday Book_ and has the first appearance of Kivrin. In addition to the Hugo-winning stories ("FW," "Clearys") _FW_ has many other treasures. Not everyone likes them all; "Sidon" is the one I can't figure out, while "Lost & Found" is my favorite, a haunting, standout story.
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