Friday, November 04, 2005

50 Book Challenge #60: Inside Job

Connie Willis treads a fine line between the cooler prose style of a LeGuin or an Atwood and the wackier and more rollicking style of an Ellison. Her books often deal with time travel (see, e.g., Doomsday Book, an excellent bit of historical fiction with time travel that omits silly boinking interludes).

Inside Job has only a slight element of the fantastic. Set in modern Los Angeles, it centers around Rob, a professional skeptic and his former-starlet assistant, who typically spend their days debunking charlatans in the name of science and truth. They are faced with what appears to be the ghost of H.L. Mencken and the choice between acknowledging a real spirit manifestation or furthering the broader goal of discrediting irrational nonsense. Willis's solution to the dilemma was neat but to my mind ultimately unsatisfying. For a scientific type, Rob was remarkably incurious about the implications of a real spirit, beyond its effect on his mission as a skeptic.
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