Connie Willis

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FictionMuse
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Connie Willis

Postby FictionMuse » Sat Jan 14, 2012 8:10 am

Type “Connie Willis” into Google and search result #15 is a critique of her work by Andrew Hickey. He says, “My post about how bad Connie Willis' writing is has become one of my most popular pieces.” So apparently his site is getting a lot of traffic. Type “Connie Willis” “Andrew Hickey” into Google and search result headline #1 is “May Be the Worst Writer in Existence” and #5 is “Bland, Bad, Popular.” His advice to writers: “Just read Blackout/All Clear by Connie Willis, do the exact opposite of what she does, and you will have the greatest work in the history of English literature.”

Strange Horizons quotes these particularly vicious comments: “On the evidence of this utter, appalling, piece of [deleted], this travesty, this disgrace that makes Dan Brown look like a more elegant and refined version of F. Scott Fitzgerald, I can only assume that she has incriminating photos of the head of publishing at Spectra, her publishers, and of the people who choose the Hugo shortlists. In which case, I can only say to let her release the photos – they could hardly do more damage to your reputations than these books do.”

He has written a book entitled, “Sci Ence! Justice Leak!” Amazon’s description: “What do Batman, Doctor Who, quantum physics, Oscar Wilde, liberalism, the second law of thermodynamics, Harry Potter fanfic, postmodernism, and Superman have in common? If your answer to that was “Nothing” then… well, you’re probably right. But in this book, Andrew Hickey will try to convince you otherwise. In doing so he’ll take you through: How to escape from a black hole and when you might not want to, The scientist who thinks he’s proved the existence of heaven and what that has to do with Batman, What to do if you discover you’re a comic-book character, Whether killing your own grandfather is really a bad idea and how to escape from The Life Trap! An examination of the comics of Grant Morrison, Alan Moore and Jack Kirby, Doctor Who spin-off media, and how we tell stories to each other. Sci-Ence! Justice Leak! tells you to look around you and say: This is an imaginary universe… Aren’t they all?”

He describes his work: “The other books I write (like Sci-Ence! Justice Leak!, Four Stories About The Singularity and my upcoming examination of Grant Morrison's Seven Soldiers) are about the playful exploration of ideas. They're often using criticism of comics, books or TV as a starting point, but the books are as much about the nature of consciousness, or cybernetics, or Liberal politics as they are about Batman or Doctor Who.”

Turns out all his work is self published. Smashwords, EBookstore, Lulu. His Amazon Z ranking is not impressive either.

However: His commentary and fiction have been favorably reviewed in Digital Book Review, Free Writer, and Fiction Paradox. His commentary on science fiction, “Sci Ence! Just Leak!” received a serious, lengthy review in Fiction Paradox.

My concern is that he will attack other authors. Another concern is that he might get on with Locus or Tangent, get a much wider audience, and even develop a following. The second concern might be premature at this point. He might turn out to be a shooting star. But all factors indicate he has every intention of establishing his place in the science fiction community, as author and as critic.

Surveying the Hugo/Nebula awards/nominations, I saw the same 2 names over and over: Mike Resnick and Connie Willis. I’m up on Resnick’s work. I’m not up on Willis’ work. Although I did read “All About Emily” in Asimov’s. That’s what got me interested in her. First noticing the awards record, then enjoying one of her stories. Far from bland. Delightful and mesmerizing. I’m reading “Firewatch,” the short story that is the basis her other time travel stories.

I’m in China, where they sell very few English magazines and none of them science fiction. Same goes for recent science fiction books. All the websites with Andrew Hickey’s full comments on Connie Willis’ work are not accessible from here.

I need someone to send me an excerpt of “Blackout/All Clear” (her recent time travel novels) and the full text of anything Hickey has written about Willis.

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Martin L. Shoemaker
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Re: Connie Willis

Postby Martin L. Shoemaker » Sat Jan 14, 2012 8:35 am

Two years from now, people will still be reading Connie Willis's books.

Two years from now, people will say, "Andrew who?"

Just my opinion.
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Re: Connie Willis

Postby ThomasKCarpenter » Sat Jan 14, 2012 9:59 am

I've only read "All About Emily" as well, but even from that small sample I can tell she's an amazing writer. Trolls will be trolls. The world will never be rid of them. I just shrug and move on.
Last edited by ThomasKCarpenter on Sat Jan 14, 2012 1:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Martin L. Shoemaker
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Re: Connie Willis

Postby Martin L. Shoemaker » Sat Jan 14, 2012 11:27 am

"All About Emily" actually pissed me off. It's just not right that a light, throw-away holiday fluff piece should turn into a biting satire and then wrap up with such an emotionally gripping ending. It's not fair that Connie Willis can write so well. It's not fair, I tell you!

Andrew who?
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Re: Connie Willis

Postby s_c_baker » Sat Jan 14, 2012 4:31 pm

Reading the comments on the blog, Mr. Hickey doesn't seem to be quite as troll-ish as he does on first blush. Most of his criticisms are acceptable enough (getting research wrong, the plot being plotless), although of course I haven't read the book in question.

In other words: I don't think it's necessarily a case of someone bashing an established writer just because he's not an established writer. It just looks that way.

Most of the commenters on the blog who have read it seem to agree, for whatever that's worth (probably not much--saner people will have just left).

It seems (again, I haven't read it) SEEMS like Willis just wrote a novel that wasn't up to her usual excellence. That can happen. It's happened with Steven King, for sure. It's also happened with Iain Banks (anybody read Matter? Argh!) Ratings on amazon are also mixed--even discounting the people bitching about how it's only half the book.

I'll mail over the text of the pieces, and an excerpt of the book if I can find it, FM. :)

And of course, none of this excuses the tone of Hickey's blog piece. Hickey's attacking the writer, not the writing, and that is not cool.

ETA: I can't find a selectable excerpt of the book on the 'net. I'll see if I can use my other SIKRIT sources later on.
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Re: Connie Willis

Postby FictionMuse » Sat Jan 14, 2012 8:23 pm

Baker, Got 2 messages from you. Will read them after lunch, Muse.

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Re: Connie Willis

Postby Grayson Morris » Sun Jan 15, 2012 1:31 am

I always assume someone who voraciously attacks someone else in an "and the kitchen sink, too!" way has some personal beef with them that has nothing to do with the ostensible "problem."
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Brad R. Torgersen
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Re: Connie Willis

Postby Brad R. Torgersen » Mon Jan 16, 2012 9:14 am

It seems inevitable that once a writer rises above a certain level, in terms of prestige and/or popularity, haters will crawl from the woodwork.

Several of the WOTF judges have detractors. Kevin J. Anderson's are far and away the worst.

We should all aspire to such notoriety. wotf013
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Re: Connie Willis

Postby morshana » Mon Jan 16, 2012 9:28 am

Brad R. Torgersen wrote:It seems inevitable that once a writer rises above a certain level, in terms of prestige and/or popularity, haters will crawl from the woodwork.

Several of the WOTF judges have detractors. Kevin J. Anderson's are far and away the worst.

We should all aspire to such notoriety. wotf013


LOL wotf024
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kyle
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Re: Connie Willis

Postby kyle » Mon Jan 16, 2012 11:24 am

And for those who haven't heard, Connie Willis has just been named the new SFWA Grand Master.

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Re: Connie Willis

Postby s_c_baker » Mon Jan 16, 2012 12:55 pm

kyle wrote:And for those who haven't heard, Connie Willis has just been named the new SFWA Grand Master.

I wonder what whatsisname has to say about that... wotf001
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Re: Connie Willis

Postby Brad R. Torgersen » Mon Jan 16, 2012 4:09 pm

Well deserved, on Connie's part.

I think the best thing any of us can say about someone's writing, when they've reached Connie's level, and the work is not to our taste is that... it's not to our taste.

Dean Wesley Smith taught me that lesson a few years ago, when I was mouthing off about how some bestseller or other sucked eggs, and Dean (digitally) slapped me and said, "Son, you're in no position to be talking that kind of smack. You don't have to like his/her books, but saying so-and-so is a crappy writer is not a judgment you're equipped to make. Now move along, and get back to work."

I took that to heart, and it's a lesson which has served me well since.

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Re: Connie Willis

Postby kyle » Mon Jan 16, 2012 6:22 pm

Amen, Brad!

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Re: Connie Willis

Postby Mike Resnick » Mon Aug 06, 2012 9:27 am

If you have any degree of success, you're going to acqure your share of nasty critics. I have a lady in Israel who loathes everything I've written, says so at length and in detail on her blog, and feels I am the single worst writer in the history of science fiction.

I -could- point to 7 shelves of my books and my trophy room and ask what she's done with -her- life, but that smacks of bitterness. Instead, every year I write her a letter apologizing for making the Hugo ballot again. wotf008

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