As with other Connie Willis novels, this is loosely scifi in that it’s cross-genre, but this one is particular is a non-scifi novella about two research scientists attempting to do science in the face of bureaucratic corporations and nitwit copy assistants. However, I can’t really imagine a scenario in which a large corporation supports a research project about the origination of cutting your hair short for a fad, so in that way, this may actually be a fictional portrayal of science.
Willis has a distinct ability to produce the comedy of errors. This book is fun, wry, and insightful, with a protagonist who checks books out of the library that no one else does just so they will stay on the shelves. Because it was written in the 1990s and is about fads, it is very obviously set in the 1990s, in a nostalgic way. And there’s cute sheep.
The story doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s ludicrous and it’s real. It’s funny but not really a comedy. It’s a love story without the romance. Recommended as a light read that’s also smart.
“Why do only the awful things become fads? I thought. Eye-rolling and Barbie and bread pudding. Why never chocolate cheesecake or thinking for yourself?”