All About Emily

This is the fourth short Connie Willis hardcover from Subterranean Press. I like the format — this one is a novelette, which is defined as between 7,500 and 17,500 words, shorter than a novella — since they make for clever concepts and light escapes without the reading time required for her novels. (All of which I’ve enjoyed, but I haven’t yet dared to commit to the combined 1,100 pages of Blackout and All Clear.)

As with the three previous Subterranean books — Inside Job, D.A., and All Seated on the Ground — I suspect this volume will go out of print and rise in price within a year or two. In tone and content, it’s most like the latter. All Seated on the Ground took a classic science fiction idea — aliens — and reinvented it with Willis’ strong, knowledgeable, human characterization; her love of pop culture; and an excellent sense of humor. However, of all her books, All About Emily reminded me most of Remake, Willis’ previous paean to classic Hollywood and the overwhelming devotion of a young lady who wants to be a dancer.

All About Emily is set in the near-future, narrated by a legendary Broadway actress. When she meets the young Emily, who has a near-encyclopedic knowledge of classic cinema and dreams of becoming a Rockette, the older woman fears that she’s going to relive All About Eve — but soon, she’s won over by Emily’s determination and willingness to do anything to become a dancer.

The portrait of the complicated ways an older and younger woman interact in the entertainment world is well-thought-out, and it’s pleasant to see a female mentor relationship in fiction, but I wish the story had gone on longer. I didn’t feel that the central conflict was really resolved, although the book ends on a marvelously heart-warming scene. Still, it’s an entertaining love letter to an American theater classic, made modern with a sci-fi twist.

One Response to “All About Emily”

  1. Barney Says:

    Not to mention that she will be named a Grand Master by the SFWA at the Nebula awards this spring.




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