Thursday, March 15, 2007

Inside Job, by Connie Willis

Inside Job is the 2005 Hugo Award winning novella by Connie Willis. Inside Job is a modern day paranormal mystery story with a generous helping of pop culture, literature, and movie references.

Rob is a the publisher of a skeptic's magazine The Jaundiced Eye and a professional debunker. His job description is pretty much what it sounds like: he, and his staff of one, debunks claims of the paranormal. When his employee, more of a side kick, calls him about a new claim to debunk, Rob is brought into a mystery of the paranormal which might be more real than he could expect.

While other reviews and descriptions have given away details of the plot which could entice a reader, there is something to be said for letting the novella surprise the reader. Inside Job offers up a fun and sometimes silly story about skepticism, Hollywood, fake psychics and the literary tradition (yes, Willis weaves all of this together in fewer than one hundred pages). References to noted skeptic and reporter from the early 20th Century, H.L. Mencken abound and this adds to the narrative. More specifically, Inside Job is somewhat built around Mencken's ideas as each chapter opens with a Mencken quote.

Willis has written a fine, fun novella and without knowing what else was nominated for the Hugo that year, I can certainly see why Inside Job won. It's a good, fast, fulfilling read. The time investment is small, but now I want to read more of Connie Willis's work. That's the mark of a good book, no matter what the size.

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