Monday, October 29, 2007

D. A., by Connie Willis

D. A.
Connie Willis
Subterranean Press: 2007

One thing that I like about Subterranean Press is that they take short stories and novellas from certain talented authors and publish them in special limited edition volumes so that a shorter work that may only have appeared in Asimov’s or F&SF will be available to more readers than before. Like me. D. A. is an example of this. It was published in 2006 and is available as its own book. The story is on the short size for a standalone, 60 pages, but the sixty pages are collectively delightful.

Theodora Baumgarten has just been selected as an IASA space cadet, and therein lies the problem. She didn't apply for the ultra-coveted posting, and doesn't relish spending years aboard the ship to which she's been assigned.

But the plucky young heroine, in true Heinlein fashion, has no plans to go along with the program. Aided by her hacker best friend Kimkim, in a screwball comedy that has become Connie Wills' hallmark, Theodora will stop at nothing to uncover the conspiracy that has her shanghaied.

While I would question the “screwball comedy” label from the publisher, everything else is spot on and I think gives a good overview of what this story is about. But, what D. A. is about is less important than how it is told. Damn well, I should say. D. A. is a romp and between Theodora and Kimkim, our “plucky young heroine” has all the makings of a character who could headline a collection of stories or a novel set in this milieu. One can hope, but it could also be enough just to have a really good story left alone. The fact that Theodora absolutely does not want to join the IASA is what sets the story apart. Everyone wants it, but she doesn’t.

A wonderful, delightful story and if the opportunity arises – read it!

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