Sunday, August 9, 2015

Bellwether

A sociologist studying the origin of fads. A scientist who studies chaos theory, whose funding for his macaque research has fallen through. A trendy but completely incompetent mail clerk who stirs up chaos, especially in her anti-smoking activism. Add in the complete works of Robert Browning, a joint experiment with really stupid sheep, and some now hopelessly dated discussion of 1990s coffeeshops, plus the fascinating histories of a number of historical fads. Connie Willis's Bellwether was tremendous fun, an expose of the daily frustrations of academic research. (Though it would have helped my reading experience if I'd known what a bellwether was when I started out.)

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