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Crosstalk    by Connie Willis order for
by Connie Willis
Order:  USA  Can
Del Rey, 2016 (2016)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

In his review of Passages, my father wrote, 'Connie Willis is one of my favourite authors for good reasons, one being her astonishing range of interests. Her books have all been totally different and as unlike each other as they are unlike the stories of others.' I have to echo that sentiment in reviewing Crosstalk, in which the author does a fine job portraying the unintended consequences of telepathy, while having tons of fun with her characters - and modern communication.

Our heroine, Briddey, works at Commspan and is constantly bombarded by texts on her smartphone from fellow employees and her extended, meddling Irish American family. She is trying to avoid the latter as she knows they will disapprove of her plan to get an EED (relatively simple brain surgery that 'increases your ability to connect emotionally with your partner') with her soon to be fiancÚ Trent (who also works for Commspan). None of her family likes Trent, especially her great-aunt Oona who expects her to find a 'foine Irish lad' and keeps introducing her to unsuitable candidates.

Even eccentric genius C.B. Schwartz, who lurks in his sub-basement lab and doesn't use a phone, argues against the procedure, but Briddey goes ahead - and, of course, there are unintended consequences. Suddenly, she can hear C.B.'s thoughts and he can hear hers. Briddey decides to keep this from Trent (with whom she has no connection yet) until she can figure out a solution. But she starts to hear more and more crosstalk until she's hit by a telepathy tsunami - and only C.B. can help. How does he assist her? He takes her to a library - 'Never underestimate the power of good book.'

Briddey's life gets increasingly complicated and her problems multiply, while she gradually discovers what Trent really intended to achieve with the EED, and becomes determined to protect her precocious niece from what might follow. Crosstalk offers a wonderful blend of thought provoking SF, romance, and a hilarious commentary on the constantly interrupted life that's the result of modern communication. Highly recommended!

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