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Remake, Connie Willis, Bantam Spectra, 1996 (c1994), ISBN 9780553574418, 140pp.

It takes Willis a long time to write a novel, due to the incredible amount of research that she does for them. Of course, this is also one of the reasons why they are so good. In the early 1990s, her editor had a brilliant idea–why not write shorter novels? Connie, in a rare fit of insanity, agreed. The idea was crazy because she does the same amount of research for a novella as for a novel. If there was a silver lining in this cloud, it is likely the increased amount of shelf space that Willis now takes up with seven different titles instead of four (I’m not counting her new book, nor the collaborations with Cynthia Felice).

There may be another silver lining in that we got three novellas that might otherwise not have existed, and it is a format that Connie excels at, and a format that, rarely, is as financially rewarding. This is the second of the three that I have read (I commented on Bellwether a couple of installments ago). It is not a screwball, per se, which is somewhat surprising given that it is about movies. It does, however, contain that signature Willis humor.

Tom is a poor student at the UNC film school, who has to moonlight as a film “editor” to pay his tuition. I have to put editor in quotes, because this is the future, where movies are not made but remade with digitized famous actors. Into this walks Alis, a “face” who confides to Tom that she wants to dance in the movies.

Like many of Connie’s stories, this one plays with the concept of time-travel, although the one-way trip into film nostalgia here is an unusual twist. If this was made into a film, the likely category it would fall into is romantic comedy, although comedy and tear-jerker aspects are there. Think of it as Willis’ Jerry Maguire.

[Finished 31 January 1998]


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