All About Emily

All About Emily by Connie Willis

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One of the most important themes that science fiction comes back to, again and again, is what it means for man to make another living creature out of machine parts. Trust Connie Willis to explore that idea with a robot girl who dreams of becoming a Rockette.

Willis’s novels are brilliant for the encyclopedic knowledge she displays about the particular subject, and this time, it’s Broadway and the Rockettes. The novella has vivid and funny characters, good jokes, and a brilliant new take on what it means to be human, and what it means to make another person.

What does it mean to be human? It means to have wants, dreams, and desires. What does that mean for a robot? That when she starts dreaming of being a Rockette, she’s a person.

The best part of all Willis novels, the part that stands in common to them all and that makes her a true old-school scifi writer, is her essential optimism about humans. She seems to believe that we’re all basically decent. So no matter how serious and dark the story is, you can count on a hopeful ending.

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