Lincoln's Dreams Analysis
by Connie Willis

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Lincoln's Dreams Analysis

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Connie Willis’ literary career prior to the publication of Lincoln’s Dreams consisted primarily of short stories, including the award-winning “Fire Watch” (1982), title story of her first short-story collection, published in 1985. She also coauthored two novels, Water Witch (1982) and Light Raid (1989), with Cynthia Felice.

Willis’ work ranges from the deadly serious to comedy. She works equally well in the short-story and novel formats. “At the Rialto,” a comedy about a quantum physics convention in Hollywood, shows Willis’ comedic touch, as does “Even the Queen,” a story about “women’s issues.” Her dramatic fiction is represented by the short stories “Chance” and “Jack,” the latter of which takes place during World War II, and the novel Doomsday Book (1992), set during the plague years in England. Lincoln’s Dreams was her first solo novel and won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award in 1988.

Willis has won numerous awards, for both short and long fiction. These include the Hugo and Nebula awards for best novelette with “Fire Watch,” the Hugo and Nebula awards for best novella with “Last of the Winnebagos,” and the 1990 Nebula Award for best novelette with “At the Rialto.” Doomsday Book won the Nebula Award for best novel in 1992 and tied with Vernor Vinge’s A Fire upon the Deep for the 1993 Hugo Award for best novel.

Time travel, on both the psychic and physical levels, is a reoccurring motif in Willis’ work. The short story “Fire Watch” and the novel Doomsday Book deal with physical time travel, via a machine, while Lincoln’s Dreams deals with the subject by having the traveler experience the past on a psychic level, through her dreams. Willis believes in the interconnectedness of time and in people’s ability to be influenced by the past. People ignore that influence at their own peril.

Another major theme in Willis’ serious work is the connection...

(The entire section is 479 words.)