BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Theodora Baumgarten is erroneously enrolled as an IASA space cadet and subsequently tries to find out why.
PROS: Fast-moving story; Willis’ writing style is thoroughly engaging and highly entertaining.
CONS: Somewhat predictable, especially for fans of Heinlein’s juveniles, to which this story pays homage.
BOTTOM LINE: An excellent novella.
In Connie Willis’ novella, D.A., Theodora Baumgarten is enrolled as an IASA space cadet and is quickly whisked away to the Academy space station, named the RAH after Robert A. Heinlein. (No coincidence – this story is overtly Heinleinian, which is good because it gives me two chances to say “Heinleinian”.) While Theodora’s appointment is considered a great honor by her friends, family and fellow students, all of whom would love to be in Theodora’s space shoes, there is a problem: Theodora never actually enrolled in the IASA. With the help of her Earthside hacker friend, Kimkim, Theodora sets out to find out how she could possibly come to be signed up in the IASA.
Reading D.A. is like a getting a shot of Heinlein injected directly into the bloodstream. Actually, it’s like Heinlein on speed because the story mimics themes in his juvenile novels – a young person overcoming obstacles by using ingenuity and intellect – and moves incredibly fast. Willis’ engaging plot and her highly entertaining prose make the Lucy Ricardo circumstances surrounding Theodora’s enlistment sing with in the tune of classic science fiction parody. Even though there are no real surprises for the Heinlein fan, watching her as she tries to figure out what the heck is going on is just plain fun.