Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Inside Job

42. Inside Job, by Connie Willis

Rob is a professional skeptic. He makes a living debunking psychics, channelers, mediums and other frauds. One day, his employee, Kildy Ross, urges him to go see Auriaura Keller, who channels a spirit named "Isus", but she won't tell him what's so different about this woman. They go, and, what a surprise! In the midst of the usual New Age b.s. from this so-called spirit, a second voice interrupts, calling the proceedings "hokum" and Keller a "snakecharming preacher". What the heck is going on?

As they attended in their own names, and being known in their profession, Keller appears at the office and blames Rob for what has happened. In the midst of her ranting, she again begins to talk about "quacks and crooks". But it's her reference to a trial in Dayton, and "boobus Americanus" that causes Rob to realize she's spouting H.L. Mencken. Why would she fake channeling the skeptic's skeptic? And is Kildy in on it? Is she "a beautiful, calculating woman who seduces the hero into helping her with a scam"? Or is it real? And if it's real, what a can of worms!

A very engaging, clever and amusing novella.

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