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Blackout

by

Blackout Cover

ISBN13: 9780345519832
ISBN10: 0345519833
All Product Details

 

Awards

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In her first novel since 2002, Nebula and Hugo award-winning author Connie Willis returns with a stunning, enormously entertaining novel of time travel, war, and the deeds — great and small—of ordinary people who shape history. In the hands of this acclaimed storyteller, the past and future collide — and the result is at once intriguing, elusive, and frightening.

Oxford in 2060 is a chaotic place. Scores of time-traveling historians are being sent into the past, to destinations including the American Civil War and the attack on the World Trade Center. Michael Davies is prepping to go to Pearl Harbor. Merope Ward is coping with a bunch of bratty 1940 evacuees and trying to talk her thesis adviser, Mr. Dunworthy, into letting her go to VE Day. Polly Churchill's next assignment will be as a shopgirl in the middle of London's Blitz. And seventeen-year-old Colin Templer, who has a major crush on Polly, is determined to go to the Crusades so that he can "catch up" to her in age.

But now the time-travel lab is suddenly canceling assignments for no apparent reason and switching around everyone's schedules. And when Michael, Merope, and Polly finally get to World War II, things just get worse. For there they face air raids, blackouts, unexploded bombs, dive-bombing Stukas, rationing, shrapnel, V-1s, and two of the most incorrigible children in all of history — to say nothing of a growing feeling that not only their assignments but the war and history itself are spiraling out of control. Because suddenly the once-reliable mechanisms of time travel are showing significant glitches, and our heroes are beginning to question their most firmly held belief: that no historian can possibly change the past.

From the people sheltering in the tube stations of London to the retired sailors who set off across the Channel to rescue the stranded British Army from Dunkirk, from shopgirls to ambulance drivers, from spies to hospital nurses to Shakespearean actors, Blackout reveals a side of World War II seldom seen before: a dangerous, desperate world in which there are no civilians and in which everybody — from the Queen down to the lowliest barmaid — is determined to do their bit to help a beleaguered nation survive.

Review:

“A tour de force...[Willis] is one of America’s finest writers.” The Denver Post

Review:

“This compassionate and deeply imagined novel...gives the reader a strong you-were-there feeling.” The Times-Picayune

Review:

“[Willis has] researched Blackout so thoroughly, her readers may imagine she had access to the time machine her characters use.” The Seattle Times

Review:

“A page-turning thriller...Willis uses detail and period language exquisitely well, creating an engaging, exciting tale.” Publishers Weekly

Synopsis:

The Nebula and Hugo Award-winning author of The Doomsday Book returns with an epic time-traveling story that follows three researchers from the future who are stranded in the past during World War II.

Synopsis:

Oxford in 2060 is a chaotic place, with scores of time-traveling historians being sent into the past. Michael Davies is prepping to go to Pearl Harbor. Merope Ward is coping with a bunch of bratty 1940 evacuees and trying to talk her thesis adviser into letting her go to VE-Day. Polly Churchill’s next assignment will be as a shopgirl in the middle of London’s Blitz. But now the time-travel lab is suddenly canceling assignments and switching around everyone’s schedules. And when Michael, Merope, and Polly finally get to World War II, things just get worse. For there they face air raids, blackouts, and dive-bombing Stukas — to say nothing of a growing feeling that not only their assignments but the war and history itself are spiraling out of control. Because suddenly the once-reliable mechanisms of time travel are showing significant glitches, and our heroes are beginning to question their most firmly held belief: that no historian can possibly change the past.

About the Author

Connie Willis, who was recently inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame, has received six Nebula Awards and ten Hugo Awards for her fiction; her previous novel, Passage, was nominated for both. Her other works include Doomsday Book, Lincoln’s Dreams, Bellwether, Impossible Things, Remake, Uncharted Territory, To Say Nothing of the Dog, Fire Watch, and Miracle and Other Christmas Stories. Connie Willis lives in Colorado with her family.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 16 comments:

Jeffrey Bluhm, March 24, 2014 (view all comments by Jeffrey Bluhm)
Review is for both Blackout and All Clear. Complaints first:
1. More historical fiction than science fiction: There is an underlying time travel/science fiction element to the books, but 95% of the content is about living in England during the years before and during WWII - Dunkirk, the Battle of Britain, the Blitz, and the V-1 and V-2 rocket attacks.
2. Total content of the two books is 25-50% too long - for example, when a character is faced with a dilemma, the reader doesn't need to hear them think through every ramification of every option they have, every time; as another example, when our heroes are escaping from a 7-story building, it isn't necessary for the author to take us through every floor, with the thoughts and concerns of each character on each floor.
Overall, however, the books are highly readable, and since many chapters end in cliffhanger fashion, the story does keep one's interest. Characters are likeable and believable. And as historical fiction goes, the information is fascinating - I'm a big fan of history, and these books gave me a comprehensive appreciation of the dangers and sacrifices of the people of Britain during WWII, which lasted much longer for them than it did for American and Americans.
The time travel element is also flawlessly executed, though you should keep the first novel handy as you read the second, to go back and reference chapters that, at the time you first read them, don't seem to fit the story. It's not linear, and keeping notes as to who is who, and when, will serve you well.
So if you dont' mind the occasional thought of "C'mon, get on with it", these can be very enjoyable books.
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nrlymrtl, July 10, 2013 (view all comments by nrlymrtl)
Let me start with a little confession: I don’t often read time travel books because 1) the time travel going on is usually for dramatic reasons; and/or 2) there is some utterly ridiculous method for the time travel itself. Connie Willis avoids both these pitfalls and makes time travel and exciting, fresh, and a rousing good story. In short, this is how time travel should be. She doesn’t get all caught up in the mechanics or theories of time travel, whether it is plausible or not. She doesn’t use some mystical rock or token to suddenly sweep our adventures up into another place and time. No. It is simply a tool used for years by researches, set in a future Oxford University. Our main characters set out to study small things, nuances of the WWII in England �" evacuated children, the life of a shopgirl, the small heroes at Dover, female ambulance brigades, etc.

Some of my favorite characters were Alf and Binny Hodbin, two children that plagued Eileen in the countryside, often playing hookey from school, ‘collecting’ aluminum for the war effort by stealing cooking pans, and ‘practicing’ for a potential German invasion by leaving tacks at the start of the long driveway to the mansion. Quite charming, really. The Hodbins provided entertainment and drama, and were a challenging interaction for Eileen, and yet were still endearing.

Polly ends up working at Townsend Brothers shop by day and spending most nights in a small local shelter or one of the tube station shelters, instead of the boarding house where she rents a room. Over time, the small group of neighborhood folk she hangs with decide to form an acting troupe, complete with children and a dog.

Initially planning to go to Dover to witness unsung local heroes, Mike experiences the biggest slippage, placing him in the wrong place a few days ahead of schedule. Through a ridiculous set of circumstances, he ends up on a leaky tub captained by an aged lunatic who volunteers with the local ‘fleet’ to go to Dunkirk across the Chanel to rescue Allied troops. Of course, there are all sorts of things for Mike to be concerned about: the mined Chanel, enemy submarines, the seaworthiness of the vessel he’s in, fog, the knowledge of the captain, and of course enemy fire at Dunkirk. But he also has the added worry of Dunkirk being a time travel divergent point �" basically a place he should not be just in case any action of his alters something that then changes the known time line.

So those three (Eileen, Polly, and Mike) are all researching WWII at about the same time on the time line. Meanwhile, we also get to meet Mary, who is studying a female ambulance brigade set a few years later and at the very start of the V1 and V2 rockets. We only get a few scenes with her, but I can see how she could fill a larger role in the sequel.

By now, you can tell that I was very taken with the characters. Well, I also loved the plot and the setting. Willis does a beautiful job of weaving in small historical tidbits all over the place, seamlessly integrating them with the story line. It was interesting and part of the plot, and when I finished the book, I felt like I had just lived through a rather exciting WWII history course, I learned so much. And I will remember much of it because I was so attached to these characters that ‘lived’ through it. Connie Willis, you rock history!
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Ingrid de Beus, January 1, 2013 (view all comments by Ingrid de Beus)
Connie Willis one of my desert island authors, and I was delighted that with Blackout, she has returned to the madcap world of To Say Nothing Of The Dog (and Doomsday Book), which is one of my all-time favorite fantasy novels. Blackout and its second half All Clear are just as funny as To Say Nothing, plus a giant epic landscape of WWII history, with the kind of ridiculous detail makes me feel like I could walk around London with Blackout in my hand as a guidebook to individual Londoner's experience of the Blitz. The story is also intense, suspenseful and tragic. It's a great time travel story, and it's a great World War II story, and it's a great story about what living through a war really means.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780345519832
Author:
Willis, Connie
Publisher:
Spectra Books
Author:
Willis, Connie, (Ed)
Subject:
Science Fiction - General
Subject:
Historical - General
Subject:
Science / General
Subject:
Science Fiction and Fantasy-A to Z
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
20100931
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
512
Dimensions:
8.32x5.62x1.08 in. .88 lbs.

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Blackout New Trade Paper
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$16.00 In Stock
Product details 512 pages Spectra Books - English 9780345519832 Reviews:
"Review" by , “A tour de force...[Willis] is one of America’s finest writers.”
"Review" by , “This compassionate and deeply imagined novel...gives the reader a strong you-were-there feeling.”
"Review" by , “[Willis has] researched Blackout so thoroughly, her readers may imagine she had access to the time machine her characters use.”
"Review" by , “A page-turning thriller...Willis uses detail and period language exquisitely well, creating an engaging, exciting tale.”
"Synopsis" by , The Nebula and Hugo Award-winning author of The Doomsday Book returns with an epic time-traveling story that follows three researchers from the future who are stranded in the past during World War II.
"Synopsis" by , Oxford in 2060 is a chaotic place, with scores of time-traveling historians being sent into the past. Michael Davies is prepping to go to Pearl Harbor. Merope Ward is coping with a bunch of bratty 1940 evacuees and trying to talk her thesis adviser into letting her go to VE-Day. Polly Churchill’s next assignment will be as a shopgirl in the middle of London’s Blitz. But now the time-travel lab is suddenly canceling assignments and switching around everyone’s schedules. And when Michael, Merope, and Polly finally get to World War II, things just get worse. For there they face air raids, blackouts, and dive-bombing Stukas — to say nothing of a growing feeling that not only their assignments but the war and history itself are spiraling out of control. Because suddenly the once-reliable mechanisms of time travel are showing significant glitches, and our heroes are beginning to question their most firmly held belief: that no historian can possibly change the past.
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