Charles Ahlquist, January 1, 2012 (view all comments by Charles Ahlquist)
When Time Travel has become an academic endeavor, Blackout takes us to World War II during the bombing of London. Connie Willis continues to amaze me with her immense ability to interlace historical information, references to arts and literature, and character development without missing a beat. Don't miss the other half of the book in "All Clear!"
Deborah J. Ross, October 19, 2011 (view all comments by Deborah J. Ross)
The way to study history, in 2060 at any rate, is to go there yourself, and that's what the historians at Oxford University are doing. But the department is in chaos, and various researchers find themselves stranded in England during World War II. Although it isn't supposed to be possible to alter history in any significant way, the old rules start breaking down. Fragmented knowledge based on incomplete records -- or records that had been deliberately falsified in order to mislead the Germans -- only makes matters worse, for in trying to avoid one paradox, our characters may have created a worse one. I loved the sense of people stumbling around in the dark, acting from wrong assumptions and the best intentions, and read this not as actual time travel but as alternate history. That is, this is not the London Blitz of our world, but of some other that has been pushed and shoved and niggled by wayward historians into a subtly different form.
Chuck Childers, September 1, 2011 (view all comments by Chuck Childers)
It's hard to rate a book that is actually the first half of a two-volume novel, but I enjoyed _Blackout_. It's the story of multiple time travelers lost in England during World War II. Like many of Connie Willis's novels, there are mix-ups, misunderstandings and missed connections, but the tone is much more serious than her outrightly comedic books like _To Say Nothing of the Dog_. If the second book, _All Clear_, fulfills the promise of _Blackout_, I'll prob'ly revise my rating to 5 stars.
UpsieDaisy, January 2, 2011 (view all comments by UpsieDaisy)
This is actually a "two-parter" which is completed in Willis' book "All Clear". Continuing her time-traveling historians theme, Willis takes us to England in World War II. The history and sense of place is rich and intriguing and left me wishing to return to England to visit some of the more obscure historical spots enriched by the history lessons I learned. I was sorely disappointed when I discovered I had to wait months to read the second part but it was certainly worth the wait. These books are well-researched and, as always, the interwoven lives of the historians make for a compelling story.
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Harriett Smith, January 2, 2011 (view all comments by Harriett Smith)
Blackout/All Clear by Connie Willis was originally meant to be one book. Both "halves" of this work are impossible to put down, and incredibly interesting to anyone with the least interest in England and/or World War II. I was late to everything while reading them!
by The Denver Post,
“A tour de force...[Willis] is one of America’s finest writers.”
by The Times-Picayune,
“This compassionate and deeply imagined novel...gives the reader a strong you-were-there feeling.”
by The Seattle Times,
“[Willis has] researched Blackout so thoroughly, her readers may imagine she had access to the time machine her characters use.”
by Publishers Weekly,
“A page-turning thriller...Willis uses detail and period language exquisitely well, creating an engaging, exciting tale.”
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.
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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