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Doomsday book by Connie Willis
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Doomsday book (original 1992; edition 1992)

by Connie Willis

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
6,332297981 (4.1)1 / 769
Member:Glenn_Russell
Title:Doomsday book
Authors:Connie Willis
Info:London : Gollancz, 2012, c1992.
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:None

Work details

Doomsday Book by Connie Willis (1992)

  1. 244
    To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis (amberwitch, Othemts, Patangel)
    amberwitch: A much lighter story set in the same universe.
    Othemts: To Say Nothing of the Dog is a more light-hearted time travel adventure which is sort of a sequel to Doomsday Book. Both are excellent, enjoyable novels.
  2. 153
    Blackout by Connie Willis (bell7)
    bell7: Some characters return in this story, set in 1944 England, and involving similar themes of how people react in a crisis.
  3. 111
    Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks (labfs39)
  4. 92
    Eifelheim by Michael Flynn (Ape)
    Ape: Far from identical stories, but both are sci-fi takes on the black death (Eifelheim: Aliens, Doomsday Book: Time Travel.) There are numerous similarities, and I think if you like one the other might be worth looking into.
  5. 70
    The Door into Summer by Robert A. Heinlein (Kichererbse)
  6. 50
    The Time Traveler's Guide to Medieval England: A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century by Ian Mortimer (Sakerfalcon)
    Sakerfalcon: A non-fiction book about everyday life in C14th England, written as though you the reader are there. Kivrin would have found this essential reading to prepare for her journey into the past.
  7. 40
    Replay by Ken Grimwood (Kichererbse)
  8. 51
    Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (Rubbah)
    Rubbah: Both amazing books featuring dangerous flu like viruses and how people cope in emergency situations
  9. 30
    Kindred by Octavia E. Butler (Anonymous user)
  10. 86
    The Time Machine by H. G. Wells (JGolomb)
  11. 10
    The Annals of Ireland by Friar John Clyn (the_awesome_opossum)
    the_awesome_opossum: The Annals of Ireland was referenced and quoted a few times in Doomsday Book
  12. 00
    The Plague by Albert Camus (aulsmith)
    aulsmith: Two books that depict how communities deal with plagues.
  13. 00
    The Years of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson (sturlington)
  14. 34
    Timeline by Michael Crichton (labrick)
  15. 12
    Company of Liars by Karen Maitland (Othemts)
  16. 12
    Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel (Anonymous user)
    Anonymous user: This is another book that really brings a period of history to life around you.
  17. 02
    The Time Ships by Stephen Baxter (JGolomb)
  18. 48
    World War Z by Max Brooks (cmbohn)
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English (292)  Spanish (2)  French (2)  All languages (296)
Showing 1-5 of 292 (next | show all)
A great piece of Science/Historical fiction ( )
  PhilOnTheHill | Sep 8, 2019 |
I really liked this book. It was a different way of looking at time travel than other science fiction novels I have read. I appreciated how the author described the people and events of the middle ages and how Kivrin coped with knowing the outcome of the plague while getting to know and care about people that could soon be its victims. I also liked how the near future time period was a satire of current day responses to epidemics and university culture. It also provided much needed comic relief to the dire circumstances of the sections on the past. My one criticism was that the main characters in both time periods spent a lot of time fretting about specific problems that they were helpless to control. Their inner dialog lamenting their situation got a little repetitive at times. Overall i enjoyed the book and think it gave me a perspective on the horrible nature of the plague that I have not taken away from other historical fiction that I have read from that time period. ( )
  Cora-R | Jul 31, 2019 |
I really liked this book. It was a different way of looking at time travel than other science fiction novels I have read. I appreciated how the author described the people and events of the middle ages and how Kivrin coped with knowing the outcome of the plague while getting to know and care about people that could soon be its victims. I also liked how the near future time period was a satire of current day responses to epidemics and university culture. It also provided much needed comic relief to the dire circumstances of the sections on the past. My one criticism was that the main characters in both time periods spent a lot of time fretting about specific problems that they were helpless to control. Their inner dialog lamenting their situation got a little repetitive at times. Overall i enjoyed the book and think it gave me a perspective on the horrible nature of the plague that I have not taken away from other historical fiction that I have read from that time period. ( )
  Cora-R | Jun 28, 2019 |
Oxford University student Kivrin wants to time travel back to the Middle Ages for her thesis. It goes about as well as expected. Do NOT mess with the Middle Ages. ( )
  miri12 | May 31, 2019 |
Doomsday Book is the first book in the Oxford Time Travel series. I’ve seen a lot of mixed reviews and comments about it so I wasn’t too sure what to expect, but I enjoyed it very much. It grabbed my attention from the beginning and only got more interesting as it progressed. I’m rating it at 4.5 stars based on my enjoyment level, but rounding down to 4 on Goodreads because it has enough flaws that 5 stars seems too generous.

I would like to warn that, despite having quite a bit of humor, this is not a “feel-good” story. The book does tell a complete, self-contained story. It’s divided between two time periods: late 2054 and the 1300’s. In 2054, time travel is used by historians to gain first-hand experience of what life was like in the past. A young college student named Kivrin is this first person sent back to the 1300’s, and naturally something goes wrong. Matters are complicated by a flu epidemic that incapacitates the only technician available who could determine what happened and helped them retrieve Kivrin.

I very much enjoyed both timelines. There are really over-the-top, annoying characters who were humorous but also exasperating. In the 2054 chapters, I had some trouble with the technology presented. I don’t usually have trouble with dated technology in older books, but I felt like the author ignored well-known if not always ubiquitous technology from her own time to increase the drama. The book was published in 1992 and communication difficulties are a major plot point in the 2054 chapters. There are no mobile phones. Not only that, but they don’t even have answering machines or call waiting. Their phones do have the ability to display video though, so I guess there’s that? Also, you have people running around delivering paper messages and e-mail is never mentioned. I was given my first cell phone in 1993 as a high school graduation gift, and my parents had one before that. As far as e-mail goes, I’ve been using that in one form or another since I was 10 in 1986. And answering machines? I’m pretty sure they were invented before I was born. I was mostly able to accept that “this is the state of technology in this fictional future” and just enjoy the story but sometimes when the communication issues became especially repetitive I would get pulled out of the story and start ranting in my head.

I have a few more comments for the spoiler tags:
I kept thinking the plot was more complex than it was. For example, I thought more was going on with Roche for at least the first half of the book. He was clearly the one to find Kivrin, but I failed to realize he'd seen her materialize and had thought she was literally sent from God. I just knew he seemed to treat her differently, and also his Latin was more along the lines of what Kivrin had learned and his prayers almost sounded like he was recording information about what was going on like Kivrin was doing when she “prayed”. So I was sure he was from the future, and I was trying to puzzle out why he didn’t tell Kivrin that and trying to figure out if he’d been sent to help her or if it was just a coincidence that they ended up at the same place or what. There was a very brief time, maybe for about 5 seconds, when I thought Roche was the vanished Basingame, then I realized Kivrin would have surely recognized him if he were.

Speaking of Basingame, we never found out where he was. I kept thinking there was more to that story too, that foul play had been involved to get him out of the way. I also was expecting to find out Kivrin was sent to the wrong time on purpose, so I found it a bit too coincidental that Badri’s mistake would just happen to put her there right at that particular time.

I was also skeptical about the whole idea of the net automatically preventing paradoxes. Surely a time traveler could still go off and do something that would have a major impact on events, or refuse to return through the net and live out their days in the past, introducing ideas before their time. I always expect logic flaws in time travel books though, so they usually don’t bother me if they aren’t too drastic. If a person wants to only read books that are completely logical, they should probably avoid time travel stories altogether. :)

I really liked Roche and thought he was a great character. I also liked Agnes and Rosemund and felt particularly sympathetic toward Rosemund. I was very sad that pretty much everybody from the past died, and that Mary died. I also felt horrible for the poor tortured and killed puppy. :p That was a go-hug-the-closest-animal-you-can-find moment.
( )
1 vote YouKneeK | Mar 16, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 292 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (13 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Connie Willisprimary authorall editionscalculated
Carella, MariaDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jacobus, TimCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kuittinen, TeroTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Marín Trechera, RafaelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Roberts, AdamIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sterlin, JennyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
van Son, TomTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vanderstelt, JerryIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Youll, Jamie S. WarrenCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
"And lest things which should be remembered perish with time and vanish from the memory of those who are to come after us, I, seeing so many evils and the whole world, as it were, placed within the grasp of the Evil One, being myself as if among the dead, I, waiting for death, have put into writing all the things that I have witnessed.
    And, lest the writing should perish with the writer and the work fail with the laborer, I leave parchment to continue this work, if perchance any man and any of the race of Adam escape this pestilence and carry on the work which I have begun . . . " Brother John Clyn, 1349
Dedication
To Laura and Cordelia - my Kivrins
First words
Mr. Dunworthy opened the door to the laboratory and his spectacles promptly steamed up.
Quotations
I'm in a lot of trouble, Mr. Dunworthy. I don't know where I am, and I can't speak the language. Something's gone wrong with the interpreter. I can understand some of what the contemps say, but they can't understand me at all. And that's not the worst of it. I've caught some sort of disease. I don't know what it is.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
In the mid-21st century, scientists have discovered how to travel back in history in order to conduct research on the past. Kivrin Engle, a young history student at Oxford University, decides to go back to the year 1320 in England. She thinks she has thoroughly prepared for a brief stay by studying the language and customs of the time. But the project takes a frightening turn when Kivrin arrives in the past delirious with fever. When she recovers, she's facing many dangers -- chief among them the fact that she can't recall the rendezvous point for her return. Meanwhile, back in Oxford in the 21st century, a mysterious virus is causing a deadly epidemic. Will Kivrin be marooned in the past? Will her colleagues at Oxford figure out what went wrong, and survive long enough to rescue her?
Haiku summary
Primary sources
Researched by time-travelling
Brave historians
(pickupsticks)
A time traveler’s screwed
because she never just asks,
“Hey, what year is it?”
(Carnophile)

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