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Doomsday Book by Connie Willis
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Doomsday Book (original 1992; edition 1994)

by Connie Willis (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4,917None930 (4.14)526
Member:divinenanny
Title:Doomsday Book
Authors:Connie Willis (Author)
Info:Bantam Books (1994), New York, Mass Market Paperback, 578p.
Collections:Your library, eBooks, Read, Read 2010, The List, Buy and Get 2010, Readable
Rating:****
Tags:time travel, ukfeb2010, science fiction, 1400s, england, read2010, hugo, fiction, nebula, locus

Work details

Doomsday Book by Connie Willis (1992)

14th century (72) Black Death (150) bubonic plague (44) England (136) epidemic (30) fantasy (207) fiction (629) historical (87) historical fiction (254) history (70) Hugo (38) Hugo Award (36) hugo winner (42) medieval (116) Middle Ages (134) Nebula (32) Nebula Award (36) nebula winner (38) novel (64) Oxford (59) paperback (31) plague (203) read (101) science fiction (1,150) sf (226) sff (85) speculative fiction (64) time travel (762) to-read (101) unread (42)
  1. 203
    To Say Nothing of the Dog; or, How We Found the Bishop's Bird Stump at Last 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. 142
    Blackout by Connie Willis (bell7, loriephillips)
    bell7: Some characters return in this story, set in 1944 England, and involving similar themes of how people react in a crisis.
  3. 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.
  4. 70
    The Door into Summer by Robert A. Heinlein (Kichererbse)
  5. 92
    Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague by Geraldine Brooks (labfs39)
  6. 64
    The Time Machine by H. G. Wells (JGolomb)
  7. 20
    Replay by Ken Grimwood (Kichererbse)
  8. 20
    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.
  9. 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
  10. 11
    Company of Liars by Karen Maitland (Othemts)
  11. 02
    Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel (Anonymous user)
    Anonymous user: This is another book that really brings a period of history to life around you.
  12. 24
    Timeline by Michael Crichton (labrick)
  13. 02
    The Time Ships by Stephen Baxter (JGolomb)
  14. 46
    World War Z by Max Brooks (cmbohn)
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» See also 526 mentions

English (215)  Spanish (2)  French (2)  All languages (219)
Showing 1-5 of 215 (next | show all)
This book was so slow and very repetitive. I wanted to quit reading but in the back of my mind I thought I knew what was going to happen so I had to keep reading. More than half way through we get the knock out punch and I never recovered. This book was Grue. Some. And sad and frustrating. No happy endings here. Not that I thought there would be. ( )
  thingtwo | Feb 14, 2014 |
If I could excise almost all the bits that happen in the future, and just have this really interesting book about a time traveler in the 14th Century, I'd have been a lot happier. It's good. It's not excellent. ( )
  curiousgene | Feb 14, 2014 |
This book was so slow to start but once it did it moved like an avalanche. After it built up force it knocked me over and it's still ringing inside me. When I think about the end it still moves me to tears. It was deep, it was so deep, and it truly touched me. ( )
  g33kgrrl | Jan 2, 2014 |
While I like the premise of the story and think there are some interesting characters being portrayed, the main problem I'm having is one of pace. More than once I've found myself urging the story to move along to some kind of payoff point.

Around page 300 or so, just when the bad things start happening, it turns into a real tale, though it always feels as if we're being led around in circles instead of toward the true direction of the story. ( )
  rmagahiz | Dec 21, 2013 |
At the end of last year I was annoyed no end when I read Connie Willis's Blackout which as far as I could see consisted of everyone rushing around like headless chickens getting absolutely nothing done. But everyone said that it wasn't her best book, and the whole idea of her books appealed so much that I thought I needed to give her books at least one more try. And people were right, Doomsday Book is a much better book which I did enjoy in parts, but as well as the enjoyable sections there were parts which made me equally, if not more annoyed, than I had been in reading Blackout. I won't go too much into the basic plot (student historian (Kivrin) from the Oxford of the 2050's travels back in time to the Middle Ages, accidentally ending up in 1348 right in the middle of the Black Death, rather than the relatively safe 1320 as intended, while meanwhile an unknown virus ravages the Oxford she has left behind) but these are some of the reasons it annoyed me so much:

Why, oh why does everyone in the Oxford of 2050 sound as if they came from 1950? I can cope with the picture of the future when the book was written being different from what we might envisage today (although the lack of mobile phones is a little odd given when it was written) but the picture that's presented just doesn't seem believable. It's like a Disneyfied, Hollywood, picture of England where everyone speaks with a cut-glass accent and has a stiff upper lip. It's just too formal, and too religious, and just well wrong ... And at the same time it's not different enough from the real world to form a credible alternate universe, like the Oxford that Philip Pullman creates for Lyra in The Northern Lights which in contrast seems just right ...

And if you're creating a book where the plot hinges on the nature of the deadly diseases that are ravaging the fourteenth and the twenty-first centuries, you would do a little bit of research on what deadly diseases are a possibility, wouldn't you? Is it the cholera? asks Lady Eliwys in the fourteenth century. Well actually, no it isn't as cholera didn't find it's way to the UK from India until the 1830's. And Kivrin assures herself that the illness she is suffering from couldn't possibly be malaria as it had never been endemic to England. Well actually yes it was, when England was a much marshier place than it is now malaria was very endemic, except that they called it ague instead.

And the whole organisation of the time-travelling itself just seemed a disaster waiting to happen. Why on earth would you send time travellers into an unknown situation on their own? It makes no sense at all. I mean Britain is still part of the EU in this future world, so where are the health and safety regulations, the risk assessments, the government committees governing time travel?

I know I'm taking it all too seriously, but there were just so many things that irritated me! And it's such a shame because underneath everything there was a good book waiting to get out. But overall the irritation won and so I don't think I'll be trying any more Connie Willis. ( )
2 vote SandDune | Dec 18, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 215 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (9 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Connie Willisprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Jacobus, TimCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kuittinen, TeroTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sterlin, JennyNarratorsecondary 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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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0553562738, Mass Market Paperback)

Connie Willis labored five years on this story of a history student in 2048 who is transported to an English village in the 14th century. The student arrives mistakenly on the eve of the onset of the Black Plague. Her dealings with a family of "contemps" in 1348 and with her historian cohorts lead to complications as the book unfolds into a surprisingly dark, deep conclusion. The book, which won Hugo and Nebula Awards, draws upon Willis' understanding of the universalities of human nature to explore the ageless issues of evil, suffering and the indomitable will of the human spirit.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:59:56 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

A time-traveler is stranded in medieval Europe during the Black Death.

(summary from another edition)

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