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Doomsday Book by Connie Willis
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Doomsday Book (original 1992; edition 1993)

by Connie Willis

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
5,562261775 (4.11)1 / 666
Member:gambistics
Title:Doomsday Book
Authors:Connie Willis
Info:Spectra (1993), Mass Market Paperback, 592 pages
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. 152
    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. 102
    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. 102
    Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks (labfs39)
  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. 20
    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. 76
    The Time Machine by H. G. Wells (JGolomb)
  10. 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
  11. 11
    Company of Liars by Karen Maitland (Othemts)
  12. 00
    The Plague by Albert Camus (aulsmith)
    aulsmith: Two books that depict how communities deal with plagues.
  13. 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.
  14. 02
    The Time Ships by Stephen Baxter (JGolomb)
  15. 47
    World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks (cmbohn)
  16. 15
    Timeline by Michael Crichton (labrick)
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English (256)  Spanish (2)  French (2)  All languages (260)
Showing 1-5 of 256 (next | show all)
3.5 / 5 ( )
  Amanda105 | Sep 5, 2016 |
I’ve never heard of Connie Willis, the author the Doomsday Book, which won both the Hugo and Nebula awards for best science fiction book of the year in 1992. Apparently, she’s quite successful, having won six Nebula awards (more than any other science fiction writer) and six Hugo awards, yet again, I’ve never heard of her, nor have I ever seen any of her books. I happened upon this book in a used bookstore, selling for a nickel, and I think that pretty much says it all. I don’t know how the hell she has won all these awards for books I’ve never heard of, and I’ve been reading science fiction since the early 1970s and know most of the prominent authors – just about all of them, in fact – but I’m almost willing to say she’s faking this bio, that her publisher is faking this bio, that there’s no way in hell she’s won all of these awards, because no one I know as EVER HEARD OF HER and you NEVER SEE ANY OF HER BOOKS IN A FUCKING BOOKSTORE!!!

So, this book. It’s about time travel. Specifically about a young history student at some made up college in England (I guess it’s a college, although the student must be a dwarf, because she’s only a meter and a half tall), who gets a tutor from another college to teach her about the Middle Ages because that is where she wants to travel to, specifically England, 1320. She learns all sorts of things, languages, spinning, riding, cooking, dressing oneself, etc., and after awhile, she feels she’s ready and her academic advisor believes she is too. The trouble is, her tutor, Mr. Dunwoody, doesn’t think she’s ready at all and thinks this is a huge mistake and furthermore thinks her academic advisor is an idiot who is pushing things too quickly, etc., while the student, one “Kivrin,” is champing at the bit, knowing she’s ready. And off she goes. And Dunwoody frets. And worries. And talks about it – incessantly. As in that’s all he talks about to anyone. And he complains – that she’s in danger, that she shouldn’t have gone, that she might not have gone to the right year, the right location, that anything could have gone wrong, and … well, you get the picture.

Meanwhile, Kivrin DOESN’T wind up in 1320. She apparently winds up in 1348, the year the Black Plague started and she finds herself very, very sick. And nothing is as she prepared for it. Everyone is wrong. Her clothes are wrong. Her name is wrong. Her cover story is wrong. Her language is wrong, as no one can understand her, and she can’t understand them. Her built-in translator doesn’t work. And she must go back and find the drop zone, so she can go home. She says this over and over again to everyone she meets. She must find the drop zone, she must go back to the drop zone, where’s the bloody drop zone? She also thinks about Dunwoody – a lot. Mr. Dunwoody was right about this, right about that, he’s probably not worrying about me, he probably is worrying about me, come save me Mr. Dunwoody.

I’ve never read a book where two characters, especially characters separated presumably by some 40 years, obsess so damn much over each other, repeatedly, over and over, four, five, six times a page. It’s fucking annoying as hell! I made it to page 202 out of 578 pages and decided if I read about the damn drop zone one more time and if I have to read about Dunwoody freaking out about Kivrin and Kivrin thinking over and over again about Dunwoody, I’d go psychotic and then no one could hold me responsible for the evil things that I would do. Rather than have that drastic outcome, I decided to stop. Holy shit, what an annoying book! I had read some one and two star reviews that commented about the damned repeating crap that goes on in this book, but I really wasn’t prepared for this idiocy. Willis could have cut out the repeating and shaved half the page count off the book and actually possibly made it readable. I don’t know how the book has a 4+ rating, because I think it’s utter rubbish. And the tech who sends Kivrin through to the 1300s collapses before he can provide Dunwoody and the others with crucial information and all he does, apparently, throughout the entire book, is raise his head up from his bed and remark that something terrible happened. Well, no shit asshole! Why don’t you tell someone something sometime some year, you jerk? Quit whining and be a man! Geez, what a pansy. Crappy book. No more than one star and most certainly not recommended under any circumstance. ( )
1 vote scottcholstad | Jul 18, 2016 |
CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS

James Dunworthy, a faculty member of the Oxford History Department, enters a viewing chamber where his friend, Mary Ahrens, is watching the preparations for sending a historian named Kivrin to 1320. The policy has been not to send historians to the medieval period because of the danger to the historian, but the head of the department, Mr. Basingame, is out of town and has left a faculty member named Gilchrist in charge. Gilchrist has overridden the policy to allow Kivrin to go.

As soon as she is through the net, Dunworthy and Mary go to a nearby pub to wait for Badri, the tech in charge of the drop, to get a definite fix on Kivrin's location so she can be picked up in two weeks. Dunworthy admits to being very worried because drops to such distant times have not been attempted. While Mary is reassuring him, Badri rushes in, mutters about a problem and rushes back out with Dunworthy and Mary in pursuit. At the lab, Badri says that he has a fix on Kivrin's location but says again that there's a problem, then faints over the console. Mary, a physician, calls for medical transport and Dunworthy travels to the hospital with Badri. There, it's determined that Badri has a virus and the entire team is quarantined for a period of time. When a second case is reported, the entire city is locked down in quarantine status and the team released with orders to return the following day.

Meanwhile, Kivrin arrives and decides she's at the correct time of year but that there's nothing to definitively say she's in 1320 and realizes she has arrived a short distance from the road onto which she'd expected to be dropped. She begins trying to move her possessions, including a wagon, to the road but soon finds she's feeling ill. She passes out and the next days pass in a delirium of fever and pain. When she wakes, she feigns amnesia and quickly becomes fond of two little girls in the household. She knows there's some problem, but days pass before she figures out that the family has come to this remote village in an effort to escape the plague. Kivrin only then learns that she's missed the target by years and is landed in the middle of the Black Death plague of 1348.

Meanwhile, the plague is sweeping the present and Dunworthy is only one of hundreds who fall ill. Like in the 1300s, the victims blame a great many things for the illnesses until it's finally discovered that the virus originated at an archaeological dig of a church burial ground from the 1300s. Gilchrist, in reaction to public demand, shuts down the time travel lab, and Dunworthy knows that Kivrin is now stranded in the 1300s. With the encouragement of Mary's great-nephew, a young boy named Colin, Dunworthy rounds up a team to mount a rescue mission. The new drop is successful, and Dunworthy locates Kivrin, though not in time to save Kivrin's own nightmarish days of nursing the dozens of residents of the village and seeing them all die. Having been inoculated against the virus before her trip through the net, Kivrin is the sole survivor. As she, Dunworthy and Colin prepare to step back into the year 2054, Kivrin says that she is still glad she came because she alone can give witness to the lives of those who died. ( )
  bostonwendym | Jul 12, 2016 |
The kind of book I tend to DIVE into and only surface from occasionally. I read it in two days. I couldn't put it down....high praise. ( )
  lesliefedorchuk | Jul 6, 2016 |
It was very good no doubt, but on the other hand, emotionally draining. After reading Outlander last year, I was looking for a good time travel (Outlander I did not find satisfactory in that regard), and I was not disappointed this time. It's my first Connie Willis book, and not quite what I expected to find - I had a vague idea that she also wrote To Say Nothing of the Dog, which sounded like a funny book, and I wrongly assumed that all of her books would be in that vein.... big big mistake. I got myself in the middle of 2 epidemics - 1 in the book's present time and one in 14th century Europe (yes, the plague...)
I was browsing some reviews to see what other people thought of this book, and it's interesting how they either absolutely loved it or they very much hated it. It's not a book you forget when you put down or feel indifferent about. Some complaints were related to the fact that the first part is monotonous and repetitive. Indeed the characters seem to go round and round and round, they are having their little obsessions and doing the same things over and over again - to me this seemed almost hypnotic, it was like pulling you into the rhythm of the characters, like a spider weaving its web around you... And then all hell breaks loose... It was strange that having characters dropping like flies every other page, in the end it was the cow that nobody cared to milk that finally broke my heart...
All in all, it is an admirable book, but I do not imagine I would ever want to read it a second time. ( )
  LauraM77 | Jun 28, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (16 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Connie Willisprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Carella, MariaDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jacobus, TimCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kuittinen, TeroTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Marín Trechera, RafaelTranslatorsecondary 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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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:05 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

A grim story of a 21st century academic marooned in a 14th century English village being ravaged by the Black Death. Willis' story is the greatest post-modern time travel story of them all, a novel that combines a genre work with all the required components and a tour de force piece of storytelling.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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