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All Clear by Connie Willis

All Clear

by Connie Willis

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Oxford Time Travel series (4), All Clear (2)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,4261075,286 (4.07)261
  1. 20
    Farthing by Jo Walton (ryvre)
  2. 00
    11/22/63 by Stephen King (Navarone)
  3. 00
    The Little Book by Selden Edwards (becksdakex)
    becksdakex: Time travel, WWII, change history?
  4. 02
    The A.B.C. Murders by Agatha Christie (sturlington)
    sturlington: Referenced several times in All Clear.

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» See also 261 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 106 (next | show all)
This is not a stand alone book. It continues from where the story ended in Black Out. It felt too long but was enjoyable ( )
  bradylouie | Apr 27, 2016 |
Note: This review may contain spoilers for Blackout.

Historians Eileen, Mike, and Polly have finally found each other in the midst of the London Blitz. But while each had hoped that finding the others would allow them to finally go back to Oxford in 2060, they quickly realize that the drops that will allow them to time travel back are still not working. As they grapple with the reality that the likely reason for their inability to travel back is that they have altered the past and caused the Allies to lose the war, they must continue to carry on like everyone else around them. But is time travel really as clear cut as that? In a chaotic system, not everything is as it seems.

Picking up immediately after Blackout, this second half of the duology is a fantastic bit of time travel writing. With immersive historical detail of the realities of London during the Blitz, there is also the building tension as Eileen, Mike, and Polly desperately attempt to get back to their own time. I highly recommend reading the two novels back-to-back as the novels are really more like two volumes rather than two separate books. With the tension caused by the events of the Blitz as well as the trio of historians own quest the book barrels along at a fantastic pace with a lovely resolution that I stayed up late to finish. Even better than my expectations for this book. ( )
  MickyFine | Apr 12, 2016 |
I'm glad I hung with this book, even though there were some issues with it, same as I mentioned with the first. The characters weren't well developed, and the "conflict" was repetitively mentioned, but it was a fun brain teaser, trying to figure out the time conundrum and also learning more about the Blitz.

I do want to read The Doomsday Book, too bad its not on Kindle or Audible. ( )
  sydsavvy | Apr 8, 2016 |
Man this was a long story. I feel pretty sure that the whole thing could have been done in one 600 page book instead of two separate books (the first was "Blackout") adding up to over a thousand pages. Not a real favorite but I give it a 4 out of 5 becasue of the great characters and a real authentic WWII London feel. ( )
  ndpmcIntosh | Mar 21, 2016 |
"That's no way to talk in the presence of ladies, you bleedin' sod," the first man said belligerently….
"Beggin' your pardon, misses. I shouldn't 'ave called 'Itler a little bastard. 'E's the biggest bastard what ever lived."

I think I have an ulcer now. The suspense, the frenetic pace of the book – hurry here, get diverted, rush elsewhere, find or miss that being looked for, if found that thing leads to another search, sprint here and there, hither and yon, at top speed, with constant interruptions and rerouting and balks and blocks and detours and dead ends… Needing to be at point A, and being required to go to point B, and then there's point C, which is equidistant to B from A… and then point D gets thrown in for good measure, also equidistant. Will they make it?! People squirting off in all directions, appearing and disappearing and obstructing and getting injured and waylaid and oh lord what now without notice. So many interruptions and interceptions and all so very well-meaning, or so very necessary, and … Yikes.

But rarely has an ulcer ever been earned in so enjoyable a fashion.

These aren't "easy" books. Not only is there the cross-stitch element of time travel to take into account, but Connie Willis isn't easy on her characters. Oh, sure, the comedy can be flowing – say, Alf and Binnie up to high-larious hijinks … but then a moment later comes the reminder that these two irrepressible vivacious children are, like everyone else in England (most of Europe), constantly under a Damoclean sword, with doom hanging by the finest of horsehairs over their heads. You just never know how it's going to go – anyone could die (everyone could die), or be left behind, or be somehow discovered, at any moment – or a fellow time traveler could show up, or time could be irretrievably altered…

Connie Willis has an intensely frustrating way of cutting away to one of the side plots – and then bringing that action to a crisis point at the end of the chapter and … returning to the main story again. Argh. And I say that with the greatest respect.

On the other hand, Connie Willis is so easy to read. Her writing is as transparent as good glass – by which I mean it's so good it disappears, leaving her characters and their settings in full color and three dimensions in your mind. Nothing is predictable, everything is immediate (Connie Willis doesn't need to use the present tense to create immediacy), and the suspense can be intense. And all the while she will make you laugh –

"Oh, dear. I do hope I didn't say anything I shouldn't have. I didn't confess undying love to some girl fifty years my junior, did I? Or quote Peter Pan?"

– and make you cry –

"We live in hope that the good we do here on earth will be rewarded in heaven. We also hope to win the war. We hope that right and goodness will triumph, and that when the war is won, we shall have a better world. And we work toward that end. We buy war bonds and put out incendiaries and knit stockings---"
And pumpkin-colored scarves, Polly thought.
"---and volunteer to take in evacuated children and work in hospitals and drive ambulances" - here Alf grinned and nudged Eileen sharply in the ribs - "and man anti-aircraft guns. We join the Home Guard and the ATS and the Civil Defence, but we cannot know whether the scrap metal we collect, the letter we write to a solider, the vegetables we grow, will turn out in the end to have helped win the war or not. We act in faith.
"But the vital thing is that we act. We do not rely on hope alone, thought hope is our bulwark, our light through dark days and darker nights. We also work, and fight, and endure, and it does not matter whether the part we play is large or small. The reason that God marks the fall of the sparrow is that he knows that it is as important to the world as the bulldog or the wolf. We all, all must do 'our bit'. For it is through our deeds that the war will be won, through our kindness and devotion and courage that we make that better world for which we long."

- sometimes at the same time.

"We must trust in God's goodness," Miss Hibbard said, patting her hand.
Mrs. Wyvern patted it too. "God never sends us more than we can bear."
"Everything which happens is part of God's plan," the rector intoned.
Sir Godfrey came up to her, his hat in his hand.
If he has some appropriately cheerful Shakespeare quote, like "There's a divinity that shapes our ends," or "All will yet be well," I'll never forgive him, Polly thought.
"Viola," he said, and shook his head sadly. "'The rain it raineth every day.'"
I love you, she thought, tears stinging her eyes.

Connie Willis's writing is possibly the most human I know of. All the variegated emotions of humanity, and the heightened emotions of humanity at war: she's got them down.

She knew now how Theodore's neighbor felt. She wanted to shut herself in the cupboard under the stairs and stay there, even if it offered no protection at all. But that was impossible. She had to make Mr. Dunworthy soft-boiled eggs and tea and keep Alf from asking him how it felt to be blown up and Binnie from sharing her opinions of fairy tales, had to learn her lines, practice tap routines, rip ruffles off her costumes and sew sequins on them. And face Eileen's unquenchable optimism.

There are a lot of books out there (not enough, but quite a few) which feel like I could step into and find my way around. Connie Willis's world feels like it settles around me as I read – or listen – and when I have to put aside the book it seems strange that no one is dropping bombs on me and that I'm stuck in this time and place.

The narration helps a great deal in that, with these audiobooks. Katherine Kellgren is brilliant and I love her and will listen to anything she reads which isn't Fifty Shades of Anything. ( )
1 vote Stewartry | Mar 12, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 106 (next | show all)
For this reviewer, it’s not every day these days that a book arrives that makes you want to jump in the minute it lands at the doorstep. However, after my review of Black Out (the first part of this duology, reviewed HERE) this is one for me. Like many other Connie Willis fans, this book’s been a long time a-waiting for.

After the cliff-hanger ending of the first part, we get straight back into the tale. There’s a little bit of reminding of what went before (note: do read the first book first!) but pretty soon we’re back into the WW2 dilemma of Polly, Mary, and Mike. This can be a little confusing if it’s been a while since you read Black Out: you really do need to read this as one continuous novel.

The complexities of the time travel element become a little more involved here as the apparent changes in Black Out have their effect. We now find that there is a great deal of slippage: over four years, when the longest previously was about six months. Mr Dunworthy finds himself entering the fray from 2060, Mary finds herself involved with an RAF officer, whilst Mike, in his search for Gerald Phipps, finds himself at Bletchley Park and intermixing with the mathematicians involved in the ultra-secret Enigma code-breaking project. There’s also the welcome return of a character from the beginning of Black Out who has a pivotal part to play in this tale.

So we’re combining Enigma or Cryptonomicon with our previous tale. This gives Connie a chance to get away from the seemingly endless bombing of London and the London Underground shelters and tell of the quiet war, with Alan Turing and his team working in intense secret, on devising a computer/machine to be able to break the German’s unbreakable codes.

This is great fun. We also switch between times, as Phipps is in 1944 looking at the Normandy invasions and setting up false trails for the Germans.

However, by this stage it’s not easy to keep all those plot threads going. The Enigma tale is soon forgotten as we look to wider issues and the future. Managing that great balance between telling a tale in a historical context and giving readers a feel of what the place was like in the 1940’s is not easy. To say that Willis manages this is a great achievement.

On the negative side there’s a lot more running from place to place and an increasingly frustrating inability to get to drop zones. This is explained as the tale progresses - it’s all part of the book’s plan – but at times, whilst entertaining, it all seems (until the end) as a little unnecessary.

I’m also not sure that all this running around during bombing raids, and leaving messages for people about V1 and V2 attacks could have been got away with without someone becoming suspicious.

Nevertheless, by that end, the reader may feel, as I did, that they have been through a lot. There is love, death, sacrifice and complications within complications, and yet, in the end, the overall feeling is one of optimism and hope. The difficulties of the war in 1940’s England may have been replaced by bombings and global change in 2060, yet the endurance of the human condition comes through. This is a book that not only appreciates the sacrifices of the past but is a testament to endurance against crushing difficulties. What this book celebrates is that heroism comes in many ways, and not just the big heroic acts but the many minor actions often overlooked.

Whilst it is rather long – clearly a tale that grew in the telling – it is still a wonderfully worthwhile read. Most fans of Connie Willis will not be disappointed. This is a pleasure, from a formidable writer whose storytelling skills are still a treat. I’m very pleased to write that this book sustains its tale for over 1000 pages and it is a wonderfully thrilling and compelling immersive story with characters you care about.

Please don’t leave it so long before the next tale, Connie.

added by PLReader | editSFF World, Mark Yon (Dec 2, 2010)

» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Connie Willisprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brock, ChalresCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kellgren, KatherineNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kennedy, SteveDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Omori, N.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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You will make all kinds of mistakes; but as long as you are generous and true, and also fierce, you cannot hurt the world or even seriously distress her. --Winston Churchill
To all the ambulance drivers, firewatchers, air-raid wardens, nurses, canteen workers, airplane spotters, rescue workere, mathematicians, vicars, vergers, shopgirls, chorus girls, librarians, debutantes, spinsters, fishermen, retired sailors, servants, evacuees, Shakespearean actors, and mystery novelists who won the war.
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By noon Michael and Merope still hadn't returned from Stepney, and Polly was beginning to get really worried.
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When three Oxford historians become unexpectedly trapped in 1940, they struggle not only to find their way home but to survive as Hitler's bombers attempt to pummel London into submission. Meanwhile, in 2060 Oxford, the historians' supervisor and seventeen-year-old Colin Templer are engaged in a frantic and seemingly impossible struggle to find them.… (more)

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