Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

All Clear by Connie Willis

All Clear (edition 2012)

by Connie Willis

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,221926,528 (4.08)210
Title:All Clear
Authors:Connie Willis
Info:Gollancz (2012), Paperback, 800 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:read 2013, sci-fi

Work details

All Clear by Connie Willis

  1. 20
    Farthing by Jo Walton (ryvre)
  2. 00
    The Little Book by Selden Edwards (becksdakex)
    becksdakex: Time travel, WWII, change history?
  3. 02
    The A.B.C. Murders by Agatha Christie (sturlington)
    sturlington: Referenced several times in All Clear.

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 210 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 91 (next | show all)
(This is a review for both Blackout and All Clear, because they are really one book)

Connie Willis is one of my favorite writers, mainly because she combines history and science fiction so very well. What also helps is that her novels are sort of wish-fulfillment for me, because they have historians from the now (well, the future now) travel to the past to study it, even if the historians usually get into trouble. The first book I read by Willis was "Doomsday Book", which takes place in 1300s/2060, well in my favorite historic period, the middle ages. The second book was "To Say Nothing Of the Dog", taking place in 1800s/2060, not my favorite period, but the Victorians are still interesting and entertaining. The latest time travelling historians book(s) is/are "Blackout" and "All Clear", two novels that are one story (they cannot be read out-of-order or separately). This story takes place in 1940/45 and 2060, the Second World War in England. Definitely not my favorite period, too close to home. Because of that I was hesitant to read this story. Eventually the fact that it was by Willis won out over my non-love (not hate) for the period. And I am so glad I did, because this story was terrific.

We're back with the Oxford historians in the 2060s. Several students have trips planned to the past for their research. However, the lab is canceling trips left and right and switching schedules around. Michael, Polly and Merope try their best to have their trips to the past happen anyway, despite being less than well prepared. Merope goes to the English countryside in WWII, as a servant at a country house that has taken in evacuated children from London. Polly is in London during the Blitz, safe because she knows where the bombs will hit. And Michael is near Dover to experience the evacuation of British soldiers from France by the local fishermen.
But the lab had its reasons for being so panicky with regards to the time-travel trips. Because things don't seem to happen as they should. And our students are doing things that seem to affect the past. Could they, by saving one of their local friends or by being caught up in the moment, change the outcome of the Battle of Britain? And how will they return to Oxford, now that the drop sites seem disabled? And is Professor Dunworthy just going to leave them stuck in the past?

Because the historians in these stories are remarkably similar to us (living in relative peace, with advanced technology) their observations of the period of WWII and the people living through that time are very relatable. Even for me, someone who rather avoids any 'entertainment' to do with WWII, these two books were great. I think the fact that the story is contained in England (mostly London and surroundings) and because the people who Merope, Polly and Michael meet are just the regular people from the street, it makes it hit home. People working in a store, trying to keep their daily lives going despite nightly bombing raids. The time-travel adventure (will they return home, have they ruined the future, will they die in the past?) is very good too, and you feel the sense of urgency in the story. Simply terrific, and I really understand why this book has already won the big three awards of science fiction (Hugo, Nebula and Locus) and was nominated for one more (Campbell memorial award). For me, both parts are five out of five stars. ( )
  divinenanny | Aug 3, 2014 |
Second of two books about ordinary people who endured the "Blitz" in London during WWII. The characters more fully developed and we began to love Alf and Binnie, the two child hellions orphaned. Chronology skipped around, so I had to pay attention to when we were. Listening to another 24 hour book was somewhat tedious and I thought the two books could have been shortened. The ending made the listener feel good with mysteries solved and time travelers all in their places. ( )
  buffalogr | Jun 14, 2014 |
Expletive deleted!!!!! This was the worst dreck I have suffered through in years. It was a 37-car wreck on the interstate. So why did I read this pos? Well I made the mistake of reading part 1, which was also horrid, and just like passing a 37-car pile up on the interstate, you know you shouldn't look, but you just can't help slowing down and gawking, I wanted to see it this trash could get any worse. AND IT COULD. Page after page, even skipping vast wastelands of keystone cop-eqsue scenes people unable to find themselves (sometimes EVEN IN THE SAME ROOM) you get to the end. (She wrote the same scene over and over and over, about 2734 times, by my estimate. I felt sorry for her editor. Wait, maybe she didn't have an editor, which would explain the repetitious nature.) It wasn't worth it. Save yourself the trouble. Use it as a door stop.

Oh, did I mention, I didn't like it? ( )
  bke | Mar 30, 2014 |

Time-travel with three main characters that are supposedly historians who are seemingly incapable of taking care of themselves. One character has trouble finding a black skirt. Working on Oxford Street. In a large departement store.

The three main characters turn everything into a huge problem and every chapter is a cliff-hanger with most of them fake scares. At the end of the book you just want the blasted thing to end.

Some of the supporting characters are quite engaging, human and well written but these books are ruined by the inner monologue of the trio from the future. Whingebags, the lot of them.

I have decided to read all the Hugo and Nebula winners come hell or high water and this book is so far one of the low points.
( )
  StigE | Feb 22, 2014 |
In Oxford of 2060, historians don't just read books and manuscripts. The development of time travel had made their profession a lot more exciting and all of them are traveling between the most dangerous parts of the world. There are two big rules in time travel - you cannot be at the same twice and historians cannot influence the past. [All Clear] is the second part of a duology (or a long novel split in two - your choice how you want to call it). In the first part, [Blackout], a few historians start on separate assignments in WWII - the V1 and V2 bombs, Dover, the evacuation of the children, the Blitz. In the meantime, back in Oxford, some scientists start asking difficult questions. Part of the traveling is that you can end up there later than you planned (or in a distance from the goal). The historians had always presumed that this is the time-space continium making sure that they do not influence the past. But anyone that had read [Doomsday Book] or had spent even 10 minutes thinking on the topic would realize that as long as they get to the past, they already change it. Or that would have been true for a linear system - which time is not - it is a chaotic one so things work out at the end. Until 3 of hour young historian (Polly, Mike and Eileen) find themselves stuck in the middle of the London Blitz.

And this is where [All Clear] opens. The drops are not opening, the world is going crazy and they cannot do anything to save themselves. In the meantime, in 1944 and 1945, another set of historians are working on their assignments. Between all of them, the War emerges. Fortitude South, Bletchley Park, the raids, the Blitz, the people, the soldiers, the young girls that turn from just children to drivers and nurses and helpers. Willis may have written a SF novel but if you forget for a second who our historians are, if you remove the parts where they know what is going to happen and their thoughts because they know it, the novel (the set of novels really) is a marvelous picture of a country in a war - completed with all the heroes (who are real people and act as such here) and everything that a nation did in order to help the world defeat Hitler. Because of the places where our protagonists were situated, we see the full expanse of the war - the tragedies and the comedies in it. And every time when you decide that something was exaggerated, that there was no way things to have been that hard or that chaotic, all you need to do is to pick up a history book. And to realize that what seems impossible had been the easy parts of that war; the things that you cannot even imagine is what had been the little complicated ones. And Britain, and the rest of the good guys had managed to do not just these but the impossible things, the ones that noone in their right mind would have expected to work out (such as the whole Fortitude plan - it would have taken one single idiot to ruin it and ruin Normandy and yet it worked).

And in the middle of this, Polly, Mike and Eileen try to find their way home. But while it is happening, they keep getting pulled into the normal activities of the war. And keep influencing and changing things. The Hodbins reappear (but of course), the troupe is back at rehearsing, the wrapping of packages is still a chore and the war goes on. The novel tone is hurried, everything could finish tomorrow and the historians are running out of time. And it can get a bit repetitious - all of the worries of the historians added to the worries of the war and of the fact that even if they are from the future, they don't know every minute detail of the past. As the end of the novel draws close, the different story lines start collapsing into each other; what had been hinted gets confirmed and... the historians are still stuck - with approaching deadlines (when other, earlier versions of them had already been) and death and loss. And all those warnings from the theorists and the possibility that the past can be changed; that they may have caused Hitler to win this war.

It takes a few words said by a stranger for Polly to realize what is really happening; a truth that had been so obvious ever since the first book (or even earlier in the series). But the most obvious is usually the hardest to see. And it takes a boy in love that is not ready to give up. And the realization of who that boy is at the final pages of the novel is what brings the story full circle. ( )
3 vote AnnieMod | Jan 19, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 91 (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 (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Connie Willisprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kellgren, KatherineNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Omori, N.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Information from the French Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to the English one.
Original title
Information from the French Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to the English one.
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
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.
First words
By noon Michael and Merope still hadn't returned from Stepney, and Polly was beginning to get really worried.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
Haiku summary

No descriptions found.

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)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 7 descriptions

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
538 wanted5 pay9 pay

Popular covers


Average: (4.08)
0.5 1
1 5
2 11
2.5 4
3 63
3.5 34
4 163
4.5 41
5 142


Two editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

See editions

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 92,120,866 books! | Top bar: Always visible