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Doomsday Book (1992)

by Connie Willis

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Oxford Time Travel series (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
6,998328998 (4.1)1 / 839
For Kivrin, preparing an on-site study of one of the deadliest eras in humanity's history was as simple as receiving inoculations against the diseases of the fourteenth century and inventing an alibi for a woman traveling alone. For her instructors in the twenty-first century, it meant painstaking calculations and careful monitoring of the rendezvous location where Kivrin would be received. But a crisis strangely linking past and future strands Kivrin in a bygone age as her fellows try desperately to rescue her. In a time of superstition and fear, Kivrin -- barely of age herself -- finds she has become an unlikely angel of hope during one of history's darkest hours.… (more)
  1. 264
    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. 163
    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. 121
    Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks (labfs39)
  4. 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.
  5. 70
    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.
  6. 70
    The Door into Summer by Robert A. Heinlein (Kichererbse)
  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. 10
    The Years of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson (sturlington)
  11. 10
    Just One Damned Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor (Aug3Zimm)
    Aug3Zimm: Time travel to the past as part of educational study
  12. 87
    The Time Machine by H. G. Wells (JGolomb)
  13. 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
  14. 00
    11/22/63 by Stephen King (Othemts)
  15. 00
    The Plague by Albert Camus (aulsmith)
    aulsmith: Two books that depict how communities deal with plagues.
  16. 12
    Company of Liars by Karen Maitland (Othemts)
  17. 34
    Timeline by Michael Crichton (labrick)
  18. 02
    The Time Ships by Stephen Baxter (JGolomb)
  19. 13
    Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel (Anonymous user)
    Anonymous user: This is another book that really brings a period of history to life around you.
  20. 49
    World War Z by Max Brooks (cmbohn)

(see all 20 recommendations)

1990s (72)
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» See also 839 mentions

English (323)  Spanish (2)  French (2)  All languages (327)
Showing 1-5 of 323 (next | show all)
One of the best. Period. ( )
  SocProf9740 | Jul 11, 2021 |
A dry, slow, humorless, illness-focused story involving a lot of people consistently failing to understand one another in normal conversation. Characters who are supposed to be highly educated and quite clever are unable to understand simple statements or make themselves understood using the same. The smartest and most believable character is a 12 year old boy, who acts more realisticly than any of the adults.

I don't enjoy reading descriptions of people who are ill, their symptoms, the methods of caring for them, or the anguish they're experiencing. I find descriptions of young people and children becoming ill and dying especially unpleasant. These made up a significant portion of this book, and they were wearying without adding anything of value to my experience.

There were some questions posed very early on in the story that the characters were fixated on. While the answers were obvious to the reader, the questions were not answered in any satisfying way for the characters until 2/3 of the way through the book, by which time their quest for answers that were painfully obvious to the reader was beyond tedious. Even after the elements of the story have started to come together, it is still depressing, tedious, and myopically focused on illnesses.

I like the idea of a story where the conflict is almost entirely between people and sickness rather than between different people, but this take on it is just too bleak for my tastes. I found the way it wrapped up to be satisfying, just not enough to justify the slog that got me there. ( )
1 vote wishanem | May 27, 2021 |
This one surprised me many times, lots of clever bits and humor, but then it settles into some harrowing emotional stuff by the end. ( )
  francoisvigneault | May 17, 2021 |
I really love this historical fiction/time travel mashup. I'm looking forward to the rest of the series. Curious to see which characters are regulars.

And, ftr, I don't think I'll ever forget that the Black Plague arrived in Great Britain in 1348. ( )
  KittyCunningham | Apr 26, 2021 |
I had read this before, so I knew what was coming. A little hard to read about pandemic's under the current conditions.

I like that Kivrin struggles to understand people in the past. How can we really know how the language sounded in the past? When Prince Arthur and Catherine of Aragon were in engaged they wrote to each other in Latin. Than when she arrived they found they could not understand each other because they had been taught different pronunciations.

Collin was a lot of fun. I loved William Gaddson and his mother. ( )
  nx74defiant | Feb 25, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 323 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Willis, Connieprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brumm, WalterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Carella, MariaDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gibbs, ChristopherCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jacobus, TimCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kapočiūtė, AnitaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kastel,RogerCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kuittinen, TeroTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Marín Trechera, RafaelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Martiniere, StephanCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ponziot, J.M.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pugi, Jean-PierreTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
RailleCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Richter, TonCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Roberts, AdamIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sargent, PamelaIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sohár, AnikóTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sterlin, JennyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Törnqvist, EvastinaTranslatorsecondary 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.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
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Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (1)

For Kivrin, preparing an on-site study of one of the deadliest eras in humanity's history was as simple as receiving inoculations against the diseases of the fourteenth century and inventing an alibi for a woman traveling alone. For her instructors in the twenty-first century, it meant painstaking calculations and careful monitoring of the rendezvous location where Kivrin would be received. But a crisis strangely linking past and future strands Kivrin in a bygone age as her fellows try desperately to rescue her. In a time of superstition and fear, Kivrin -- barely of age herself -- finds she has become an unlikely angel of hope during one of history's darkest hours.

No library descriptions found.

Book description
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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