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Blackout

by Connie Willis

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: All Clear (1), Oxford Time Travel series (3)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,9252083,974 (3.84)476
When a time-travel lab suddenly cancels assignments for no apparent reason and switches around everyone's schedules, time-traveling historians Michael, Merope, and Polly find themselves in World War II, facing air raids, blackouts, unexploded bombs, dive-bombing Stukas, rationing, shrapnel, V-1s, and two of the most incorrigible children in all of history--to say nothing of a growing feeling that not only their assignments but the war and history itself are spiraling out of control.… (more)
  1. 150
    To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis (pwaites)
  2. 60
    Fire Watch by Connie Willis (clee67)
  3. 30
    Farthing by Jo Walton (SusannainSC)
  4. 20
    11/22/63 by Stephen King (Navarone)
    Navarone: Both books are about time travel and how the future is affected due to the actions you make.
  5. 01
    The Little Book by Selden Edwards (becksdakex)
    becksdakex: Time travel, WWII, Change history?
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» See also 476 mentions

English (203)  German (2)  Polish (1)  All languages (206)
Showing 1-5 of 203 (next | show all)
Trapped in the twentieth century under enemy attack, will historians from the twenty-first century survive the London blitz in 1940? The time-travel lab at Balliol College at Oxford University was a hectic place when they left in April 2060. Assignments had been switched at the last minute, and there was an unusual amount of slippage. They emerged from their drops later than they had been scheduled to arrive. And now their drops, their passages back to their own time, aren’t working, Hitler is ready to invade, and the Luftwaffe is doing its best to turn London into a smoking pile of rubble. Could they have done something that has changed history? ( )
  MaowangVater | Sep 1, 2022 |
This book is actually the first half of the All Clear duo. Together they come to some 1168 pages and, personally, I feel that they could have been published as one novel rather than splitting them in two. Both books centre on time travel from Oxford 2060 back into the past to recover historical items, in this case for the rebuilding of a certain Cathedral.

The book is broken down into three episodic narratives, each from the point of one of the historians covered in the book, and it tends to jump from one narrative to another as it progresses. This can become a little confusing at times if, as a reader you are not used to either this Authors writing style, or the jumping around from one scenario to the next. However, I didn’t feel that this style of writing hurt the book in any way; after all it is a novel about time travel, which in its nature jumps around from one place to the next.

The three main protagonists are likeable enough characters, and they are instilled with humour, compassion and worry. They worry if they will get home, they worry if their being in a particular timeline will alter their future, and most of all they care about and worry for those they come into contact with in World War II London. This brings us to the remainder of the cast of characters, of which there seems to be thousands; there are Soldiers at Dunkirk, civilians in the Blitz and many, many more; but for however briefly they appear in the storyline, this Author manages to write into each one their own personality and traits. It is a credit to the writing style of this Author that she is able to make these people from the past, not just some image in our mind, but actually come to life as living, breathing people that we care for and cheer on.

The story is long and at times slow-moving, it also has plenty of things that don’t make sense if you really stop to think about it; but the time the Author takes to describe the effect of the bombing of London, the way the population rallies round each family hit and their stoical remarks as one night of air raids runs into another, and another, make the slow-moving pages feel rather like a break from the horror of the bombings. Regardless of the slower moving sections, the storyline was engaging and gripping enough to keep me reading on to the cliffhanger ending, and then make sure I read the second part of the story.

Despite the topic of the Blitz, the Author manages to capture the dark the wit and humour of that era, and add to it a little piece of mystery and a touch of romance. The plot is extremely complex and the way in which the Author is able to take a multitude of disjointed plots and subplots and weave them into the cliffhanger ending of this book, makes this a very enjoyable read. The Author succeeds in taking the reader out of their own world for a while and into the Blitz of World War II; it is done in such a way that the serious and tragic nature of the subject matter is served up with enough humour to make it bearable – even uplifting.

I would recommend this book to readers who enjoy time travel genre, but are also open to satire and humour in their chosen reading material. As there is nothing offensive in this book, I would also have no problem in recommending it as a YA read.

Originally reviewed on: http://catesbooknuthut.wordpress.com/2013/08/27/review-blackout-all-clear-1-conn...




This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
( )
  Melline | Aug 13, 2022 |
I know this and the second book are supposed to be one book cut in two, but I'm still annoyed when a book in a series doesn't have much of an ending of its own. Also, there are multiple people going through similar things (in different places) in turn over many chapters, so it starts to feel repetitive and stagnant. There is also sometimes way too much going on. The same characters have different names at different times, so it can be confusing when another section of story starts and you don't know if these are the same people or different people, which kind of shows how little the characters can develop if they're time traveling incognito. Still, interesting premise. Once I'm done with these, I'll probably read the earlier ones in the same universe that I missed somehow. ( )
  J.Flux | Aug 13, 2022 |
Not as hugely fun as some of Willis's earlier time-travel ventures, but they may be because I'm getting a bit too used to it. More than a solid effort by any measure with, obviously loads of research contributing to creating a believable sense (that might sound week, but I am in no position to judge the accuracy here, only the verisimilitude) of everyday life and everyday people in 1940s England. ( )
  ehines | Jun 2, 2022 |
I stopped at page 152 and put it down for a solid week. She kept introducing even more characters and spreading vague foreboding without any actual plot movement or development. After a chapter that was mostly tricking the reader with a stupid pun, I just got too annoyed and disconnected from the story. I'm already losing track of who is who, since I don't really care about any of them.

I'll go back to it, because I trust her, but this isn't a pleasant read so far.

It doesn't get better.

Lots of interesting stuff about London during the Blitz, but I just don't care about the characters, to the point where I keep getting Polly and Eileen mixed up, even when they are talking to each other. ( )
  wunder | Feb 3, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 203 (next | show all)
Science fiction and the historical novel only seem to be utter opposites. I mean, future vs. past, right? In fact, the two genres are closely related. Both transport the reader to strange, disorienting worlds, where the people, beliefs and social norms are often distinctly alien to a present-day sensibility.

In certain kinds of time-travel stories, it's often difficult to tell the two genres apart. Is "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court" historical fiction or proto science fiction? Certainly, Connie Willis's new novel, her first since "Passage" (2001), about near-death experiences, is as vivid an evocation of England during World War II as anyone has ever written. It's also indisputably science fiction. . . .

If you're a science-fiction fan, you'll want to read this book by one of the most honored writers in the field (10 Hugos, six Nebulas); if you're interested in World War II, you should pick up "Blackout" for its you-are-there authenticity; and if you just like to read, you'll find here a novelist who can plot like Agatha Christie and whose books possess a bounce and stylishness that Preston Sturges might envy.

That said, "Blackout" does end with a cliffhanger, which may leave some readers dissatisfied: The whole story won't be completely resolved till October when Ballantine/Spectra publishes a second and concluding volume titled "All-Clear." Still, this is Connie Willis, my friends, which means she's worth reading now, and she's worth reading in the future.
 
What she's also able to do is to play her reader like a newly tuned piano. Scenes that could be milked for every last mawkish drop somehow get around your defenses and wring out your heart.
 

» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Connie Willisprimary authorall editionscalculated
Brock, ChalresCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kellgren, KatherineNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kennedy, SteveText Designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Omori, N.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Potter, J.K.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vicens, PaulaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wintrebert, JoëlleTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
History is now and England. - T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets
Dedication
To Courtney and Cordelia, who always do far more than their bit.
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Colin tried the door, but it was locked.
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When a time-travel lab suddenly cancels assignments for no apparent reason and switches around everyone's schedules, time-traveling historians Michael, Merope, and Polly find themselves in World War II, facing air raids, blackouts, unexploded bombs, dive-bombing Stukas, rationing, shrapnel, V-1s, and two of the most incorrigible children in all of history--to say nothing of a growing feeling that not only their assignments but the war and history itself are spiraling out of control.

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