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Blackout Audiobook

Blackout

In her first novel since 2002, Nebula and Hugo award-winning author Connie Willis returns with a stunning, enormously entertaining novel of time travel, war, and the deeds - great and small - of ordinary people who shape history. In the hands of this acclaimed storyteller, the past and future collideand the result is at once intriguing, elusive, and frightening.
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Publisher's Summary

In her first novel since 2002, Nebula and Hugo award-winning author Connie Willis returns with a stunning, enormously entertaining novel of time travel, war, and the deeds - great and small - of ordinary people who shape history.

Oxford in 2060 is a chaotic place. Scores of time-traveling historians are being sent into the past, to destinations including the American Civil War and the attack on the World Trade Center. Michael Davies is prepping to go to Pearl Harbor. Merope Ward is coping with a bunch of bratty 1940 evacuees and trying to talk her thesis adviser, Mr. Dunworthy, into letting her go to VE Day. Polly Churchill's next assignment will be as a shopgirl in the middle of London's Blitz. And 17-year-old Colin Templer, who has a major crush on Polly, is determined to go to the Crusades so that he can catch up to her in age. But now the time-travel lab is suddenly canceling assignments for no apparent reason and switching around everyones schedules. And when Michael, Merope, and Polly finally get to World War II, things just get worse. For there they face 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. Because suddenly the once-reliable mechanisms of time travel are showing significant glitches, and our heroes are beginning to question their most firmly held belief: that no historian can possibly change the past.

BONUS AUDIO: In an exclusive introduction, author Connie Willis discusses her fascination with WWII and the historic context of Blackout.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Blackout is the first volume of a two-part novel. To find out what happens to the time-traveling historians from Oxford, we invite you to download the concluding volume, All Clear.

Listen to Connie Willis and Carrie Vaughn: A Conversation. And listen to All Clear.

©2010 Connie Willis (P)2010 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

  • Nebula Award, Best Novel, 2010
  • Hugo Award, Best Novel, 2011
  • Best SF and Fantasy Books of 2010: Readers' Choice (SF Site)

“If you're a science-fiction fan, you'll want to read this book by one of the most honored writers in the field; 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.” (The Washington Post)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.8 (2483 )
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4.3 (1698 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Joel 02-15-14
    Joel 02-15-14
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
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    11
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    Story
    "Good story, poor execution"
    What did you like best about Blackout? What did you like least?

    Its a splendid idea for a story. However, the execution is repetitious and long-winded.


    What could Connie Willis have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    Shorten it by a hundred pages or so.


    What does Katherine Kellgren and Connie Willis bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Kellgren does a wonderful job. Ms. Willis could have quickened the pace by omitting the unnecessary dialogue and description. For example, the characters fret and speculate over their fate, or the reason for their situation far too much. It becomes repetitious and boring.


    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kevin AUSTIN, TX, United States 04-04-13
    Kevin AUSTIN, TX, United States 04-04-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
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    "Good history, Lackluster Scifi"
    What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

    The fictional (although based in fact) historical stories about what life in WW2 might have been like were great. I don't need my history to be completely about facts and dates of great men doing great things. The little things can be just as interesting. Not so great was the time travel component. The time travelers give a good perspective for those of us not living through a war, but the contrivances of plot were unnecessary at best and distractingly bad at worst. I don't need my scifi to be "hard" to enjoy it, but I feel like the Historians really don't live up to that title. It seems to me that they are a narrative convenience rather than something something necessary to telling some great stories about WW2.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Petry Santa Barbara, CA USA 03-30-13
    David Petry Santa Barbara, CA USA 03-30-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
    10
    ratings
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    Story
    "Petty Problems"

    I quit listening after an hour or so. The story reputedly revolves around time-traveling historians going back to study key events during WWII. Maybe it gets there. But the bulk of the story in the beginning is about the historians' scheduling troubles and petty frustrations with drop dates and locations. The story never really starts and there are several useless and inane concepts, like historical events that cannot be entered because they are too critical, or downloading languages or Shakespeare in their entirety. Frivolous.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    carla Monkton, VT, United States 03-17-13
    carla Monkton, VT, United States 03-17-13 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    6
    ratings
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    Story
    "Sloooooowwwwww story"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    The concept of the entire series is very good, and the historic element is excellent. However, there is way, way too much repetition of individual character's thoughts and worries.


    What was most disappointing about Connie Willis’s story?

    Also, the details of travelling via trains and underground, schedules and stopped trips are excessive.


    What about Katherine Kellgren and Connie Willis ’s performance did you like?

    Reading and changing voices for different people is very good


    Could you see Blackout being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

    no


    Any additional comments?

    I am listening to these as audio books so I can not skip these tedious parts. Had I been reading, I would have skipped through at least half the text.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anne 02-02-12
    Anne 02-02-12 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Engaging Plot, Great Historical Detail"

    I love Connie Willis's books on time traveling, and in this one the historians travel to WWII London. The characters and plot drew me in, and the details brought this time to life. My comprehension of WWII history had been a collection of facts; Connie Willis puts a very human face on the war's impact on daily life in Britain. I think that this book, and its sequel "All Clear," could be used as part of teaching WWII history, because it gives a story context to the facts - and it is very entertaining! The narrator's voice and delivery occasionally annoyed me. She had a habit of raising the pitch and increasing volume at the end of sentences - a minor annoyance.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lindsey 01-31-12
    Lindsey 01-31-12

    I have to save my sensitive eyes for thesis-writing, so audiobooks are how I keep up with my favourite authors and have fun.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Fantastic"

    I love Connie Willis books, and this one and its sequel "All Clear" are two of my favourites. They put you smack in the middle of the action in WWII, and treat the experience with expertise and sensitivity, while maintaining a fantastic time-travel storyline.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Columbia, MD USA 08-15-11
    Amazon Customer Columbia, MD USA 08-15-11 Member Since 2008

    dog sports enthusiast

    HELPFUL VOTES
    13
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    "Great story"

    Time travel and the revisiting of a few characters we've met in some of Connie Willis's other books are the initial hook. But that is sidelined by the absorbing story of how the British coped with World War 2. One of the best narrators I've listened to polish off both this and its continuation (the book All Clear).

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ana 02-26-11
    Ana 02-26-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A gem -- like all of Connie Willis's work"

    I imagine that if you don't know Connie Willis Historians and their particular form of time travel you may have something of a hard time with this book and it's second part "All Clear". I enjoy CW's time travel books as historical novels just as much as I enjoy them as science fiction books. Her portrayals of whichever periods her Historians are visiting are magnificent. But if you want to really enjoy her time-travel books I'd say read "To Say Nothing of the Dog" first because that one will help you better understand her whole time travel concept --it is also a great book, of course and laugh-out-loud funny-- I don't think she explains time travel much in "Blackout" and "All Clear". I read a review where someone is puzzled by Polly's desperate search for a black skirt and someone else wonders about the frequent mention of the drop and I can see how those things don't quite seem important if you don't know CW's approach to time travel and history. But if you do, oh if you do, how very much sense it all makes, how very important those things are and how well you enjoy it all. When you are done with "All Clear", make sure to read "Firewatch" a short story where we meet Mr. Bartholomew in the flesh! and we re-encounter Kivrin! She's doing well. I love this woman's work, she's given me many hours of happiness. I am sure there is a special place reserved for her in Cori Celesti.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bikerclimber 02-06-11 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "OK, but..."

    Well researched period piece, but I have to say the book went nowhere. Every review mentions the abrupt end, and even though I was prepared I had to say "Huh?" when the book ended. I don't have the interest or patience to endure the second book. Both books should be edited down to a combined 4-5 hour story. This story is so repetitious about "the drop" and a complete lack of tension or insight of what really may be happening back at the home office, that I feel I wasted my time with this one. I did finish the book out of stubbornness, but I will not bother to get the sequel. I have a couple of hundred of Audible books, I love Audible, and this is one of only two books I'm sorry I purchased. (No fault of Audible).

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Karen Tigard, OR, United States 11-08-10
    Karen Tigard, OR, United States 11-08-10 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
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    1
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    0
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    "No Character Development"

    Cool concept and it seems like it was well researched but I kept waiting to get to know the characters. The only thing the time travelers ever thought about was how to get back home. No matter what was going on around them or how much people tried to connect with them, they were like robots. Perhaps this author should collaborate with another author who is better at developing characters. There is so much potential. I also couldn't believe how the book ended without an ending at all. I will not buy the second book for two reasons. First, I can't take another book of flat characters. Second I feel like I was manipulated. Its like one book was split in half so I would have to pay twice as much to get a story with an ending. Most books that have sequels, still have their own ending (i.e. resolution). This was very strange.

    8 of 10 people found this review helpful
Sort by:
  • Marc Marot
    Oxford UK
    11/10/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "This really is terrible"
    What disappointed you about Blackout?

    Seems to have been written by someone who's simply not aware of technology... Has the tone of a book written by a spinster history teacher... Patronising and just awful


    Has Blackout put you off other books in this genre?

    No


    How could the performance have been better?

    Terrible narration... Shouts and am-dram


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Utter disappointment... Couldn't finish it.


    Any additional comments?

    This is the first audible book out of nearly 80 purchases that I've had to delete to stop me smashing my iPad.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • MISS
    7/14/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Not as riveting as previous books (Doomsday Book)"

    Disappointing compared to the previous books-very slow pace. Also the narrator had an unusual way of pronouncing words 'passage' 'almost' which was a little off putting. However, I shall be downloading the follow up book to find out what happens to the characters.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Kevin McSweeney
    6/3/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Atmospheric"

    Another excellent story. Even the the very minor mistakes were enchanting. I will buy the next installment immediately and let my Mother who lived through the Blitz in Stepney as a young girl listen to Blackout. The Blitz Spirit did exist but there was also an increase in crime and petty jobsworths and this is shown wonderfully in the book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Valerie
    Highworth, Swindon, Wilts.
    5/27/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Bomb alley"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes, I would recommend it as a good story, however the narration was poor, so I would recommend that they read it rather than listen.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Not really relevant as there are numerous characters.


    What three words best describe Connie Willis and Katherine Kellgren ’s performance?

    Katherine Kellgren's performance was ok however there were some strange pronunciations, e.g parssage for passage; parsenger for passenger. It was very odd.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    The story didn't have the depth of characterisation that would require slow considered reading.


    Any additional comments?

    It's full of anachronisms. Towards the end I was enjoying spotting them. Examples were, currency was not pennies but pence; temperatures were given in centigrade rather than Fahrenheit; people playing an American game Parcheesi etc. there were loads. Also the two books are really part one and part two of the same book so it's a bit of a rip off!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Brace, Brace, Brace
    London
    5/22/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "More History than Time Travel"
    Where does Blackout rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Oh amazing if you have interesting in WW2 London History


    Which scene did you most enjoy?

    Commander and Saltram-on-sea


    Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    The scale of human loss during the blitz


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Karen
    Sheffield, United Kingdom
    3/1/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "second world war."

    I love time travel books. having listened to to say nothing of the dog etc, and doomsday book I was looking forward to blackout.
    I did think the author spent too much time in oxford 2060, which didn't add much to the story, once past that point I thought it was a good book as she concentrated on the people sent back to 1940/44.
    the main characters, Eileen (morpe), polly and mike were well written as they carried out their assignments, maid dealing with evacuees, assistant in a store and reporter covering Dunkirk.
    there were mistakes in the pronunciation of words and one chapter heading but it is fiction after all.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • W. Mettler
    London, UK
    12/24/12
    Overall
    "Slight disappointment"

    The quality of narration is very good. Unfortunatelly the content does not live up to the quality of the form. I have listened to a third of the book and now feel that I am probably done with it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Kevin
    Bristol, United Kingdom
    10/4/12
    Overall
    "Takes a long time to go nowhere"

    A worthy intent does not necessarily a good work make & here's a perfect example. Takes an interesting premise & then drags it out with repeated situations, dialogue & later an obsessive focus on the attempts to get home via the retrieval team ( if a two words could be worn out in a book this one does it!). I do want to know what happens in the end but I really don't think I can take another 23 hours for part 2. I'm off to look for a summary of All Clear & find something worth my time.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • elizabeth
    Ferndown, United Kingdom
    6/5/11
    Overall
    "Lovely story, shame about the pronunciation errors"

    I really enjoyed the whole story, but suggest that you obtain 'All Clear' by the author at the same time. As others have written, occasionally the pronunciation leaves a lot to be desired but this can be traded off against the hours of listening pleasure given by the plot of the story. I found the travelling back and forth between WWII and Oxford 2060 surprisingly easy to follow, but occasionally jumps in the story made me wish I had a paper copy of the book to remind myself of links.
    If you are a serious historian you will find some portrayals irritating. But for the rest of us, well worth the download.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Philip
    Fareham, United Kingdom
    12/7/10
    Overall
    "Slow Fade to Black"

    The idea of this book has great potential, but the author fails to achieve it. The plot is developed at an incredibly slow pace, with lots of repetition and with much confusion over the dates involved, which is totally unacceptable in a multi-group time-jaunting story. It is claimed to be highly accurate in its research, but this is not deserved, as there is a crudely misunderstood depiction of most of the British characters, which seems to have been drawn more from films of the late 1940s and early 1950s than from any serious historical research. There are also numerous technical errors: V1s were not rockets; we have a Major in the FANYs when there was no such rank in that organisation; and Eisenhower's D-Day HQ was in Southwick, not Portsmouth; to mention only a few. Many of the other research 'plums' are more-accurate, but they seem to have been included gratuitously, having been found. Most of the characters are two-dimensional, wooden or over-the-top, caricatures. The reader adopts a 'Nanny reading to children' tone, and she mispronounces numerous words: we have 'Pahhsengers' and a 'Dimeler' car. The members of the 'F-A-N-Y' are referred to in casual conversations in that spaced-out initials form, rather than as 'Fannies', which is how they were inevitably known in non-formal situations. Conversely we have references to 'Arps', who were actually referred to as being 'A-R-P.' personnel at the time. There are supposed English characters using Americanisms, such as 'aloominum' in place of 'aluminium', and 'snagged' in place of 'obtained', and railway 'cars' instead of 'carriages'. It seems unlikely that this story will be enjoyed by anyone with any real knowledge of WWII Britain. This book is awarded one star only because it is not possible to give it no star.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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