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.
©2010 Connie Willis (P)2010 Audible, Inc.
“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)
Its a splendid idea for a story. However, the execution is repetitious and long-winded.
Shorten it by a hundred pages or so.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Also, the details of travelling via trains and underground, schedules and stopped trips are excessive.
Reading and changing voices for different people is very good
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.
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.
I have to save my sensitive eyes for thesis-writing, so audiobooks are how I keep up with my favourite authors and have fun.
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.
dog sports enthusiast
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).
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.
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).
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.
"This really is terrible"
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
Terrible narration... Shouts and am-dram
Utter disappointment... Couldn't finish it.
This is the first audible book out of nearly 80 purchases that I've had to delete to stop me smashing my iPad.
As a Time Travel author myself, I absolutely love the way this has been written.It's a richer, more realistic story and you really feel as though you are there. The story weaves itself cleverly through the chapters until you eventually find it hard to put down. I find myself walking around feeling like I have actually experienced it myself. It's a remarkable feat.
I liked all the characters, I suppose Polly more so as she is one of the main ones. There are a variety of diverse, local 'contemps' which add a real flavour to the storylines. Binny and Alf are very believable and roguish while Sir Godfrey is a lovable old actor who relishes Polly's Literary knowledge. Colin Templar is a star, of course.
The narrator did a fabulous job with the accents and really got the nationalities and ages very accurately! Great job!
The end...(I won't say why because it will ruin the ending for those who've not read it!).
A future in Oxford where students study the past in real time. A future where suddenly, the portals back home have closed during WWII…
I want more!!! Plus I want the movies!!
"Why ever did I buy this?"
This is by far the worst audiobook I have purchased and sadly I bought the sequel at the same time. The idea is good, time travellers going back to the blitz who may be compromising history. But after that it is not worth listening to. The narrator appears to be shouting at you, no matter how low you set the volume and the accents are awful. The characters are stereotyped and quite frankly I don't care if they get back so I won't be reading the sequel All Clear. The author introduces the book and she is clearly very excited by it, which I was not. Don't buy!
"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.
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.
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.
Not really relevant as there are numerous characters.
Katherine Kellgren's performance was ok however there were some strange pronunciations, e.g parssage for passage; parsenger for passenger. It was very odd.
The story didn't have the depth of characterisation that would require slow considered reading.
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!
"More History than Time Travel"
Oh amazing if you have interesting in WW2 London History
Commander and Saltram-on-sea
The scale of human loss during the blitz
"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.
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.
"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.
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