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Blackout | [Connie Willis]

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 (2379 )
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4.3 (1599 )
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  •  
    ryedpar Knoxville, TN, United States 12-27-10
    ryedpar Knoxville, TN, United States 12-27-10 Member Since 2010

    rp

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Narrator is AMAZING!"

    Katherine Kellgren continually blew my socks off switching between men, women, boys, girls, many American and English accents. I was never confused about who was speaking. Simply amazing talent.

    Plus the story was quite good too :).

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    E. A. Jacques Michigan USA 12-22-10
    E. A. Jacques Michigan USA 12-22-10 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    76
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    69
    46
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    4
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    Overall
    "Mixed Emotions"

    I'm just not sure still if I liked this one or not. To say I was disappointed at the ending is an understatement, but at least I knew that going in. But dang. Slam bam and you better get the next book if you want to learn what happens. There is no reason why this book could not have stood on it's own - at least a little, with a continuing story. But hey, like I said I knew that going in.

    It took me a bit to figure out what was going on here, I think partly because of the narrator. I'm not one for English accents so it took some getting used to for me. But an interesting plot started to develop and I got pulled in. Nothing overly complex and the author tells a good yarn, but, and this is a pretty big but, she does not know when to move on. Way to many mini crescendos that went no where. "He should be there at 9am, but he was not, but maybe at 4pm, nope not then either, well maybe tomorrow"....guess again. Gee I wonder why, let me analyze it, and analyze it again, and again and maybe one more time for good measure. A few times I almost screamed out my window. The title of the book might be better called "Beat a Dead Horse".

    So why did I give it 3 stars then? Well that's the odd thing. There was a good story here and at times it moved along well and I enjoyed listening.

    Enough to listen to the next book? Well that's the big question. I do want to hear what happens, but I just don't know if I can invent the time. The reviews lead me to believe I will again be frustrated. So for now I am taking a break to shake the cobwebs out of my head, but I think I will one day come back because as much as I hate to admit it. I liked the story and want to know how it ends.

    So this review might not help you all that much, but it's pretty dang accurate - I think.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Philip Skye, Australia 12-14-10
    Philip Skye, Australia 12-14-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
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    "Confused Bushman"

    I am sure that a lot of people will enjoy this book. I found parts interesting and the reader very good. The story jumps about and gets bogged down in confusing detail. Listening to the book became an endurance event. I was relieved when it was over. It was a pity as the concept is great and the historical content very good.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John Santa Cruz, CA, United States 12-07-10
    John Santa Cruz, CA, United States 12-07-10 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
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    "A waste...of time"

    It's got to be hard to write a dull novel about time travellers lost in the London blitz, but Willis has succeeded. There were so many ways this setup could have been made interesting, but I didn't hear any. I'm sure the narrator was trying her best, but she wasn't given much to work with. The characters were left undeveloped and the plot was nigh indetectible. Even though the first book stops in mid-stride, I'll pass on the sequel.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Need More Stuff 11-23-10 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
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    10
    2
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    "So much potential, So little substance"

    The premise of this book center around historians who have travelled back in time and are unable to return. What a great concept! To report on history with the perspective of someone who sees how it will affect the far future. Unfortunately the entire first book revolves around the characters trying to get back home. Not much character development or storyline. I was VERY disappointed and will not purchase the next book to see what happens. I already know what happens....NOTHING!

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan Houston, TX, United States 11-23-10
    Susan Houston, TX, United States 11-23-10 Member Since 2001
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Foul"

    This is a good book. I'm fascinated by London during the Blitz so read everything--fiction or nonfiction--I can find about it. I also read Doomsday Book years ago (and bought a paperback recently to reread it) and was fascinated by the vision of historical research done by actually visiting the past. BUT this book leaves the reader totally up in the air. Clearly the situation is resolved in the follow-up book, All Clear, but novels need to have some internal integrity which this one does not, ending as it does--or not ending as it does. As it is, it reeks of the marketplace--how to ensure that the reader buys the second book. Even serial novels written for kids have more internal integrity in each novel. That said, I just put All Clear in my cart....

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Luis Miami, Fl, United States 11-13-10
    Luis Miami, Fl, United States 11-13-10 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    115
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    "Good book Great Narator"

    I like Connie Wilis books and this is no exception Luckily I read the reveiws that said it ends abruptly. So I consider this the first half of the whole book.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nan Memphis, TN, United States 11-08-10
    Nan Memphis, TN, United States 11-08-10 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    27
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    "This book is incomplete"

    There is no ending in this book You are simply left hanging. two thirds of the book is about the characters being stranded with no answer. You have to purchase another books to find out what happens. I will get the All Clear not that I have heard Black out in unabridged format but I refuse to be force to purchase another book to end a cliff hanger.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jon Oak , IL, USA 05-03-10
    Jon Oak , IL, USA 05-03-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
    9
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    15
    2
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    "I wish I knew this was only half the story"

    The book doesn't really resolve anything at the end. If I would have realized it was half a book I would have waited until the second half is released. It was a bit drawn out and probably does not really need to be broken up into two parts.

    It really needs to be made more clear that this is not a complete book.

    3 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Peter Collegeville, PA, United States 02-14-10
    Peter Collegeville, PA, United States 02-14-10 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    32
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    76
    28
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    3
    10
    Overall
    "Comes to an abrupt end."

    This is an interesting story that feels incomplete. If an author decides to place her characters in difficult and mysterious peril, she should be compelled to extract them by the end of the story and explain how such a feat was achieved. There is no "Act Three" to "Blackout".

    The narration by Katherine Kellgren is excellent. She skillfully evokes male and female character, both young and old.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful

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