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)
I didn't do much for the first twenty years of my life, spent the next twenty in the military, and the twenty after that in college. Then, I mostly retired.
Some audio books require a period of time to catch the difference in the voices of the character. With these narrators, all the voices are similar, and I could not follow the story line even after an hour or more. Some books make for a really good read, some for a good listen, and some for both. Maybe this one would be a good read.
Well... I had downloaded this book some time ago, in spite of the bad reviews, and because of those reviews didn't listen to it for months. Now that I have listened to it, I feel silly for waiting. Perhaps the people who didn't like it hadn't listened to her other books? I thought it was great. I was totally into the characters and couldn't stop listening. Granted, I knew going in that it was a first part of two books and since I just finished it, the second part is already available and I am starting to listen to All Clear right away. I think Connie Willis is a great writer and I want to go back and listen to her other books again. If you liked Doomsday and To Say Nothing About the Dog, you will like this book too. Don't put too much stock into the bad reviews.
Throughly enjoyed the listen. The story captures and holds your attention and the narrator was great. Am jumping straight into All Clear.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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....
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.
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.
"First of a great pair of books"
I have read other reviews of this book and have to agree that one or two words are pronounced wrongly, and they do jump out at you when listening. Two examples that spring to mind are 'Daimler' cars which are wrongly pronounced as 'Dimeler', and worst of all 'passage' which for some reason is pronounced as 'parsage'! Apart from those minor problems, the narrator is excellent throughout, helping to make the story both fascinating and involving for the listener.
The author has researched well, and it is easy to feel involved in the London Blitz. I recently saw some archive photographs of Londoners living through the Blitz and they reminded me of this book - surely a good sign.
I have not finished the follow-up book yet, but I'm getting near the end and will be disappointed when it is finished. You must listen to this book first, and then you will have to listen to 'All Clear' to find out what has happened to all the characters as nothing is resolved by the end of this book.
I recently listened to 'Dune', which was supposed to be a classic of science fiction. I found it to be very hard going, despite the high quality of the audio production. 'Blackout' has come as a refreshing relief with its easy to follow, interesting story. I am rather biased though, as I am a big fan of time travel fiction.
I thoroughly recommend this audio book, even if you are not a science fiction fan.
"Love this author"
I found this very evocative, as a child I walked past the City bomb sites to school. My mother had a fear of shelters and refused to go to one when she was waiting for my dad in trafalger square once. Dad said he was terrified but mum was cool as a cucumber.
Unlike some others I love this book and the sequel. I confess that I waited for the sequel before reading it.
I got to really like the characters and I wanted to know what happened to them. And I wished I had read some Agatha Christie's because I might of figured out what happened before the end.
There is a caveat though. If like me you know London well not to mention the geography of England and Wales you might find yourself noticing mistakes. And some Americanism's slip in despite a valiant attemp to keep them out.
All in all a very interesting take on the time travel idea and a very worthwhile read.
"Promising but sometimes verbose descriptives"
A great idea, time travel to WW 2. The narrator managed period accents rather well, except for strange pronunciation of "passage" and "Daimler". The vocal characterisation of the children from the East End of London was excellent. I am tempted to say that some of the storyline threads seemed to fizzle out, however if there is to be a sequel no doubt this would be rectified. The descriptions and feelings of the characters enduring bombing raids was persuasive and dramatic. The ending was obscure and the reader is left to ponder a multitude of possible temporal outcomes
"wow total rubbish"
a wonderful premise for a book so what happened, i will tell you absolutely nothing utterly boring and uneventful until the last five mins when you discover you have to buy the second book to find out if you must read these books i would skip the first one completely
"Irritatingly bad book!"
Badly researched, badly written, badly narrated. This book is full of anachronisms and americanisms. Clumsy and pedestrian, cliche ridden...almost a parody of the era...made even worse by the inept narration. All in all...embarrassingly bad.
If you like WWII stories, this is a wonderful book - it does a fantastic job of really invoking what it was like to be living in london during the air raids. Even small details are wonderfully brought to life, and the characters are fantastic. You get totally sucked into it! I'd read other Connie Willis stories and I liked her writing style, but if this is your first book by her, the style might take a little bit of adjustment.
but be warned that it ends on a cliffhanger! You'll want to read All Clear next, it's the second half.
This is a good story despite some Americanisms, such a 2 cent stamp on a letter, but completely let down by the narration; some of her accents were good but some very odd pronounciations - check out 'passage' and 'daimler'. On balance I think I would have preferred to read this rather than listen to it.
This is my second Connie Willis audiobook-it was brilliantly read with an authentic voice depicting the era that the book is set in. A long, well-paced satisfying listen that is very evocative of Britain in the 1940's, especially the parts set in London during the Blitz. There are several different narratives running alongside each other, anyone familiar with Connie Willis' time travel books will know many of the characters and find it easy to follow. I loved it! Am now starting on the follow up 'All clear'.
"Under researched, poorly narrated, incomplete"
Basically an interesting story BUT: As other reviewers have said, the pronunciation of some words like passage - parseage, daimler - dimeler, A.R.P - arp, is very irritating. Some basic errors of idiom and history. You cannot make a phone call from a pillar box! The Victoria line wasn't built until after the war. To crown it all, the story isn't complete and I'll have to buy the second book to find out what happens. I wish I hadn't bothered but I want to know how it all ends.
"One to miss"
This book, documenting british experience during the second world war, could only have been written by an American. Pejorative, condescending, romanticised and quaint. The sections set in 2060 are almost unlistenable as descriptions of modern people. The narration captures the dire nature of the book completely and compliments it with it's own air of patronising tweeness.
Not for fans of history, literature or dignity.
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