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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 (2101 )
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Story
4.2 (1351 )
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Performance
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  •  
    J-Rock Hawaii 09-05-11
    J-Rock Hawaii 09-05-11 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "Disappointing and long-winded"

    This is the worst audiobook I have ever listened to. The narrator did a fine job (I don't understand the reviews that commented that she didn't), but the writing was horrendous. I have listened/read books before that I did not particularly care for the story, however, I could see how people with different interests could enjoy the story. For the life of me, I cannot understand how anyone could enjoy this story.

    The story went on and on into pointless detail about characters running from one place to the next, trying to find their 'drop' or other such thing. Lots of action with very little substance. There was no character development whatsoever. I got the two main female characters mixed up because neither one had any character development or back story. There was far too little detail about the characters or the time period in which they were, which was a disappointment. I kept on listening to the book only so I could find out the end and, as others have said before, there really isn't any end - it just abruptly stops and then there is a book 2. I would have stopped listening long ago if I had known that.

    I got this book because I was intrigued by the story and it could have been a really amazing book if the author would have focused on the story and not so much on drawing out in excruciating detail very boring 'action' scenes. The substance could have been condensed to 1/4 of the current book and it would have made for a much better story.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    shirley 06-03-11
    shirley 06-03-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    33
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    "Heavy on the WWII history, light on the scifi"

    Well written, well narrated, good book! HOWEVER, I am not a history fan and really just got tired of 'reading' a story about war-torn Europe. I made it through about 6 hours and just lost interest. One day, when I'm in the mood for a great novel with a little scifi thrown in on the side, I'll come back to it. Today, however, it is not right for me.

    If you love historical novels and scifi, this is definitely the book for you.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Beverly Naples, NY, United States 06-01-11
    Beverly Naples, NY, United States 06-01-11 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A little long and whingy"

    I'm afraid that I thought the characters whiney and was unsympathetic to their "plight".

    The glimpses of WWII life are interesting and I'd hoped that there would be more of that and less dwelling on the plight of the main characters.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andy Medford, MA, United States 03-17-11
    Andy Medford, MA, United States 03-17-11 Member Since 2010

    Im a good listener

    HELPFUL VOTES
    12
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    91
    11
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    "Repetitive Dialog"

    I just started the third part. While the story is very interesting it's too spread out. I think much of the dialog and themes are repetitive and don't add anything. If the point is to get the reader\listener to understand that a character is frustrated by repeating their frustration so often that it becomes frustrating to read\listen to then perhaps that literary device can be deemed a success. In a similar vein while the book is broken into a few storylines they all essentially have the same issue and the characters deal with them a similar manner. My X has been rescheduled and I am unprepared. Oh no my X isn't working. Why is the X taking so long to find me? On top of that are the constant hints that history might be changed. It's like a cheap horror movie where you are made to think something is around every corner only to find that nothing is there over and over again. I'm not sure I am going to bother with finishing this book.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Richard Weaverville, NC, United States 01-25-11
    Richard Weaverville, NC, United States 01-25-11 Member Since 2009

    Writer, Reader, Former Bookseller (RIP Borders)

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "If it stood alone, I would have given 4"

    An excellent and beautiful account of an amazing time. Willis shows through anecdotal encounters who the real heroes of WWII were-- the everyday folk on the home front. Only problem is that about the time I was thinking "sure would be good to wrap this thing up now..." it ended with a "to be continued..." half way through the plot! It is only half a novel, and was a bit too over written already! An interesting and compelling idea though. I like the "blackout" and "all clear" duo in concept. But the execution was off a little in Black out, and then goes so terribly awry in All Clear (the sequel) that it seems not worth having gotten engaged with the story to begin with. Blackout is good enough on its own to read. The rich history that is infused into it in the magical way that Willis has is alone worth the investment. But, if you are the type that needs resolution, you are better off skipping it all together. The story is weak, the characters weaker, and in the end it just keeps on going and going and going.... in circles.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Reginald Brattleboro, VT, USA 02-11-10
    Reginald Brattleboro, VT, USA 02-11-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
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    "Unfortunate..."

    I loved Domesday Book, and was thrilled to find out this book was a sequel, but I gave up listening after a short period, unable to cope with the reader's overly dramatic style. The characters, when "acted," in this audiobook, became caricatures that were completely unrecognizable as people, let alone, the characters I knew and loved from the first book.

    The book itself may yet prove itself enjoyable, but I would advise folks to stay clear of this audiobook version.

    2 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Morgan United States 07-12-11
    Morgan United States 07-12-11 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Many Funny Moments"

    Connie WIllis' Blackout has some brilliant moments, with signature Willis humor. Willis' characters are likeable and I connected with them and became interested in what happened to them. The basic plot, three time-traveling historians trapped in England during the Blitz, is not a new idea for Willis, but she makes the ideas new (even considering her shorter story written on the same premise). Katherine Kellgren's reading of Willis' book is brilliant and I thoroughly enjoyed her performance. I found some of the plot incessantly plodding and probably would have skimmed through reading some sections, had this not been an audio book. I was disappointed to have the book end without any resolution, forcing anyone who remotely cares for the characters to read the next book. This is a cheap trick and mars my overall impression of Willis' book. Nevertheless, Willis is a solid writer and worth reading.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Harvey Seattle, WA, United States 12-08-10
    Harvey Seattle, WA, United States 12-08-10 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
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    2
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    "great book if you don't have to listen to katherin"

    can't imagine listening to katherine kellgren for 15 hours! gave up after 15 minutes. i'll have to buy the book.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    jayson 02-24-11
    jayson 02-24-11 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
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    31
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    Overall
    "What Tha, Who Tha, When Tha"

    Book had a good plot, but you better be paying attention . It is fast paced and can get confusing.

    0 of 3 people found this review helpful
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