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)
Let me say from the beginning that I already knew that this was the first of a two-part story, and that I am a HUGE Connie Willis fan. I love her stuff, and this book was no exception. According to an interview that she did, she wanted to do a book that, among other things, portrayed the ordinary British people during WWII, and that is what she has done, and done well. Also, Katherine Kellgren is a great reader! Her characterizations were interesting, and distinct from each other. I am looking forward to October, and the second half of the story.
Great stuff, until I got to the end; it just sort of stops and leaves you wondering what happens next… After a quick bit of research I found out that it is part of a two book series. Had I known, I might have waited until the second book comes out so I could have listened to them one after the other. I enjoyed it and can’t wait for “All Clear” which is due late 2010.
My family is first. Secondly, I play golf with my friends and hike with a book.
Time travel is among my favorite genre. I love the idea, the design and the execution - usually. This book had no conflict. Characters were dropped 100 years into the past with no cultural challenges, no funny "fashion" mistakes, no one questioning their slightly "off" social behavior. Come on! If I were dropped into 10 years ago, people would notice. The characters just blended in with the "contemps." Unbelievable in a bad way.
The writing was so simple - 5th grade level - and I am a grown-up woman, so I turned it off. I don't read to learn about people doing household chores and waited to get back to the "drop" (home). I quit in the middle.
Connie Willis delivers another fabulous book. Part of her charm is that her books are written in a sort of Victorian style. She is the most decorated Sci/fi fantasy writer of all time. Other quality Fantasy writers like Neil Gaiman have similar styles. If you are looking for a space cowboy traditonal sci-fi novel then you will be disappointed. If you hate her style that is too bad for you. However, the Nebula and Hugo award panel disagree. This one may not win best novel of the year but it is worth listening to or actually reading.
It is engrossing. Only bad thing about it is that I have to wait until Fall fot the next half.
Being told up front this was just the first book in a two book series. The characters in the book just seem to whine about their problems. It seems that is what the whole book about. There is an interesting concept with time travel, but these characters just don't seem to get it at all. Throught the story they just wander around, whining about their problems, and wishing for someone to come help them. Not a good story, and through in some really bad characters and you don't have a good book.
OK, so I didn't read the publishers summary and didn't realize that it was the first part of a two part novel. I had to replay the last chapter to make sure I hadn't skipped some major part of the story. Having said that, I had read that the book wasn't really about time travel so much as the characters of war ravaged England and how their daily lives were so dramatically affected by the war. Some of the situations and characters were repetitious, but I still look forward to hearing the second part.
I don't like having to wait so long for the release of the second part. I hope I remember the plot and characters eight months later.
Time travel is always such a great premise for a novel that its hard to imagine you could ruin it, but Connie Willis does. Sadly this book is more of an attempt to prove that the author is a historian than a fiction writer. Too many hours of my life that I will never get back listening to people dither about wearing white blouses and dark skirts. never again for Connie Willis.
I love Connie Willis, so I knew that I was going to read her book. I should have read the other reviews first, so I would be prepared for the fact that the book ends abruptly. Apparently part 2 comes out in November, and I would have liked to read it all the way through. I agree that the book is less about time travel than about how Brits made it through WWII, but I was fascinated with the storyline. The stories of various characters interweave with each other, so be prepared for abrupt shifts. I actually found this juxtaposition interesting. I would have given it 5 stars, but for the abrupt "non ending".
I'm well into the listen and am entranced. I know it's a two-parter and that it contains many of the themes and characters of Willis' previous novels--and that's fine for me. The breadth of characters and points of view are complex, but manageable in the listen with the different accents of the narrator. Looking forward to savoring the remainder. It keeps me going at the gym. . .
I've been waiting for this book for years, and it doesn't disappoint. The story and style are familiar, like an old friend coming to visit after a long time apart. a warning for people who don't know this though-it ends in the middle of the story-the last half will be published in the fall. But then we have that to look forward to.
"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.
Report Inappropriate Content