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)
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.
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.
The narrator was the best part, followed by it being an interesting premise. However, it went on and on wtih nothing happening. Plus it was extraordinarily repeptitive.
Get to the point. This story did not need to be 18 hours long...let alone carried over to another book; whcih, I may add, I will not be downloading!
The book was awful. Long, boring, and never comes to any climax. Interminable is the best description I have.
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.
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.
I have listened to other Connie Willis books and LOVED them (Bellweather, To Say Nothing of the Dog) so I thought I would listen to this one too. It is a fantastic book and I can't wait for All Clear to be published so that I can listen to the end of the book. It should be out October 2010. I thought the narrator was really good. The history of the Blitz is fantastic. The characters (particularly Mike) do go on a bit about "changing history" but that is really my only complaint. I think that it will get better reviews after All Clear comes out and one is able to listen to the entire story without waiting for a year.
This book does such a lovely job of exploring the feelings of the ordinary people who suffered through the blitz of England during WWII. Most books of the era are military in nature and are not about the people who had to ride out the blackouts, the bombings, the devastation of their homes and lives, the uncertainty of anything except that the bombs would continue to come. The narration is fabulous and the story kept me wanting more. There's a sequel to come in the fall and I can't wait for it!
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The first time I read this book in 2010 it was an instant favourite. After reading it for the second time in 2014 I find it’s just as solid; I am not as head-over-heels for it as I was the first time, but it’s still a great read!
The research on life in London in World War Two that went into the book is impressive, and I never felt like I was suffering through the “author showing off their knowledge syndrome” that you can find in many books. The scenes and characters were authentic, entertaining, funny, and their stories were riveting, interesting and (despite the fact that this is a Time Travel story) completely believable thanks to the seamless inclusion of all that research!
My only complaint about Connie Willis’ 2060 world is that it’s too mechanical. For example: people needing to get messages to others in a hurry (no texting???), or need to pick up papers and forms before the office closes (can’t print from a Website???). I had the same reaction this time as when I first read it: Was this intentional or was the world conjured up in the 1980s?
SciFi/Fantasy and Classics to History, Adventure and Memoirs to Social Commentary—I love and listen to it all!
Blackout is definitely in the top 10 because Katherine Kellgren gives a sublime performance. We all know that narrators can KILL a good book, but she adds so much to an already great story.
The only thing about Blackout is that you have to read "All Clear" after it. Which is kind of a cheat on the part of Connie Willis. I love her, but I've got to admit that it's a tad irritating that it's the case. I would have no problem reading a long book, the two together. As it is, the situations in this book, what happens to the characters are all threads that need to be picked up again. That said... you will WANT to! I couldn't wait to see the conclusion.
Connie Willis writes characters that are deep, emotional, complex, and well fleshed-out. Katherine Kellgren presents them in a manner that suggests her perfect ease with them and with the material as a whole. She truly inhabits the characters in a manner that would be just short of over the top in somebody else's hands, but with her, it works so very well. They breathe, react, think and feel with the intensity that usually one can only feel by reading the material for themselves and imagining it.
Though there are a few pacing problems, which keeps this from being a five-star book, I listened to this in as few sittings possible. It wasn't quite the life-disrupter that "All Clear" wound up being, but it did get right up there. I must say, also, that both books "age" well and read even better upon a second go. Which is odd. One would think that knowing what's going to happen would mitigate this, but actually, the characters and the horrors spring into even greater life. Whoulda thunk it?
The only thing that mars this book is the knowledge that it's a set up for the following book. Otherwise, the characters and their situations, the horrors of World War II, move everything along. Truly, how people survived, how anyone survives in such environments without succumbing to the constant terror is mystifying and inspiring. And only Connie Willis can capture it with such detail and emotion, making us feel every bit of it through her characters.
"Don't waste your time"
I found it very hard to get past the American grammar (for characters in wartime England). There were some poorly researched parts. I found myself shouting at the player when one of the characters "peeled the lid" off a "carton" of tea. At half the length, it might have made an enjoyable listen, but even the 18 hours available was insufficient for the author to explain any of the concepts of time travel although the major plot line relies on them.
The ending left me completely frustrated. It's as if the author lost interest, which might be understandable.
"Doesn't live up to the promise"
As others have noted, this is a nice idea for a story, but I found the execution to be poor. The characters are one dimensional and seem to act and speak improbably. This becomes more and more annoying over time. The story drags on and doesn't really seem to go anywhere. I was unable to finish the book, so I don't know whether any of the threads were resolved and I don't really care.
Some of the accents and pronunciations are bizarre and grate very quickly. As another reviewer has noted, "parsanger" is one of the worst offenders. This sounds like a minor quibble, but I found it surprisingly aggravating. It's a nice concept and it's a shame the book and its reading do not live up to it.
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