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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 (2377 )
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4.3 (1597 )
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Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Monica 06-03-12
    Monica 06-03-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Double review - Blackout and All Clear"

    It was Sunday morning, and I was standing over my cup of coffee in the kitchen, tears streaming down my cheeks, hoping none of my family would walk in just then. But this is time travel. What came first was 42 hours of audiobook, sometimes tedious, sometimes gripping. Even though the author could have edited out some of the characters' more repetitive thought-loops, I still give this book a wall of stars. If I could give the narrator 10 out of 5 stars I would - her performance was phenomenal.

    I read other reviews on Audible before I bought these books. A number of people complained that Blackout didn't stand on its own as a book because of the abrupt ending. They felt that the author had just taken one book and chopped it in two. It is true that the two books must be read as a whole, but honestly, if the two books had been published as one it would have been too heavy to read comfortably! In audio format, I have absolutely no problem using two credits for this 42 1/2 hour read.

    I loved these books, would read them again, and highly recommend them. As an added bonus, for anyone wasn't there, this book will give you a real appreciation for how difficult life was during WW2 and how easy we have it today.

    22 of 23 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paul Waurn Ponds, Australia 10-29-10
    Paul Waurn Ponds, Australia 10-29-10 Member Since 2014
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    "A Masterwork - across two parts."

    I have just finished listening to 'All Clear'.... and am still buzzing hours later... I loved every moment of it.

    Blackout as other reviewers have said is 'part one' and doesn't come to any resolution. Think of when 'The Fellowship of the Ring' ends and you know you have two more books of the Lord of the Rings to go. The first book doesn't resolve anything, just sets up lots of characters and plots....which is what Connie Willis does here. The first few reviewers who's disappointment I have read here must have had no idea a second book was weeks/days away from being available. I couldn't wait for 'All Clear' to be available. 'Blackout' would be disappointing without 'All Clear', so plan on getting both, you won't be disappointed.

    The narration is just fantastic, The characters are just as detailed and believable as her previous books. The writing is Connie Willis at her best. Blackout is embedded with subplots that the reader is allowed to enjoy alone, but offer no idea what the heck they are about until the last half of 'All Clear'. For this this just makes it all the more enjoyable.

    Get 'Blackout' AND 'All Clear' and encourage Connie Willis to write more books....

    18 of 19 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kevin 09-11-12
    Kevin 09-11-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    15
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    "Quirky and Fun"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Connie Willis is one of the most literate scifi writers, and she doesn't disappoint. There actually isn't a lot of "sci" in this, other than the time travel that allows the present to mingle with the past.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The portrayal of the Blitz and life in London.


    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stephen Houston, Texas, United States 03-28-14
    Stephen Houston, Texas, United States 03-28-14 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Time travelers need to be made of sterner stuff"
    Any additional comments?


    I enjoyed a previous book from the Oxford Time Traveler series. I like the premise of this book. I did not like the characters, two in particular. Their whining grew tedious. I slugged through the self-induced panic to the end to find out what happens. HOWEVER, I did not realize this was the first of a two parter! I was disappointed.
    At this time, I don’t feel like going through it all again. I’ll skip the next book.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joel 02-15-14
    Joel 02-15-14
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
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    "Good story, poor execution"
    What did you like best about Blackout? What did you like least?

    Its a splendid idea for a story. However, the execution is repetitious and long-winded.


    What could Connie Willis have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    Shorten it by a hundred pages or so.


    What does Katherine Kellgren and Connie Willis bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Kellgren does a wonderful job. Ms. Willis could have quickened the pace by omitting the unnecessary dialogue and description. For example, the characters fret and speculate over their fate, or the reason for their situation far too much. It becomes repetitious and boring.


    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    carla Monkton, VT, United States 03-17-13
    carla Monkton, VT, United States 03-17-13 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    6
    ratings
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    "Sloooooowwwwww story"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    The concept of the entire series is very good, and the historic element is excellent. However, there is way, way too much repetition of individual character's thoughts and worries.


    What was most disappointing about Connie Willis’s story?

    Also, the details of travelling via trains and underground, schedules and stopped trips are excessive.


    What about Katherine Kellgren and Connie Willis ’s performance did you like?

    Reading and changing voices for different people is very good


    Could you see Blackout being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

    no


    Any additional comments?

    I am listening to these as audio books so I can not skip these tedious parts. Had I been reading, I would have skipped through at least half the text.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marilyn 04-20-12
    Marilyn 04-20-12

    I read all the time, or nearly. I always have, I guess, since I was very young ... and now, getting older, more audio than any other medium.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Living The History ... Wonderful!"
    Where does Blackout rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    It's up there in the top ten ... and I read virtually all the time. I've recommended this and the second part, "All Clea"r to many people and no one has been disappointed.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Blackout?

    There's no "moment" ... It is a continuity, an experience very much like really being dropped into another time and place and living in that time.


    What does Katherine Kellgren and Connie Willis bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    I read very fast, so audio books slow me down to the pace of human speech. The narrator is very good and brings the characters alive. It's like a very absorbing movie, but I am the casting director, the cinematographer, the costume designer ... and sometimes, one of the main players.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    I would have if it were possible! I could barely bring myself to stop listening and get something to eat or remember that I had to sleep.


    Any additional comments?

    Wonderfully complete characters, richly drawn. Beautiful writing, superb research. And this was a period in which I had never had any particular interest before reading this book and its sequel (they are really one book divided into two pieces).

    10 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marc 04-13-13
    Marc 04-13-13

    iwannawaterski

    HELPFUL VOTES
    32
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    "Taking the slow train to no where...."
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    This book is the first of two volumes (Blackout and All Clear). I made the mistake of downloading both before listening to the first. I soldiered through both and was deeply disapointed. Here is my review for All Clear, everything I said there applies here:This book seems like it was written for an adolescent or teenage audience - but regretfully does not deliver the goods - even for that audience.It is repetitive, boring and slow. The protagonists bumble around in the dark repeating errors and themes in a seemingly endless cycle. The characters never develop, showing neither common sense nor worldliness even though they are supposedly experienced time - travelling historians.There were no reasons (other than chasing dollars) to make this a two volume novel (Blackout and All Clear). In fact the obvious attempt to stretch this tale out into two books is what makes it so bad.the ingredients are there for a good story. It could have been a wonderful novel delivered in about 250 pages. Too bad.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Connie Willis again?

    No


    17 of 20 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Darian Oak Park, CA, United States 06-18-12
    Darian Oak Park, CA, United States 06-18-12 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
    16
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    "Don't waste your time..."
    What did you like best about Blackout? What did you like least?

    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.


    What could Connie Willis have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    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!


    Was Blackout worth the listening time?

    Absolutely not.


    Any additional comments?

    The book was awful. Long, boring, and never comes to any climax. Interminable is the best description I have.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Yvette 03-09-10
    Yvette 03-09-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
    290
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    "Wonderful - totally enjoyed it!"

    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.

    16 of 20 people found this review helpful
Sort by:
  • Marc Marot
    Oxford UK
    11/10/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "This really is terrible"
    What disappointed you about Blackout?

    Seems to have been written by someone who's simply not aware of technology... Has the tone of a book written by a spinster history teacher... Patronising and just awful


    Has Blackout put you off other books in this genre?

    No


    How could the performance have been better?

    Terrible narration... Shouts and am-dram


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Utter disappointment... Couldn't finish it.


    Any additional comments?

    This is the first audible book out of nearly 80 purchases that I've had to delete to stop me smashing my iPad.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • MISS
    7/14/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Not as riveting as previous books (Doomsday Book)"

    Disappointing compared to the previous books-very slow pace. Also the narrator had an unusual way of pronouncing words 'passage' 'almost' which was a little off putting. However, I shall be downloading the follow up book to find out what happens to the characters.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Kevin McSweeney
    6/3/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Atmospheric"

    Another excellent story. Even the the very minor mistakes were enchanting. I will buy the next installment immediately and let my Mother who lived through the Blitz in Stepney as a young girl listen to Blackout. The Blitz Spirit did exist but there was also an increase in crime and petty jobsworths and this is shown wonderfully in the book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Valerie
    Highworth, Swindon, Wilts.
    5/27/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Bomb alley"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes, I would recommend it as a good story, however the narration was poor, so I would recommend that they read it rather than listen.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Not really relevant as there are numerous characters.


    What three words best describe Connie Willis and Katherine Kellgren ’s performance?

    Katherine Kellgren's performance was ok however there were some strange pronunciations, e.g parssage for passage; parsenger for passenger. It was very odd.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    The story didn't have the depth of characterisation that would require slow considered reading.


    Any additional comments?

    It's full of anachronisms. Towards the end I was enjoying spotting them. Examples were, currency was not pennies but pence; temperatures were given in centigrade rather than Fahrenheit; people playing an American game Parcheesi etc. there were loads. Also the two books are really part one and part two of the same book so it's a bit of a rip off!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Brace, Brace, Brace
    London
    5/22/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "More History than Time Travel"
    Where does Blackout rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Oh amazing if you have interesting in WW2 London History


    Which scene did you most enjoy?

    Commander and Saltram-on-sea


    Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    The scale of human loss during the blitz


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Karen
    Sheffield, United Kingdom
    3/1/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "second world war."

    I love time travel books. having listened to to say nothing of the dog etc, and doomsday book I was looking forward to blackout.
    I did think the author spent too much time in oxford 2060, which didn't add much to the story, once past that point I thought it was a good book as she concentrated on the people sent back to 1940/44.
    the main characters, Eileen (morpe), polly and mike were well written as they carried out their assignments, maid dealing with evacuees, assistant in a store and reporter covering Dunkirk.
    there were mistakes in the pronunciation of words and one chapter heading but it is fiction after all.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • W. Mettler
    London, UK
    12/24/12
    Overall
    "Slight disappointment"

    The quality of narration is very good. Unfortunatelly the content does not live up to the quality of the form. I have listened to a third of the book and now feel that I am probably done with it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Kevin
    Bristol, United Kingdom
    10/4/12
    Overall
    "Takes a long time to go nowhere"

    A worthy intent does not necessarily a good work make & here's a perfect example. Takes an interesting premise & then drags it out with repeated situations, dialogue & later an obsessive focus on the attempts to get home via the retrieval team ( if a two words could be worn out in a book this one does it!). I do want to know what happens in the end but I really don't think I can take another 23 hours for part 2. I'm off to look for a summary of All Clear & find something worth my time.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • elizabeth
    Ferndown, United Kingdom
    6/5/11
    Overall
    "Lovely story, shame about the pronunciation errors"

    I really enjoyed the whole story, but suggest that you obtain 'All Clear' by the author at the same time. As others have written, occasionally the pronunciation leaves a lot to be desired but this can be traded off against the hours of listening pleasure given by the plot of the story. I found the travelling back and forth between WWII and Oxford 2060 surprisingly easy to follow, but occasionally jumps in the story made me wish I had a paper copy of the book to remind myself of links.
    If you are a serious historian you will find some portrayals irritating. But for the rest of us, well worth the download.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Philip
    Fareham, United Kingdom
    12/7/10
    Overall
    "Slow Fade to Black"

    The idea of this book has great potential, but the author fails to achieve it. The plot is developed at an incredibly slow pace, with lots of repetition and with much confusion over the dates involved, which is totally unacceptable in a multi-group time-jaunting story. It is claimed to be highly accurate in its research, but this is not deserved, as there is a crudely misunderstood depiction of most of the British characters, which seems to have been drawn more from films of the late 1940s and early 1950s than from any serious historical research. There are also numerous technical errors: V1s were not rockets; we have a Major in the FANYs when there was no such rank in that organisation; and Eisenhower's D-Day HQ was in Southwick, not Portsmouth; to mention only a few. Many of the other research 'plums' are more-accurate, but they seem to have been included gratuitously, having been found. Most of the characters are two-dimensional, wooden or over-the-top, caricatures. The reader adopts a 'Nanny reading to children' tone, and she mispronounces numerous words: we have 'Pahhsengers' and a 'Dimeler' car. The members of the 'F-A-N-Y' are referred to in casual conversations in that spaced-out initials form, rather than as 'Fannies', which is how they were inevitably known in non-formal situations. Conversely we have references to 'Arps', who were actually referred to as being 'A-R-P.' personnel at the time. There are supposed English characters using Americanisms, such as 'aloominum' in place of 'aluminium', and 'snagged' in place of 'obtained', and railway 'cars' instead of 'carriages'. It seems unlikely that this story will be enjoyed by anyone with any real knowledge of WWII Britain. This book is awarded one star only because it is not possible to give it no star.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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