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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.

©2010 Connie Willis (P)2010 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

  • 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 Ratings

Overall

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Story

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  • Overall
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My kind of sci fi!

Time travel -- backward in time -- is my favorite speculative fiction. I had a bit of trouble sorting out the characters early in this book, but once I got beyond that, I wanted to listen non-stop. The challenges the characters experienced in WWII England seemed very realistic.

I really enjoyed Kellgren's narration, but then -- I always do. I swear she could read the phone book and make it sound entertaining. As soon as I finished listening to this book, I went straight into All Clear to continue the story. As the Brits say -- both books were "brilliant!"

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  • Kevin
  • Herndon, VA, United States
  • 11-24-12

Blackout is a great audio performance



This is a great book - but it is really just one of two and you must read both to get the story. The reader does a great job with this book. She is able to bring all the characters to life including the young kids and the many other minor characters. There are many memorable characters, but I loved the two trouble maker kids in the first half of the book. They were great at getting into and out of trouble. I thought the ending of this book would at least show a break, but it does not. So be prepared to read both books. But this is a very fun and interesting story.

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  • Eunique
  • Sagamore Hills, Oh United States
  • 11-23-12

So happy to join the Oxford time travelers again

What did you love best about Blackout?

The location and time setting of WWII London

What did you like best about this story?

The story moved well with just enough conflict and character/location/time differentiation to keep it interesting. All of the intertwining stories made for a very interesting plot.

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

Yes

Any additional comments?

It was a tiny bit difficult to keep track of the dates for all the characters

  • Overall
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A bit frustrating

Is there anything you would change about this book?

I enjoyed the first 2 books, Doomsday Book and To Say Nothing of the Dog. But I found myself becoming increasingly frustrated with the way the story dragged along in Blackout while the characters hunted each other down. I thought I would scream if I heard one more character worry about the "slippage", find one of their fellow historians, and then run away from each other. I am going to move onto All Clear and give the last book a chance.

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

Frustrated.

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

Good character voices.

Do you think Blackout needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

Obviously.

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I was expecting better

Quite some time ago I read the author's earlier book "To Say Nothing of the Dog ...". I thought that it was very clever and well written. Blackout and All Clear are a two book set that follow on from that earlier book. Together they are something over 40 hours. While they follow the same 'time travel' principle, and the story is still creative, I was disappointed overall for several reasons. Much of the drama in the story was brought about by several of the main characters struggling over what seems would have been very 'basic concepts' about time travel. I found it hard to believe that time traveling historians would not have previously contemplated such things long and hard. In addition, much of the complication was based on these same historians consistently lying to each other to protect each other from havings to worry. That also was hard to believe from professionals historians who should have been working together toward a common goal. In summary, this could have been much better if edited carefully into a single book at half the length with much of the excesses left out.

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  • Meredith
  • Charlotte, NC, United States
  • 10-16-12

Blew me away

The concept itself is intriguing enough. Anyone who cares about history would love this, even with the sci-fi twist. The research had to be grueling, kudos to the author for making such details exciting and interesting at every turn.

This is not a stand alone book--it is a two volume novel which should be read as such. Go ahead and buy them both!

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Blackout Whitewashes the Competition

Where does Blackout rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

I really enjoyed Blackout and definitely rank it in the top 5 audiobooks I have listened to so far.
I was pleasantly surprised by this book because I am not the biggest fan of science fiction novels. Although this book uses time travel, it does so in a way which enhances the story line and you see the war from the viewpoint of someone from a generation much like our own.
This book brings the civilians of the 1940's to life and makes you feel like you are walking the burning streets of London with them. It helps you imagine what it must have been like to have to survive on rations, live in bomb shelters and be grateful that they have just found penicillin!

What was one of the most memorable moments of Blackout?

The battle of Dunkirk was one of my highlights. I had no idea how involved the civilian population was in the evacuation.

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

Katherine Kellgren is a wonderful narrator and I think the various British (& American) characters she manages to bring to life with her wonderful accents added a wonderful dimension to the story.

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

This book has made me want to read up on WWII and I must admit that I have been telling everyone I meet about all the interesting details which Connie Willis has managed to dig up (after many many hours of research I'm sure!).

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Riveting listen

What did you love best about Blackout?

Blackout drew me in right from the beginning and made it almost impossible to put down. Well narrated and a good story. A nice blend of fiction and nonfiction. A note to the listener - be sure to download All Clear at the same time....you will not want to wait even a moment to start the second book!

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  • SHARON
  • Taylors, SC, United States
  • 08-07-12

Blackout by Connie Willis

What made the experience of listening to Blackout the most enjoyable?

I very much enjoued this book. I am very fond of time travel stories and their intricacies.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Blackout?

One of the best moments in Blackout was when Polly tries to go home and finds that her portal does not work. Also when the windows of the Department store are blown out and they think they are seeing multiple bodies in the debris but find that they are really the store window mannequins.

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

I loved the performance. The accents were wonderful.

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

Yes, but it is very long and I had to break it up into several days.

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  • Story

Mildly intersting story line, but way too wordy

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

People who are interested in the day to day life of WW2 London.

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

The book needed to be shorter. It was way too wordy. The same idea was expressed day page after page and chapter after chapter with little change. I get it already.

How could the performance have been better?

The performance was OK, but the accent got to be annoying after a while. Especially grating was the bratty kids. I felt like I was actually there and wanted to punch the narater.

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

Frustration. It just dragged on.

Any additional comments?

I realize this was book one of two, and I have not read the second one yet. I generally love reading a series. In this case, I'm not sure I will even get the second book.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful