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Blackout Audiobook

Blackout

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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

3.9 (2915 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Dennis SCHAUMBURG, ILLINOIS, United States 03-15-12
    Dennis SCHAUMBURG, ILLINOIS, United States 03-15-12 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Disappointing"

    I read the first 2 books in the Oxford Time Travel series and LOVED them. This book was a real disappointment compared to the others. In this book, unlike the others, there was no character that I could really loved or even liked all that much. Connie was so great in her characters in the other books! The storyline was okay, not great. If this were the first book I had read by her, I would never had tried another. I know this author can and has been great, but not this time.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christine HILLSBOROUGH, NC, United States 01-28-12
    Christine HILLSBOROUGH, NC, United States 01-28-12 Member Since 2010
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    37
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    Story
    "Very satisfying!"

    I've listened twice and thoroughly enjoyed this book. When my bright, middle-school son was desperate for a good to 'listen book' and I recommended Ms. Willis books. He's sold! I love this story with its distinctive 'voices' and clever plot. The characters have become quite real to me. Frankly, Connie Willis is one of those authors whose next book I eagerly await!! Great listen especially for history-scifi junkies! (Yes, they exist.)

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dianne Fishman London, England 01-01-12
    Dianne Fishman London, England 01-01-12 Member Since 2003

    Especially enjoy American crime thrillerwriters such as James Lee Burke and British sci-fi/fantasy, such as Ben Aaronovitch.

    ratings
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    "A view of London in the Blitz from a new angle."

    Having thoroughly enjoyed To Say Nothing of the Dog, I couldn't wait to go time-travelling again with Connie Willis. This book and its second part, All Clear, is possibly one of the best books I have ever listened to, let alone sci-fi books. It is heartstopping and heartwrenching. The description of the Blitz is amazing. I nearly didn't get it because of critical reviews of the reader, but once you get used to her she is great and some of her British accents are actually very good. I had no trouble whatsoever identifying who was speaking.

    I really can't recommend these books highly enough.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Deborah Oak Park, IL, United States 12-21-11
    Deborah Oak Park, IL, United States 12-21-11 Member Since 2011
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    "Great idea but TOO much"

    I listed to Blackout and All Clear. It is all one long story so be aware before starting Blackout. This was a very long listen ~42 hours and it just didn't need to be. A good editor could have helped immensely.

    I LOVED the view of the real people of WWII. It was interesting to get a glimpse at what the individuals were doing and how England coped with years of war. Unfortunately, there was very little story involving these people.

    The historians and their quest to return to their time was the real plot. This was extremely tedious. The characters weren't all the well developed and evidently never thought about anything except how to get their drops to open and whether or not they were changing the course of history - over and over again. Surely they weren't so one dimensional?

    Regardless, when I finally did get to the end, I thought it was great how all their stories tied together. The ending was perfect. It just took too long to get there.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nick Fryer Willunga, Australia 11-18-11
    Nick Fryer Willunga, Australia 11-18-11 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
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    "Gripping at times but overly long"

    Connie Willis's time travel epic chronicles the experiences of three twenty-first century historians in early 1940s England. The protagonists have travelled back more than a century to explore wartime England and find themselves both unable to return and increasingly anxious that their actions are, contrary to theory, altering the course of history.

    Set chiefly in London during the Blitz, the novel contains some utterly gripping passages describing conditions as the city is bombed, night after terrible night. The native Londoners ("contemps" to our heroes) are portrayed vividly and the true horror of the events is effectively and movingly described.

    If the protagonists occasionally come across as naive and vacillating - well, they are university students, and their youth may also explain their apparent ability to function for days at a time without sleep. These are quibbles - the more substantive complaint is that the novel (itself only the first half of the story) is too long, obsessively following every minute of every day of the characters' experiences (or seeming to, at times). This, of course, is a widespread fault in this age of 1,000 page shelf-breakers.

    My only other complaint is with Katherine Kellgren's narration, which is, at least at times, too breathlessly emotional for this listener's taste. However, none of those faults stopped me listening to the end and neither will they stop me downloading All Clear when a credit is available.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    P. Whatley Birmingham, AL 11-10-11
    P. Whatley Birmingham, AL 11-10-11 Member Since 2012
    ratings
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    Story
    "Interesting Story, Should have been edited"

    I like science fiction and time travel. I bought this book hoping for some of both. Turns out it really a historical fiction novel with a smattering of science fiction. Thats OK though - I enjoyed the historical aspect of it. What I didn't like was the fact that the book should have been about 1/2 as long. So much of the dialog was repetitive it became annoying. A good editor would have made the book much better.

    What i also don't like is that there is no conclusion or wrapping up of the story. The book does not stand on its own. If you want the conclusion of the story, you must listen/read ALL CLEAR.

    The performance was very good.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Adam Oak Ridge, NJ, United States 11-04-11
    Adam Oak Ridge, NJ, United States 11-04-11 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Should have been a single a book"

    This was another good and interesting read from Connie Willis, continuing in the tradition of Domesday Book and To Say Nothing of the Dog. A very interesting take on historical fictions, exposing the reader to the suspense, drama and fear of the Blitz in WWII London. I enjoyed the reader and the various character voices she brought to life.

    The only beef on the book, however, is the same one that many other reviewers have expressed. This is not a two-part book. This is one book split into two and the buyer should be prepared to be buy both parts or face the reality of listening to a good cliffhanger without much sense of closure.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Steven ALBUQUERQUE, NM, United States 10-29-11
    Steven ALBUQUERQUE, NM, United States 10-29-11 Member Since 2014

    Lover of sci-fi, fantasy, horror, mystery, and westerns in all media, including old-time radio dramatizations.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Disappointed"

    I simply couldn't stay with it. I kept waiting for it to get started.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    L. Salter Twisp, WA, United States 09-20-11
    L. Salter Twisp, WA, United States 09-20-11 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "18 hours and nothing happens"

    This book could have used a good editor. The 18 hour story could have been told in 6 with no loss of character development. And the worst part is that at the end of 18 hours nothing has been resolved, all the characters are in the exact positions they were on page 20 stuck in the past with no way home. A bore from start to finish and no resolution till the end of the second book almost 40 hours later.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    McGee Fairview, OK, United States 09-13-11
    McGee Fairview, OK, United States 09-13-11 Member Since 2012

    I am addicted to Audible!! I have my earphones in listening to my books all day. Others comments sometimes influence my purchases.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Put Me to Sleep"

    I always finish a book. ALWAYS! But this is the one to receive the honor of being deleted without completion. The premise is interesting, but it missed the mark.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
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  • Pitcairn Postcard Magazine
    West Sussex, UK
    2/25/11
    Overall
    "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.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • J.H.
    Lost
    11/8/10
    Overall
    "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.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Charles
    SouthamptonUnited Kingdom
    2/23/10
    Overall
    "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

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • matthew
    whitby, United Kingdom
    6/24/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Bookaholic
    Cornwall,UK
    3/3/13
    Overall
    "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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Wendy
    London, United Kingdom
    8/29/11
    Overall
    "Loved it!"

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Kindle Customer
    Uckfield England
    6/14/11
    Overall
    "Poor narration"

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • jaki cole-kelly
    3/31/11
    Overall
    "Excellent listening"

    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'.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • prmw
    3/23/11
    Overall
    "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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Thomas Woollaston-Kovar
    1/28/11
    Overall
    "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.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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