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Doomsday Book Audiobook

Doomsday Book

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Publisher's Summary

One of the most respected and awarded of all contemporary science-fiction writers, Connie Willis repeatedly amazes her many admiring fans with her ability to create vivid characters in unusual situations. With Doomsday Book, she takes listeners on a thrilling trip through time to discover the things that make us most human.

For Oxford student Kivrin, traveling back to the 14th century is more than the culmination of her studies - it's the chance for a wonderful adventure. For Dunworthy, her mentor, it is cause for intense worry about the thousands of things that could go wrong. When an accident leaves Kivrin trapped in one of the deadliest eras in human history, the two find themselves in equally gripping - and oddly connected - struggles to survive.

Deftly juggling stories from the 14th and 21st centuries, Willis provides thrilling action - as well as an insightful examination of the things that connect human beings to each other.

©1992 Connie Willis; (P)2000 Recorded Books

What the Critics Say

  • Hugo Award, Best Novel, 1993
  • Nebula Award, Best Novel, 1992

"Ms. Willis displays impressive control of her material; virtually every detail introduced in the early chapters is made to pay off as the separate threads of the story are brought together." (The New York Times Book Review)
"A stunning novel that encompasses both suffering and hope....The best work yet from one of science fiction's best writers." (The Denver Post)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (4042 )
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  •  
    Anon 07-16-08
    Anon 07-16-08

    ritadeanne

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "fantastic novel"

    I'd read this book a couple times on paper already, so I knew it was long and layered...and feared slightly that an audio version might make it more confusing, but it didn't. The narrator did a great job of conveying the story and maintaining clarity.

    28 of 34 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert Coventry, CT, USA 12-01-08
    Robert Coventry, CT, USA 12-01-08 Member Since 2017
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A Great Story with Wonderful Characters"

    This story takes a while to get going, but stick with it, as it is the best audible book I have listened to with only one exception (The Company). But this story has better characters and is recommended for both Science Fiction fans as well as those who enjoy history. Indeed, this story has the same historical depth and feeling as Ken Follett's The Pillars of Earth. The reader is great and adds much to the quality of the experience. This is Connie Willis' best book. After the first third, you will not be able to put it down, and skipping work to listen to it is compulsory.

    18 of 22 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tango Texas 05-19-13
    Tango Texas 05-19-13

    Two great passions - dogs and books! Sci-fi/fantasy novels are my go-to favorites, but I love good writing across all genres.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Reviews are a better read than this book"

    I hated the Doomsday Book and I totally hated that I could have been spared this 26 hour agony had I only done what I almost always do - READ THE REVIEWS. I usually read many of a book's reviews before buying and I look especially for the more critical reviews since they tend to tell me more of what I want to know. In the case of Doomsday Book there are MANY negative reviews so even though Audible doesn't make critical reviews easy to find, it would not have been hard with this book. But no - I stupidly assumed a book that won both Nebula and Hugo awards had to be good if not great. I mean really - this book is in the rarefied company of truly stellar sci-fi like Ender's Game, Left Hand of Darkness, and Dune. I read the reviews on this book AFTER slogging through this bloated pig of a book and found they were much more interesting and better written than the book itself. To those of you who might have spared me, thanks for taking the time, sorry I was too stupid to take advantage of your efforts.

    I am adding my voice to the chorus just to work out some aggravation over this one. The flaws in Doomsday Book are numerous:

    * NO Editing
    * Poor Writing - repetitive, cliched, terrible dialog, flat out boring sequences of characters' agonizing internally, cardboard characters, stupid and repeated plot devices, no suspense because the author takes 17 hours to get to the big reveal which is actually on the book's cover and you'd figure out anyway after about the first chapter, etc.
    * Unrealistic Settings - you have a time machine and there is no advanced security for the system, the head of the HISTORY dept. is making decisions about the use of the machine, there is only one tech on duty and when he falls ill there seems to be no backup whatsoever. On and on ridiculous beyond anyone's ability to suspend disbelief.
    * Terrible Narration - character voices are awful especially the children and Jenny Sterlin can't do an American accent at all. Sterlin is so slow and deliberate in delivery with a book that is already horribly slow.

    But in my mind, the cardinal sin of this book is that Connie Willis has NO excuse whatsoever for the total miss on the sci-fi side of this book. She may have researched the 14th century, but she didn't seem to have even noticed technology in her own time! Published in 1992 with futuristic part of the novel set in the 2050's:

    * There are no cell phones or any type of portable communication device except something called a "bleeper" which seems to be nothing but a 2050 version of a beeper (oooh - that's creative). C'mon, mobile communications technology has been around since the 40's and the first cell phones hit the scene in 1973! (I had a car phone in 1988.) But our doofus "hero" waits around for a "trunk" call - PUHLEAZE! Willis makes a point to mention that phone calls have video like that's a big advancement - I was installing teleconferencing units in 1984.
    * No GPS - GPS was invented in 1974
    * No Internet/email - First commercial email service was available in 1976. First host-to-host connection which launched the internet was in 1969 and this connectivity came to be called the Internet by the early 70's.
    * Little advancement in medicine or transportation between 1992 and 2050.

    Connie Willis must have been living under a rock. None of the technologies like cellular communications, the Internet/email, GPS were top secret in 1992 and a quick skim of any science/technology journal would have told her all about it. I can't understand how she or the Hugo/Nebula voters thought that a society that would have time travel technology would have lost communications technology that was invented in the 1940's!

    I don't recommend this book to anyone. I have no idea how it won awards, but it has proven to me that no awards or acclaim guarantees a good book. Live and learn...

    60 of 75 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Prsilla 06-09-10
    Prsilla 06-09-10 Member Since 2016

    Retired to mountains of California. Sell on eBay as Prsilla. No TV. Volunteer in wildlife rehab. Knit, sew or embroider while listening.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    579
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    8
    Overall
    "Sobering Trip Back in Time"

    This book is a Medieval cliff-hanger. It rings true to an English major and history buff. It switches between centuries very well. It is full of maddeningly slow procedures, difficulties, barriers, enforcers of rules, people (and cows) who only get in the way, who don't know or won't say. I loved all the different characters of all ages in both centuries and an appreciation of each person's life fitting into the whole story. Do not listen on a rainy day, especially if you are depressed already; and try to have some knitting to do or you might bite your fingernails. While the book has descriptions of rare beauty and magnificent fine character and noble acts, it is also not really a pleasant journey. With less than hour to go, there are still miles to cover in the snow and people to find. A beautifully crafted story, but unlike many really good reads, you're quite relieved when it's over. And I am sure I will listen again. P.S. Nobody milked the cow.

    17 of 21 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Scott FAIRFAX, VIRGINIA, United States 10-28-12
    Scott FAIRFAX, VIRGINIA, United States 10-28-12 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Wow! Really boring."
    Any additional comments?

    The narration of this book was fine, but the story was both formulaic and boring. I didn't care about anyone in the story and just had to stop listening about 2/3rds of the way in, when it became clear that I wasn't -going- to care about any of them.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ellen 10-04-10
    Ellen 10-04-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Good if you want to be depressed"

    I had read Connie Willis' book, To Say Nothing of the Dog. It was lighthearted, historically interesting, fun. This was dark, dismal, historically interesting and so depressing. A good read if you don't mind death, pestulence, putrification. I couldn't wait for it to end.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paul Arlington, VA, United States 11-28-13
    Paul Arlington, VA, United States 11-28-13 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Too long, repetitive, dull and slowly read to boot"
    Any additional comments?

    Very disappointed in this book. It was no where near as enjoyable as the author's book, "To Say Nothing of the Dog." Save your money and skip this dreary book!

    9 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David A United States 04-02-12
    David A United States 04-02-12 Member Since 2001

    Book Obsessed

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "How could this have been published?"

    I can truly say this is one of the slowest books I have ever read.  I can only imaging that the editor was afraid of the author or perhaps on vacation.  

    The same exact points are made over and over and over until I wanted to scream.  What in the world was the author trying to accomplish?  Was it intended as an endurance test?  

    One of the characters announces that something has gone wrong and then faints before he can say what.  Improbable.  But ok.  I accepted that the first time.  But he does it again.  And again.  

    One of the characters has gone fishing.  No one knows where he is.  We know that because we are told that over and over and over.

    Another character is an insufferable snot who makes the same threat again and again and again until I wanted to reach through the speaker and strangle him.

    Now...  If you think I've made this point too many times, just wait until you listen to this recording.

    I cannot imagine how this could have gotten an award.  It doesn't deserve an award.  It deserves an abridgment.  

    The sad thing is that there really is a good story in here. The premise is great. The characters are engaging. I was drawn in by them. I felt compelled to carry on to the end. But it was a near thing. Twice I quit. If I'd had a well paced alternative waiting unread in my library, I wouldn't have made it.

    There is an excellent 7 hour story in this 26-1/2 hour recording.  If you get it I recommend playing it at 2x speed (or 3x if you can tolerate it).  And don't expect anything much to happen for the first say 2/3 of the story.

    19 of 24 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jody R. Nathan Tulsa, OK USA 02-18-12
    Jody R. Nathan Tulsa, OK USA 02-18-12 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "It goes on and on and on and on!"

    The story was good,but come on! you hear what happens in excruciating detail, then the character tells someone what happened in almost as much detail, then guess what? it happens again. And all the gruesome details. . . . ick! I really wanted to like this book; but won't be back for any more! The narrator was good, tho.

    29 of 37 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Daniel 02-05-12
    Daniel 02-05-12 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "save your credit"

    It's like watching a history channel documentary, she keeps repeating the same information over and over. This was a very long and gruesome tale with no point to it. There is some description of life circa 1350 and a lot of descriptions of how awful being sick can be. The science fiction part, time travel, is weak. I get the impression she didn't want to be repetitive on this part of the story. As for the story, it is very predictable and I found no one interesting outside the damsel in distress and by the end just wished they'd all hurry up and die.
    The narrator is very good, but, in keeping with the story, goes very slowly.

    9 of 11 people found this review helpful
Sort by:
  • Diane
    Hannover, Germany
    1/12/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "So awesome"

    This book is so wonderful. I don't even know what to say about it. So wonderful but so devastating. It brings two periods (the unknown future and the unknowable Middle Ages) that I love together.

    Jenny Sterlin's narration is very good. The way she pronounces the Latin and some of the other foreign words and names is at times cringe-worthy, but it's minimal.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Tony Swinton
    Fareham
    10/10/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Very good story"

    The story is amazing a very enjoyable
    The narration is excellent but when the narrator takes a break she said the word break which was not edited out

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Tracey
    2/7/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Detailed Enjoyable Read"

    Not for the faint-hearted and much better than the books even. The narrator brought the characters alive. I liked the accuracy and personal experience of the Black Plague. As a Time Travel author myself, I was impressed with the plot and how it was tied to the current day storyline to make it more interesting. Young Colin was my favourite character.
    I'll be listening to Blackout next. I can't wait!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Andrew Stuart
    Aberdeenshire, Scotland
    6/28/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Drop the Telephone spoils a good story"
    What did you like best about Doomsday Book? What did you like least?

    I got a great feel for what it may have been like to live through the Black Death.
    Sadly Connie Willis chose to pad the story out with superfluous repetition, no hint of mobile phones in the mid 21st century leading to silly repetitive story lines about not being able to contact people. In a similar vein if we can invent a sub dermal recording device surly a micro beacon to enable "Historians" to find "the Drop" would not have been beyond the ability of engineers that can send people back to 1348. Again this created irritating repetitive fluff that spoiled what was a great story.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I enjoyed the historical parts of the story but then again I'm a real fan of Historical fiction.


    What about Jenny Sterlin’s performance did you like?

    She portrayed the emotions of the numerous characters extremely well.


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

    Yes, it ends rather abruptly having raised loads of questions during the plot building about errors and who was at fault for this disastrous "Drop." Additionally more linking the archaeological evidence to the experiences of Kivrin and what other trips do the University staff embark on.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • ingrid
    Worcester, United Kingdom
    6/5/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Fascinating story"
    What made the experience of listening to Doomsday Book the most enjoyable?

    This was a gripping story on several levels with parallels between the past and the story's present. Unexpectedly moving and not easily forgotten.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Doomsday Book?

    The transformation on the naive student of the present day into a tough and resilient charactor.


    Did the narration match the pace of the story?

    Pretty much, a little slow in places, particularly the unnecessary dragging out of the Latin quotations at the start of some chapters.


    If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    A plague on you all?


    Any additional comments?

    Despite some minor irritations with the narration this was a cracking read which kept me up many a long hour

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Tamas Lorincz
    Dubai, UAE
    2/19/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Detail Detail - Far too much detail"

    The authors attempts at making us imagine what it was like in England during the Black Death fall flat. The details (far too many of them for my liking) destroy the momentum. Constantly had a "let's just get on with it" feeling. The narration is so slow that I listened to the back in higher speed. The narration is also tediously monotone and bored. The story, the characters, the events are pretty banal - despite the very promising main idea.
    Get it if you are very-very patient.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • J. L. Cronshaw
    Leeds, UK
    2/4/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Apocalyptic!"

    Excellent story, very good narration. Bridge between well-researched historical fiction and English scifi. highly recommended.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Eva
    1/14/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Highly recommended"

    Gripping story accurately depicting peoples anxieties and worries interacting with each other. Some reviewers have commented that writing is repetitive but this is how the human mind works. Going over things in your head over and over again.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Michelle
    Hawthorn, Australia
    10/1/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Grueling in places but worth it"

    A book about time travel to the Black Death from a future world suffering a pandemic was never going to be exactly cheery. This one is so well written it gets very bleak without being gratuitous. Its also often funny. And I couldn't stop reading, even when I was crying. I HAD to see it through. There were times I wondered if anyone would make it out of the book alive. Be warned, you'll think you can see what's coming and you will often be wrong. Many twists and turns. Ultimately I found the ending satisfying. Connie Willis makes you like the characters, in spite of their many flaws, so that you are sucked into their experience. Jennie Sterlin is a wonderful narrator for this story and I never got lost about who was speaking.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Rosemary White
    5/19/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "History and time travel and grime."

    I really enjoyed the premise of this story, the whole idea seemed quite plausible if the science exists, which it doesn't yet, unless the Historians are here observing and I haven't spotted them. There's no science in this sci fi story as it focusses more on personality and the interaction of the characters and here's where the problem lies for me. Connie Willis makes them really stupid at times and they repeat themselves unnecessarily. I felt I wanted to get hold of the editor, if there was one, give them a good shake and have them excise the extraneous, repetitive mental maunderings. Is there an abridged version? Jenny Stirlin did a sterling job (pun intended) and I applaud her narration, she made this very long story come alive. Also on the plus side, the 14th Century in all its archaic, smelly, dirty, winteriness is very well described. There is some lovely medieval language which flavours the whole book, and the medical aspects were obviously researched, except for the rude, unobservant 21st century nursing staff who annoyed me as well and yes, I do know what I'm talking about as I am in the medical field. Oh its the occasional outbreaks of stupidity of the people inhabiting this book that annoyed me so much, possibly needed as a plot device to move the story along? If so it didn't work for me. I had heard Connie Willis's sequel to this book; "All Clear" first and although there was annoying repetition in that shorter book, it was an easier listen and I enjoyed it, which is why I chose "Doomsday Book". Maybe there was better editing in "All Clear" or Connie had whittled her writing style, anyway be forewarned and forearmed, this is a good book if what bothered me doesn't bother you.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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