BlackoutOxford InIs A Chaotic Place, With Scores Of Time Traveling Historians Being Sent Into The Past Michael Davies Is Prepping To Go To Pearl Harbor Merope Ward Is Coping With A Bunch Of BrattyEvacuees And Trying To Talk Her Thesis Adviser Into Letting Her Go To VE Day Polly Churchill S Next Assignment Will Be As A Shopgirl In The Middle Of London S Blitz But Now The Time Travel Lab Is Suddenly Canceling Assignments And Switching Around Everyone S Schedules And When Michael, Merope, And Polly Finally Get To World War II, Things Just Get Worse For There They Face Air Raids, Blackouts, And Dive Bombing Stukas 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

Constance Elaine Trimmer Willis is an American science fiction writer She is one of the most honored science fiction writers of the 1980s and 1990s.She has won, among other awards, ten Hugo Awards and six Nebula Awards Willis most recently won a Hugo Award for All Seated on the Ground August 2008 She was the 2011 recipient of the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award from the Science Ficti

[PDF / Epub] ☆ Blackout By Connie Willis –
  • Paperback
  • 610 pages
  • Blackout
  • Connie Willis
  • English
  • 04 August 2019
  • 9780553803198

10 thoughts on “Blackout

  1. says:

    Warning This review will be lengthy due to pure hatred.Did I ever tell you that I ve got a time machine There was a freak accident where my laptop and my lawn mower got fused together following a lightning strike, and now I can use it to travel in time It s a long story Anyhow, when I have a chance, I take the occasional trip through history Recently, I popped into London in 1940 during the Blitz to take a look around It s a fascinating time with England hanging on by its fingernails during nightly bombings and waiting for a German invasion that seemed certain.I was getting ready to return to 2010, and started firing up the time mower when suddenly three people, two women and a man, ran up excitedly and started wildly shouting questions at me Are you from the retrieval team Where is your drop What took you so long After a few minutes they finally calmed down enough to introduce themselves They were Polly, Eileen and Mike They saw me with the time mower and figured out I was from the future They demanded to know from when My name s Kemper I m from 2010, I told them Oh, no, Polly wailed You re not from Oxford Uh, no I m from Kansas, I replied So you re not a historian from 2060 like us Mike demanded Nope You guys are from 2060 That s incredible, what s it like I asked Well, it used to be grand We got assignments to go back and observe points in history by going undercover to live and work during these times, Eileen said That sounds like it would be a really exciting adventure, I said No, it s awful, Eileen said You see, something terrible has happened We each had different assignments I was working with evacuated children in the country, Mike was supposed to observe the ships returning from the rescue of the British army at Dunkirk, and Polly was going to work as a shop girl at one of the department stores What happened Well, first, my assignment was terrible The English lady I worked for made us do all this extra war work while she wouldn t lift a finger, and I had to deal with all these children There was this brother and sister, Alf and Binnie, that were always getting into mischief and causing me problems Then there was measles outbreak so I was quarantined for months with the kids so I was long overdue When the quarantine finally lifted, my drop wasn t working You see, the drops are the spots where we can go back to Oxford in 2060, Eileen said Yes, and my drop isn t work either I got a job at a department store, just as planned, but when I tried to check in, it isn t working, Polly said Is your drop not working I asked Mike We re not sure See, I was supposed to arrive in Dover, but there was slippage That s when we don t arrive exactly when and where we were supposed to So I ended up 30 miles away in this little village and three days late A lot of stuff happened after I met Commodore Harold, and it was months before I got back to my drop, and now there are always people around it They won t open if anyone from this time frame can see it, Mike said Who is Commodore Harold He was this old man at the village I was trying to get him to take me in his boat to Dover because I had already missed part of the evacuation But he wouldn t listen to me and kept insisting that he was going to Dunkirk Then I fell asleep on his boat, and he took me there Which was terrible because I probably changed history and now we ll lose the war, Mike said Tears came out of the corners of his eyes We can t change history, Polly said Yes, we can I did, Mike cried You don t know that, Eileen said Yes, I do It s all my fault, he said and sobbed harder Well, if you think you had it bad, I had a terrible time getting a black skirt, Polly said A black skirt I asked in confusion Yes, shop girls must wear a black skirt and everything was confused at Oxford when we were leaving because of schedule changes so wardrobe could only get me a dark blue one I got the job but the woman in charge would fire me if I didn t get a black skirt And I kept trying to get back to the drop so I could go back to Oxford and get one, but I kept getting delayed When I finally got there, the drop wasn t working Plus, I couldn t wrap the packages properly so I had to spend ever so much time practicing it, Polly said Her lip quivered slightly as she remembered the horror of wrapping packages Uh, didn t they give you any money when you came to the past I asked Oh, yes Tons of it, Polly said And you were working in a department store I said Yes So why didn t you just buy a black skirt there instead of spending all that effort trying to time travel to go home and get one I said Polly only looked at me blankly I had problems, too I tried and tried to get out of the quarantine and sneak back to the drop, but Mr Samuels locked the doors, Eileen said Who is Mr Samuels A cop or doctor I asked No, just the old gardener at the estate, she said I had a lot of bother getting a newspaper, Mike volunteered A newspaper I asked Yes, I had to spend some time in a hospital, and I wanted to see the war news to see what I had changed But the nurses thought it was making me too upset So I had to pretend that I wanted to do the crosswords so they d leave me the paper, Mike said proudly OK, forget about the skirt, and the quarantine and the newspaper Don t you people have some kind of back up plan if something went wrong and you couldn t get to your drops I asked Yes, the retrieval teams they shouted in unison I was sure that you were with the retrieval team, Polly said I ve spent so many hours wondering what was keeping my retrieval team, Eileen said I m sure that my retrieval team hasn t been able to locate me, Mike said Where, oh where, could our retrieval teams be Polly said I thought Mike and Polly were my retrieval team when they found me, Eileen said And I thought Mike was my retrieval team, Polly said I know that you two are women and all that, but the next person to say retrieval team is getting punched in the throat, I said OK, so those retre Er, people were supposed to come and get you if something went wrong, but they haven t shown So what was your Plan B Plan B Eileen said Yeah, for if something really went wrong and they couldn t find you or whatever Didn t you have a pre determined spot to meet out some time later Or since all you people were running around this time, did they set up some kind of safe house you could go to in case of emergency That s a good idea, Polly said We ll have to tell Mr Dunworthy that we should do that after the retrieval team OW takes us back, Mike said So no plan other than just sitting around fretting and speculating about what happened Since you re worried that they can t find you, have you put an ad in the paper or anything I asked Oh, I checked the personals to see if the retrieval team..OW..placed an ad trying to find us I thought about putting an ad in so that they could find me, but haven t done it yet, Mike said proudly Uh. You guys do research in the future before you go into the past, right Of course Polly said That would include reading newspapers Yes, we get a lot of information from newspapers, Eileen said And it s never occurred to any of you that if you put a message in that says something like, Hey, Oxford 2060, come pick me up at noon outside Buckingham Palace on Oct 1 that they might see it and meet you there then I asked That s another good idea, Eileen said You ve got a knack for this, Kemper Are you kidding me You re goddamn time travelers, and you never thought of doing that Or leaving a letter with a lawyer for delivery to Oxford in 2060 Haven t you ever seen the Back to the Future movies Or that episode of Quantum Leap where Sam and Al switched places I said Well, I m not sure that it s a matter of Oxford not being able to find us I think something went wrong and that they can t come back for some reason, Polly said It s my fault Mike shrieked Oh, do shut up, Polly snapped Even before we left, something was going on Mr Dunworthy was changing assignments like mad, and they were having a terrible time finding drop sites And they were very worried about us reporting any slippage That s true, Mike said Mr Dunworthy changed my assignment from Pearl Harbor to Dunkirk so I had almost no time to prepare And Polly couldn t get the right clothes, and Eileen had a hard time getting the driving lessons she needed So this Mr Dunworthy is a douche bag that sends you guys into the past with no preparation I said Oh, no He cares about us ever so much He sets very strict rules about where we can live and work in the past, and if there s so much of a hint of danger, he ll pull us right off an assignment He d send a retrieval team OW in a second if he knew we were in trouble, Eileen said confidently.I sighed and rubbed my temples for a couple of minutes Then I took a deep breath Let me see, I ve got this straight You re all historians from 2060 at Oxford who work for a guy named Dunworthy who is supposedly very strict about your safety Yet, he did a last minute change of schedule with no explanation that left people going to England in 1940 unprepared and ill equipped for the assignment You were stupid enough to come anyhow, and you re all seemingly incapable of dealing with anything as mundane as unruly children or overbearing people Plus, the simplest task like obtaining a black skirt or a newspaper turns into a major undertaking for you Even outwitting a senile boat captain or a gardner was beyond your abilities Now something has gone wrong, and your only plan is to sit around whining about your retrieval teams Is that about it I said Yes, that s about the size of it, Mike said Please, Kemper We really need your help, Polly said Well, you all may be morons, but it s your lucky day because a guy with a time mower showed up I guess I can t leave you here, I said That s wonderful So you ll take a message to Oxford Eileen said A message I asked Yes We ll write a message to Mr Dunworthy and you can take it to him Then he ll send a retrieval team OW back for us, Polly said.They just kept grinning and smiling at me as I looked at them in disbelief Guy with a working time machine standing right here, I said slowly.They nodded And all you want me to do is to take a message to the future for you They nodded Not, you know, just take you to Oxford in 2060 Oh, no, Mike said What if we left and the retrieval team OW shows up Changed my mind Not doing shit for you Sit here and wait Hopefully, the Germans will drop a bomb on your stupid, wussy, worthless, whining asses See ya in hell, I said as I fired up the time mower and started to fade away.The last thing I heard before leaving 1940 was, When do you think the retrieval team will arrive In Summary of a Shitty BookI have never been subjected to such painful characters in my life All three of the major players are exactly the same Almost the entire book is their inner dialogues which consist solely of fretting about stupid trivial crap, wild speculation that turns out to be completely wrong and repeatedly asking, Oh, when will the retrieval team arrive You d think that time travelers should be hardy adventurers with the ability to improvise and adapt to problems These dumbasses can t complete the simplest of tasks without it becoming a story of epic proportions Seriously, the first chapter of this book is a guy trying to find Dunworthy at Oxford and having all these internal discussions with himself about where he might be, where he should look for him, what his secretary will say, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, someone please shoot me The rest of the book consists of characters doing pretty much the same thing.Even worse, this is the first of two books so even after reading all this drivel, you don t get any resolution to the story When I m on my deathbed, I ll be cursing the name of Connie Willis for writing this piece of shit and tricking me into wasting precious hours of my life.

  2. says:

    UGH i dunno guys I know it won the Hugo but I m ok to have a differing opinion, right I will definitely give credit, the book is IMPECCABLY researched So much time and detail into WWII England, justbravo for the research ALONE it deserved an award.But I mean, bar none, this book does NOT feel like a stand alone From my investigations the publisher split the plot in two, and it s so clunky with the ending it shows The book could TOTALLY have stood an edit pass that took out tomes of unnecessary info and just compiled the two books into one.Ok, BARRING THAT, I am a HUGE Connie Willis fan To Say Nothing of the Dog is one of my all time FAVORITE books, so I m into her time travel world and setup Unfortunately, this book really just felt static to me, I mean the whole point of it is that people are traveling back in time and know EXACTLY WHATS GOING TO HAPPEN and then it kind of seems like it s not gonna go like they think it s supposed toand then it does ugh And then most of the OTHER part of the book is basically, Will X get to Y or will their paths never cross And THEN I feel like the main charactersI mean seriously they are all so plain, you could have switched each character out of their plot and into another and it felt like they would have acted the same Could one of them had no scruples, or one of them have sex with someone Or be a bully Or anything other than just going along with the plot I dunno, there were parts I was SO INTO but the verbosity and lack of character just compel me to post a bit critically which I often don t do, but I felt that there were people who might love this book, so feel free to try it I m not sorry I read it for sure, just a few frustrating aspects that make me reluctant to finish the second installment.

  3. says:

    Sometimes, if it takes you 10 years to write a book, you just shouldn t Willis has a writing tick that absolutely annoys me, but in the past, I ve been able to mainly ignore it because the storylines have been good But her annoying writing tick overwhelms any story that was to be had in this book The tick I m speaking of is her tendency to talk about every mundane humdrum thing and to catch up every personality less character that walks in the room concerning these mundane humdrum things In Doomsday Book which shares a world and characters with this one , Willis had a character tell everyone that walked in the door that there was no toilet paper and why In this book, Willis has the main character wandering around looking here and there and yonder for someone and everyone telling him alternate ideas of where this person might be She has characters ramble off lists of what they should do and alternative lists if the hoped for scenario doesn t work out Experiencing this book is like being stuck inside one of those exhausting dreams where you relive and repeat some mundane task you ve done over and over for the day If you have writers block for 10 years, for the love of God, don t write until you have something for your characters to do other than run around looking for things, making lists, and getting lost Somewhere in all this mess is a time travel story involving World War something or the other.I hate to admit that I was absolutely unable to finish reading this book Willis tedious daily grind style of writing nearly drove me mad I couldn t take any of the characters re hashing EVERYTHING over and over to everyone and thinking out loud about every step of their day to day life Plus, the characters as usual have no discernible personality Listening to this book in CD in the car would eventually always makes my baby cry she rarely cries , probably because the reader is so blasted annoying, especially when she does children s dialogue.I read an interview at the I09 book club with Willis concerning this book I found it interesting that the interview questions are mainly asking her why she wasted so many words having her characters run around in circles in their brains and in their actions in this book At least I m not alone in my analysis Yeesh.

  4. says:

    Oh, I m such a liar This wasn t three stars, it was two While I love some of Connie s other works, this one doesn t work for me Logically inept, grossly meandering and strongly in need of some editing While I liked pieces of the storyline, as a whole it lacked enough coherence to be enjoyable.

  5. says:

    Blithering idiots.Read rage.That is all.

  6. says:

    Blackout All Clear.The two books are really one novel thanks, publishers, for getting me to pay double so there s no reason to talk about them separately.They re also part of Willis time travel series, although they re not advertised as such I really wouldn t recommend starting with these books I feel that a lot of the questions and criticism of these books that I see in other reviews stems from the likelihood that readers haven t read the other books in the series The Doomsday Book, To Say Nothing of the Dog, and Fire Watch At the very least, you MUST read Fire Watch before reading these books.That said, the books are excellent Blackout starts slowly, but Willis does a great job of gradually but surely building the tension and intensity of the story, working from trivial humor up to tragedy and the tragedy that can spring from the trivial although it never gets as intense as The Doomsday Book The pacing is the main reason why I feel that the book should not have been split in two The end revelations also came dangerously close to getting too sentimental religious for me but I think they fall on the OK side of that lineI found the representation of London during the Blitz to be completely convincing and memorable I found myself saying, wow, I didn t know And I ve also decided that it is virtually incomprehensible that I ve been to London over a dozen times, and I don t think that I ve ever been inside St Paul s cathedral I m sure Willis would think that was sad and horrifically neglectful.For another depiction of the Blitz, which also focuses on its effect on ordinary individuals, I d highly recommend Sarah Waters The Night Watch.

  7. says:

    The past is a foreign country they do things differently there L P Hartley Say GRRRR it helps soothe the pain S GatlandGRRRRRRR.I have to give Blackout a very mixed review Wonderful as it was to read, it s either supremely na ve or grandly arrogant to assume you don t have to introduce PLOT to a thriller until page 254 It is true that I enjoyed reading the first 90,000 words or so that s a decent novel s worth of words , I enjoyed the characters and the premise and all the little unrelated incidents enough to keep reading at a good clip until I got to the twisty bit But I wasn t hooked until the defining moment on page 254 when Polly realizes things really are not as they should be And I wish I hadn t had to spend 90,000 words being annoyed at the historians smug asides and dopey preconceptions and wishing something intriguing would happen Eileen taking care of the measly evacuees entertaining, yes, but terribly Doomsday Book I kind of felt like I was watching a re run.But then, page 254 and onward for a bit Polly s night under fire, waiting for the drop that never opens, really swallowed me and I do appreciate that the effectiveness of this scene is due in part to the 90,000 word build up of her complacency about being able to get home I loved her falling apart, the chaos was vivid, and I really felt the gulf of time of being both stuck and damned, with the possibility of death and the unknown looming ahead curious, and ironic, and of course planned, that the FUTURE is what becomes the terrible unknown Love it And then Eileen watching the dogfight between the Me 109 and the Spitfires, and suddenly realizing that she is watching the Battle of Britain. It is wonderful.So then I expected the Plot to begin, and I was decidedly disappointed 100 pages later when I realized that in fact the plot had been going on for a while and was simply, Please sort my schedule out Oh noes, I am stuck here, when are you going to rescue me Because for some reason, everything I d heard about this book led me to believe that there was intrigue involved and possibly romance And I have to say, if Mike is going to be the romance, better Polly or Merope than me I would have to smack him in the head 20 times a day I feel kind of cheated, and a little baffled, that the total intrigue of this thriller amounts to three totally unprepared historians hunting for a way out of their chosen field of study I was REALLY LOOKING FORWARD TO THE INTRIGUE.Also my God didn t the Oxford tech team learn ANYTHING from their previous trips How can each historian be equipped with ONE DROP only How is the ONLY WAY back, if a drop doesn t work, dependent on a whole damn retrieval team going in, like the Marines Why is there not a permanent safety drop somewhere in Northumbria, or a fixed communication point for people who might be visiting the same time period I m thinking a LETTERBOX Quite simple, really Why are the historians so TOTALLY unprepared for the possibility they might be stuck in their fieldwork a little longer than expected, to the point where they don t know ANYTHING about the events immediately preceding and following their highly esoteric 3 days worth of specialization Why does NO ONE have a contingency plan They are RESEARCHERS, not TOURISTS, and they have chosen to go into a WAR ZONE They are like reporters in Gaza They MUST know they might get stuck there, or fired on, or kidnapped, or whatever.Blimey, I wish one of them HAD been kidnapped Now THAT would be a PLOT.There are a lot of little Americanisms that make me smile Granted Mike has got an language accent implant, but that shouldn t make him not know what a cryptic crossword is, or think that the shot down aircraft stats printed in the paper are like baseball scores A camp bed isn t called a cot here, a hole in your stocking isn t called a run The hats are trilbies, not fedoras Maybe as an American writer living in the UK I am aware of these things I suffered a bit as an amateur historian, too I know too many curious little factoids that kept making me doubt Willis s historical accuracy OVERALL The Battle of Britain did not end the moment the Blitz began Margerie saying that it was dark by half past three in the afternoon because of the blackout on page 341 makes no sense at all except between 19 Nov 39 and 25 Feb 40, Britain actually set its clocks an hour ahead to save on daylight, 2 hours ahead in the summer, and anyway Margerie lives in London, not in Scotland where it DOES get dark at half past three, but only in the dead of winter Leslie Howard did not become an RAF pilot he was a passenger aboard a commercial flight, a BOAC KLM DC 3, which was shot down by the Luftwaffe under shady circumstances ET CETERA They are tiny flaws but they jar me.The Washington Post reviewer who gushes that this book is as vivid an evocation of England during World War II as anyone has ever written has obviously never read any Robert Westall But Willis does capture something atmospheric and unidentifiable that makes it feel real riddled with inaccuracy and yet TRUE and now I realize I m kind of quoting someone else here, which comes as a surprise, and I suppose it s a compliment If you take Willis s detailing with a grain of salt and skip over the ponderous air raid schedules some of Polly s catalogues of safe underground shelters and train times read like Five Red Herrings and make me LOSE THE WILL TO LIVE still Blackout is gripping and evocative in its own right I think Willis rather aspires to Sayersdom, and I suppose she succeeds in that I can read her and adore her books despite their flaws, quite an achievement for any writer now that I have become so incredibly hypercritical in my jaundiced old age I am psyched to have rediscovered this wonderful writer nearly 20 years after my own memorable fieldwork experience in Oxford s score of bell towers and yeah, I remember, her grasp of bell ringing and ringers was flawed too But we still love Doomsday Book .So, I m off to order All Clear Can I just point out that these could easily have been ONE BOOK if Willis and her editor had cooperated a wee bit closely and left out all the dithering, the train schedules, the interminable lists of air raid shelters, and the tour of every department store in London And the relentless repetition on every other page for the reader s benefit I suppose, lest we forget , of someone wailing, But this is time travel

  8. says:

    A warning This book has no proper ending It was meant to be the first half of a book but the publisher divided it into two books and Blackout is the first half All Clear is the second book second half of the book Definitely have All Clear on hand to read immediately after this book I finished this book and started the next the same day and that s the way to do it I deliberately read this slowly so there wouldn t be a gap before I could read the next book.I was completely enthralled This book is so much fun to read.I can t believe that this is my first Connie Willis time travel book, and it s very rare that I don t read series, even loose series, in order This is book four in the Oxford time travel books, although it is the first of two of the All Clear books I could tell that at least two characters had made prior appearances in other books, and normally that would bother me, but I was so engaged with this book that I truly didn t care I felt perfectly content to go back and, after I read All Clear, I ll in the near future read Doomsday Book and the other two books I don t mind going backward to read them, quite appropriate for time travel books, which I do love I am a bit embarrassed that I haven t read this author s books given that her books are exactly my cup of tea.I was in heaven historical fiction where I really learned so much about what it was like to be a civilian in London and evacuation areas and other parts of England during WWII, speculative fiction which is one of my favorite genres, and time travel for which I have a particular penchant, and even a favorite time travel books shelf here at Goodreads.I like that it s a character named Ira Feldman, a Jewish man, who invented time travel, and that his parents seem to have lived during WWII That fact is mentioned just in passing, but I definitely noted it.I enjoyed all the main characters Polly, Merope Eileen, Mike, and also many others in 2060 and 1940 They re characters that I cared about and they all seemed completely authentic I was starting to list a few memorable characters but there were too many so I ll just say that and leave readers to meet and get to know them when they read this book There was a bunch of repetition during the book, particularly the long last part, but it worked for me because it s the kind of obsessive and repetitive thinking and worrying I would do in those circumstances, and having the characters in the book do it gave the events such a feeling of immediacy Most of the action takes place in 1940 and thereabouts but the world of Oxford in 2060 was also fascinating I love the way the time traveler historians from 2060 have to learn the ways of 1940, such as how to drive a gasoline powered car of the time.Willis was already a well known and published author so I was somewhat surprised by the many spelling, grammatical, etc errors, especially in the beginning of the book, but I also caught a couple of mistakes at the end of the book as well.However, the story and characters are so riveting, and the premise is so creative, that while not perfect, this was a wonderful 5 star book for me It was a rollicking ride and a perfect comfort read I will shelve it at the Comfort Reads group, if another member hasn t already done that It was just a blast for me to read I m about to happily dive into All Clear.

  9. says:

    I have a very short list of authors whose work I eagerly await Connie Willis just stepped off that list with this turkey This book cuts off abruptly with a promo for the second book, but if it had been decently edited the whole mess would have fit in one volume Three incompetent characters are dropped into WW2 London by obviously incompetent staffers Before they even left I was thinking that I wouldn t let these dingbats put me on a bus, much less a time machine These folks are supposed to check in regularly with their home time After each of them is stymied by implausible coincidences, they can t connect It s not hard for the reader to figure out that something s wrong, but our heroes are each stuck in a loop of optimism, and keep trying, unable to even consider the possibility of a problem It s like watching Homer Simpson stick his finger in an electrical socket over and over again OK, the descriptions of life in the Blitz are very good But two of the lead characters are dithering wimps, and even brave in action Mike is channeling moany groany Thomas Covenant the rest of the time The characters around them are mixed, some cardboard, some ludicrously exaggerated, and a few believable Alf, Binnie and Mrs Rickett are right out of Dickens, and Terry Pratchett could probably place them in Ankh Morpork, but they re just too unsubtle for this book.In the first 50 pages we re introduced to the mysterious Head Guy through his many arbitrary decisions, and to a teenager who makes Mickey Rooney look unenthusiastic 500 pages later we haven t seen the slightest hint of them I don t know if I can stand another 500 pages of this mucilage, or another 217 descriptions of the exact date and time when a particular building was bombed, or what time a siren went off Willis s Doomsday Book was excellent, but this just isn t It s not even good If you want time travel go read Kage Baker.

  10. says:

    Connie Willis created a beautiful piece of time travel historical fiction with Blackout Depending on how you want to look at this book it is either the first book in the All Clear series or the third installment of the Oxford Time Travel series Blackout includes characters from The Doomsday Book with Colin Templar and Mr Dunworthy They are not the stars of this double decker novel but they do play very important roles Blackout revolves around three historians from the future sent to observe different key events during World War II Blackout is the story of what happens when their assignments end but they can t get back home They either can t get to their drops or they are damaged and won t work Oxford should send a retrieval team Blackout is what happens when they don t show up.I ve read this and All Clear three times I ve listened to them and read them and enjoy it both ways What Connie Willis does extraordinarily well with these books is make the experience of the everyday person who didn t enlist in the war accessible During World War II people in London were shop girls, children, and old men She focuses on the every day heroics of the people who lived at the time and took the famous words of Churchill to heart, Keep calm and carry on These words that have been appropriated by a new generation were originally meant to steady a people who were sleeping in bomb shelters and waking to find their homes and places of employment bombed People who would never have been thought of heroes are highlighted as old clerics joining the fire brigade to keep St Paul s safe, the shop girls who signed up to become Ambulance drivers and WRENS, children under the age of 16 who were collecting scrap metal and lying to become ARP wardens Willis paints a realistic picture of rationing and living conditions during one of the coldest, wettest, and bleakest winters in England during 1940 Our historians experience this from the perspective and benefit of privilege They are from the future where the living conditions and medical breakthroughs make life much easier They haven t had to deal with shortage They are historians and they researched the conditions but research and experience are two different things They have the advantage of knowing that they win the war but the tables are turned when they can t get home There is a fear that they have changed events What if they did something to alter the course of the war They become the contemporaries they were studying Their only hope is to find other historians studying World War II If they can find another drop site they will have found a way home.Willis explores the invasion of Dunkirk, experiences of the evacuated children, the fall of the service class, the Blitz, and the V1 attacks Her research is solid She did eight years of research to complete these two books Some have found the books to be daunting and long due to the amount of detailed historical information included This, however, is what makes this book special for me She provides great information sources, but one in particular caught my attention She utilized the Mass Observation Diaries heavily and credits them as being invaluable The diaries came from observers and volunteers in London recruited by Mass Observation Harrison founded the organization in 1937 with Madge and Jennings to create an anthropology of ourselves The writers chronicled the lives of ordinary people in Britain By luck, the study neglected to tell the volunteers writing the journals the study was ending prior to the start of World War II creating an amazing resource of first hand accounts detailing the everyday lives of Brittish citizens during the war Follow this link to find out about the original Mass Observation project I can see why some people would have a hard time engaging in the All Clear Series It is a commitment to read them Blackout is 512 pages and All Clear is 643 pages Willis refers to them as a double decker novel because Blackout ends abruptly and starts up immediately with All Clear Many have argued it should have been one book, but if two is a bit unwieldy one would have been extremely off putting You will want the sequel immediately Plan to either download All Clear , buy the physical book when you get three fourths of the way done, or download the fabulous narration by Katherine Kellgren immediately after finishing Blackout I do not recommend this for people with a short attention span, or those who are looking for a light read It is hopeful, but it is also drenched in data If you want a light time travel piece I would encourage you to pick up Rysa Walker s Timebound or Just One Damned Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor Blackout is a great time travel novel and is a personal favorite Rarely have I seen an author be able to weave such great fiction around factual history Usually you get one or the other If you enjoy historical fiction with the added enjoyment of science fiction time travel this is perfect for you.If you like this you may like The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis Crytonomicon by Neal Stephenson

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