Blackout by

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Oxford - April 2060 Colin tried the door, but it was locked.
Connie Willis - Blackout - c.2010 - pg.1

Set in the same ‘verse as Doomsday Book and To say nothing of the dog this is a book about historians. But not the sort of historian you or I might be familiar with, but one who actually travels through time and investigates the past in person. Mr Dunworthy’s time travel department in Oxford is having a spot of bother. Schedules are being changed and moved about all other place. This does not please the historians, especially those like Michael who have just been implanted with American accents in preparation for heading to Pearl Harbour and are not, instead, heading to Dover. But they’ll still travel, because it is the only timetable open to them.

Blackout by Connie Willis
Blackout by Connie Willis
The story in Blackout is told from a variety of perspectives, all studying World War II. Polly is in London researching the blitz spirit. Eileen is in the countryside looking at the evacuee situation, and Mike should be studying the ordinary heroes of Dunkirk.

To be honest, at first I wasn’t really gripped by any of the storylines. But I gradually got hooked and in the end I did enjoy the book. Only of course it isn’t finished. This book was published in two volumes and so I must go look for All clear now and find out what has happened to everyone.

If you pay attention to my genre labels you’ll see that I’ve called this one sff & historical fiction. technically I suppose if should just be sff, but there is so much details about the lives of people during the war that I do think that historical fiction fans who like that period should give this a go. You can always put it down if you don’t like it.

As I said, I did *get* to like this book, and enjoy it, but at the same time I’m not sure quite why it won so many awards. It is good, but not great. Does that mean the competition wasn’t up to much? or is it just that part two will really wow me?

If you’ve read Connie Willis before then you’ll know the sort of book this is. If you haven’t, I’d recommend you start with Doomsday book as it is the first of her novels in this ‘verse. There is also a short story, Fire Watch, but I haven’t read that yet. You can jump straight into this one without reading the others, but it will help to introduce terms and concepts like slippage and drops and the like.

Other reviews: Rhapsody in books ; I’m booking it ; Semicolon

Post Author: Fence

7 thoughts on “Blackout

    rhapsodyinbooks

    (8 October 2011 - 3:46 pm)

    I would agree with you in many respects. As for why it won, I would say that the good aspects of the book (e.g., the historical research; the emphasis on impact on civilians; the reflections on individual impact on historical outcomes; the ending (which you won't know till you get through the second book) are very good, enough to cancel out the more negative aspects (e.g., in my opinion, going on and on about some subjects; the name confusion; the taking the usual Connie Willis tropes to the nth degree…) And then there is the whole question of the quality or lack thereof of the competition. I'm not familiar with the contenders, but I think Willis is (usually) heads and shoulders above the rest, with her cleverness, her dialogue, her meticulous research, and her characterizations.
    rhapsodyinbooks´s last blog post ..Review of “Cold Kiss” by Amy Garvey

      Fence

      (13 October 2011 - 8:53 pm)

      She is a clever writer. Although personally I preferred Mira Grant's Feed which was also nominated for a Hugo. I haven't read any of the others. Or any of the other nominated books in the Nebula & Locus awards.

      Glad to hear that the ending is good.

    Nymeth

    (8 October 2011 - 4:54 pm)

    I loved both Doomsday Book and To Say Nothing of the Dog, and I won this one in a contest a while ago, but I'm actually waiting to get my hands on All Clear to read it because I've heard that they're best if read back to back. So yes, perhaps all the wow factor is in the second part!
    Nymeth´s last blog post ..Happy Ada Lovelace Day!

      Fence

      (13 October 2011 - 8:54 pm)

      It does end without an ending. So that sucks :) Look forward to reading your review whenever you get around to it.

    Kailana

    (9 October 2011 - 1:39 am)

    I have only read To Say Nothing of the Dog, but I really want to read more by her. Lots of people seem to love her other books.
    Kailana´s last blog post ..Friday Reads – 13th Edition (On Saturday)

      Fence

      (13 October 2011 - 8:55 pm)

      It's funny. I wouldn't say that I *love* her work. But I'd always be interested in reading her books. She is always, in my experience, interesting and engaging. But I have yet to fall in love with any of her characters.

    All clear | Susan Hated Literature

    (2 January 2012 - 3:23 pm)

    […] to Blackout, and set in the Mr. Dunworthy ‘verse. Or at least that’s what I’m calling this […]

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