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Doomsday Book (Oxford Time Travel #1)

4.03  ·  Rating Details  ·  31,836 Ratings  ·  3,280 Reviews
For Kivrin, preparing an on-site study of one of the deadliest eras in humanity's history was as simple as receiving inoculations against the diseases of the fourteenth century and inventing an alibi for a woman traveling alone. For her instructors in the twenty-first century, it meant painstaking calculations and careful monitoring of the rendezvous location where Kivrin ...more
Audiobook, Unabridged, 27 pages
Published March 28th 2008 by Recorded Books (first published 1992)
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The Middle Ages are a shady back alley of history. They are a juvenile delinquent to which all the 'proper' historical eras give the proverbial side-eye.
“Life expectancy in 1300 was thirty-eight years,” he had told her when she first said she wanted to go to the Middle Ages, “and you only lived that long if you survived cholera and smallpox and blood poisoning, and if you didn’t eat rotten meat or drink polluted water or get trampled by a horse. Or get burned at the stake for witchcraft.”
And y
Mar 24, 2007 Conrad rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: borrowed, fiction
What I find most objectionable about this book is its apparent lack of editing. Half the novel consists of people panicking over the phone about other phone conversations other people have had about people getting on and off trains who are the children of WHO CARES. Willis has no sense of perspective, no skill for inventing the suggestive detail; consequently, this novel is a monument to the gods of boredom. This on top of the implausible premise that if time travel were available as a technolog ...more
mark monday
Mar 11, 2013 mark monday rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
and what exactly was the point of this nearly 600-page novel? that people can be incredibly annoying and repetitious? that the Black Death kills? i can't believe i wasted so many hours reading this flabby, irritating nonsense. i could have been spending time with friends or exercising or taking naps. or reading another book. the entire thing is a monument to wasted time - my time and the characters' time and the 5 years of time it took to write this extravagantly dreary ode to pointlessness.


Christmas 2010: I realised that I had got stuck in a rut. I was re-reading old favourites again and again, waiting for a few trusted authors to release new works. Something had to be done.

On the spur of the moment I set myself a challenge, to read every book to have won the Locus Sci-Fi award. That’s 35 books, 6 of which I’d previously read, leaving 29 titles by 14 authors who were new to me.

While working through this reading list I got married, went on my honeymoon, switched career and became
I finished Doomsday Book this morning and immediately moved on to the next book on my to-read list, which happens to be Hyperion by Dan Simmons. Doomsday Book left me a little messed up in the head and I wanted to replace the imagery and train of thought with something new. I figured I'd have to let Doomsday Book mull around in my head for a while before I could write an effective review. I figured the same about Iain Banks' Transition, another book I recently finished. So my plan was to read Hy ...more
May 05, 2009 Tracey rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone that wants to become a bell ringer
OMG I am finally finished! What a travel down a monotonous road. I will not attempt to say once again what has been so eloquently said many times before. But one thing that I had to mention was a phrase that has stuck in my mind for days. I found myself last week picking up the book so that I might be able to put closure on it. So there I am reading (ok skimming) this book as some say “Best time-travel novel I've ever read!” or “a study of people's behavior” what behavior, all the characters did ...more
Jennifer (aka EM)
Jul 05, 2010 Jennifer (aka EM) rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jennifer (aka EM) by: Ian Foster
Updated: 07/05/10

Connie Willis shows us that we do not need to look to the future for an apocalyptic setting suitable for exorcising whatever demons haunt us, testing whatever faith we may or may not have, revealing the height of humanity's capacity for compassion or the depth of its misery. We had the mid-14th Century for that.

These ain't Jesuits on a distant planet, or a man and a boy wandering down a road.

This shit really happened, people.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

A week ago or so, I
Feb 04, 2014 Mike rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi, xcharity-2011
I am very concerned. I read “The Doomsday Book” time travel saga, eagerly anticipating it based on the many Goodreads reviews that highly praise this story. Many reviewers whom I trust rave about this book. I just didn’t see it at all, not a bit. Not only was it supremely boring, but annoying. The first 120 pages can be summarized: “something is wrong”. During the next 180 pages, the rest of the characters realize there is “something wrong”. Yawn! I felt like slapping virtually every character i ...more
Oct 01, 2007 Cori rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone. Ever.
From my blog:

If you haven't read anything by Connie Willis, I highly suggest that you stop whatever you're doing and go out and get one of her books.

Willis is sort of a giant in the science fiction world -- she's won Hugo and Nebula awards, among many others. This is the third book I've read by her (in addition to To Say Nothing of the Dog and Bellwether), and I must say, the woman can write. Her plots are engaging and funny and heartbreaking and her books are nearly impossible to put down.

Glenn Russell
Dec 31, 2014 Glenn Russell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

The Doomsday Book by the American author Connie Willis is an amazing, unique, captivating 600 page novel taking place in two times concurrently: near-future Oxford, England and a 14th Century medieval English village. Historian and Great Courses lecturer Teofilo Ruiz recommended this work to me and I’m glad he did – Doomsday Book is a terrific read.

The novel is science-fiction in the sense that those 21st century Brits have the technology to place historians back in time via a sophisticated vers
MINI REVIEW: this book won a Hugo and Nebula for 1992 and a host of other awards. It's a nod to the historical “Domesday Book” of 1086 and focuses upon a futuristic society sending some of its people back into the past to Oxford, England but an error puts the main character into that area during the Black Plague. Note that while they are sending people out that said society has their own plague epidemic taking place.

The strengths of this novel are its attention to Historical details, the engagi
Aug 18, 2014 Apatt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, favorites
This is one of the elite novels that won both Hugo and Nebula awards, there are not many of those and they are generally very good books though you and I can always find some titles to be undeserving, c'est la vie. Before starting on reading this novel I looked around Goodreads and Amazon for some consensus of opinion among other readers. I found the prevailing opinion to be on the positive side but it is always interesting to note the negatives also, in case the reviewers hate the same things I ...more
Mar 03, 2013 Guillermo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction

I think Connie Willis did a great job at portraying something so absolutely horrible that it defies comprehension. I had read about the plague that almost eradicated Europe, but nothing could prepare me for what I read here. The horrors of the Black Death seem to be something so far beyond anything we could imagine.. I found myself cringing and pleading: "she's not going to go there... she's not going to go there.. so when she's devastating.

The feeling of abandonment that these peopl
Mar 09, 2012 Helene rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition

If you're only going to read one book this year... Make sure this one is simply on hand in case you run out of toilet paper. If you think that's being crude, let me remind you a lack of toilet paper is one of her side plots she uses to move things along. And by move things along, I mean NOTHING IN THIS STORY GOES ANYWHERE EVER.

This book won a Nebula and Hugo award. Oh swoon, right? OMG this must be awesome, right??? Well, no... A
Jun 08, 2016 Elizabeth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars. Review originally published on the booksandpieces blog.

A really wonderful in-depth story of time-travel and the very real difficulties of trying to survive in the past. Remember that old adage - "the past is a foreign country" - well if nothing else brings that home then this book will. The uncanny similarities and differences of life in the middle ages, the horrible reality of a world without modern medicine - they're just for starters.

Because then there's that extra layer of clever
Following my abject failure with noir wizards, I'm retreating to an audiobook that seems to contain everything I like: lady-protagonists, time travel, semi-distant British history, and plague. Loads of plague.


(Gen up on the plot before you read this one: it's not very spoilery, but I'm going to dive right in and assume you know roughly the premise from the start.)

I've been wondering how to approach this review for ages. Looking at what other people have written, it seems that the g
Aug 25, 2015 Marita rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fast-forward a few years hence to Oxford, and then travel all the way back to the 14th century with this gem of a book. In the process a Pandora's box is opened and the contents revealed.

I prefer to say less rather than more in order not to spoil this story for you, and for that reason most of my thoughts on the book are between spoiler tags. Let me just say that it has become possible to send historians back in time so that they can observe and participate in events as they happen. But what if?
Well, I can safely say this is the best book I’ve ever read about time-traveling historians and deadly diseases that kill a shit ton of people.

And no, it’s not the only book I’ve read about that! I read Timeline about ten years ago, although I barely remember it. Anyway, I love Michael Crichton books, but Connie Willis’s writing is on a whole other level. Although they both write science fiction, Crichton was first and foremost a thriller writer, and judging by Doomsday Book, Willis is more inte

It won the Hugo and Nebula awards, and if there were an award for most repetitious, Doomsday Book would have won that too. Its premise is a great one, and the story is straightforward and intriguing, but Doomsday Book could easily have been half as many pages with no harm to the story. For almost the entirety of the book, Willis repeatedly detailed a main character’s struggles to extract vital information from another character; at least a dozen times hammered home that the Blac
Jan 22, 2009 Marc rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Why I hated this book by Marc.

I read a lot. The number of books I list on my read list here is a fraction of what I read. And for the most part, none have reviews, just ratings, because I have little time to write reviews. But I just had to comment on "The Doomsday Book". I fell into a trap. I read reviews of the book before I bought it, and those reviews help convince me to give it a try. That is something I usually do not do. I usually read the back cover, and if it sounds good, I buy it. But
Jun 02, 2016 Jeraviz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Me ha entretenido y he querido saber lo que ocurría al final, y eso es mucho más de lo que consiguen la mayoría de libros que leo. La premisa y la ambientación son los grandes pilares de la novela y los que consiguen engancharte.
Pero Connie Willis se va más por las ramas que Tarzan. Personajes, situaciones y diálogos que, aunque se lean rápido y puedan ser más o menos entretenidos, una vez que los analizas te das cuenta de que no han servido para avanzar la trama lo más mínimo.
Mar 23, 2011 Mariel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Willard
Recommended to Mariel by: the pied piper
I wouldn't write a review of Connie Willis's Doomsday Book (there are loads of great reviews already, what could I add, etc.) if it were not for this little guy:

Not this very same little guy, of course. The rats that caused the black death were black rats (it'd have been neat if they were black and white rats. "The black and white death!" "What's white about it? It's death. There aren't even any grey areas.")

I loved the rat in the cage parts. They didn't know they were gonna set the plague on Eu
Kelly H. (Maybedog)
This is one of the best books I have ever read, my second favorite book of all time. The amount of detail and research that Ms. Willis must have done is staggering and yet the book is very readable and the people come alive. Rather than either idolizing or condeming the past or the future, Willis presents both in a very real, all-too-human light. Though the book is long, I plowed through it, and was never bored. I like all of her books, but this is one of Willis' best. I don't usually like time- ...more
Jul 25, 2008 Jeffrey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Okay, I've been ignorant of Connie Willis for way, way too long. This is the second book of hers that I've read and the second of hers that I've adored. It wasn't nearly as funny as To Say Nothing of the Dog, but given that a large part of the book was set in the early 14th century in England rather than late 19th century, that is hardly surprising. We are back in the same world of Oxford with the struggling history department sending out historians to do on site work. I wasn't careful with some ...more
Sep 03, 2013 Natalie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've taken a while to get round to reviewing this, largely because I absolutely loved it but couldn't at first quite articulate why. I think it took me reading another by Connie Willis (Fire Watch, a collection of short stories, with the title story set in the same universe as this book) to work out just what it was about Doomsday Book that got me.

Doomsday Book starts out in Oxford in 2048. Its an odd future Oxford - it reads a lot like last century Oxford. I suppose this is because the novel wa
Lance Greenfield
Connie Willis is a very imaginative writer. I love the time travel genre, and this story is one of the better ones that I have read. However, at almost 600 pages, this book is way too long. The pace is so slow and repetitive that I believe that the first 400 pages could have been condensed into about a quarter of that length.

All the way through, Finch, who is the secretary of one of the main characters, Dunworthy, complains about the lack of "lavatory paper." All he needed to do was by a few cop
Jun 19, 2013 Mike rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone

The Doomsday Book is an ambitious “soft” SF novel that borrows its title from the famous “Domesday Book” completed in 1086. Despite sharing names, the two works have only a little in common. The original was a survey of land and property holdings in England and Wales undertaken for William I (aka William the Conqueror) which was to set the basis for taxation. (Happily for historians it records details of life that would otherwise be lost to us.) The modern one is a novel and also a dictation wit
Mar 15, 2010 Charlotte rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Connie Willis' Doomsday Book might well be one of the best books I ever read, if not the best one, although it surely isn't an easy book leaving you unaffected.
Set in Willis' universe of the near future, in which a very plausible system of timetravelling is used by historians in order to research the past, the story develops in the there present and in 1348, the year the plague arrived in England.
Fast paced and very well researched, the Doomsday Book doesn't only shine through it's brilliant pl
Dec 29, 2011 Sophia rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sff, given-away, 2009
I'm erring on the side of charity and going with three stars for this 2.5 star book, because it was utterly gripping for the first 75 pages or so. Then nothing happened. Then the same nothing happened again. And *again*. By the time you get to the fourth or fifth scene where one of the protags is trying to call someone who may or may not be in Scotland but can't get through because the circuits are busy you want to scream (spoiler alert: we never actually find out where in Scotland that damn guy ...more
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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
More about Connie Willis...

Other Books in the Series

Oxford Time Travel (4 books)
  • To Say Nothing of the Dog (Oxford Time Travel, #2)
  • Blackout (All Clear, #1)
  • All Clear (All Clear, #2)

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“I wanted to come, and if I hadn’t, they would have been all alone, and nobody would have ever known how frightened and brave and irreplaceable they were.” 18 likes
“Kivrin reached out for Dunworthy's hand and clasped it tightly in her own. "I knew you'd come," she said, and the net opened.” 4 likes
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