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Fire Watch

3.87  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,077 Ratings  ·  192 Reviews
Winner of six Nebula and five Hugo awards, Connie Willis is one of the most acclaimed and imaginative authors of our time.Her startling and powerful works have redefined the boundaries of contemporary science fiction.Here in one volume are twelve of her greatest stories, including double award-winner "Fire Watch," set in the universe of Doomsday Book and To Say Nothing of ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published April 1998 by Bantam Spectra (first published 1984)
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The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret AtwoodEnder's Game by Orson Scott CardPerfume by Patrick SüskindLove in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcí­a MárquezThe Cider House Rules by John Irving
Best Books of 1985
26th out of 139 books — 100 voters
Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran FoerSlaughterhouse-Five by Kurt VonnegutTo Kill a Mockingbird by Harper LeeThe Handmaid's Tale by Margaret AtwoodThe Book Thief by Markus Zusak
My Summer 2015
91st out of 94 books — 8 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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The last story, Blued Moon is the star - very much in the same vein as To Say Nothing of the Dog (my favourite Willis novel). It's a sparkling celebration of coincidences and technical jargon. The kind of story that makes me want to shout, "Yes, Connie! Yes! Write more stories like this!"

As with all short story collections it's a mixed bag. Despite kicking off Willis' superb time-travel series (which I love), I was surprised that the title story, Fire Watch didn't do all that much for me.
All My
Nov 26, 2010 Sarah rated it really liked it
I decided to finally read this, the first of Connie Willis's books about a group of hapless time-traveling historians. I picked today because my library copy of her new book, All Clear, is very large and heavy and impractical to haul around New York on my back along with two dozen bagels, which is impractical enough on its own. I had expected that she might have given some background in this first novella that I had been missing ever since, but I should have known better. She tells us what we ne ...more
Jul 07, 2015 Ron rated it liked it
Good work. Not quite a four, but it was her first Oxford Time travel story and one of her first. A straight, clear, hit-you-in-the-solar-plexus kind of tale.

References to Kivrin's Doomsday Book adventures are especially interesting as the novella Fire Watch was written almost a decade before Doomsday Book.
I just read the title story, not the whole collection. I've been meaning to read Connie Willis' stuff for a long time, since several friends in one of my groups are very enthusiastic about her work. Fire Watch was easy and fun to read -- available online, here, by the way. You get thrown in at the deep end a bit at the beginning: it helped me to know that it was a story about a history student going back in time as part of their studies. But it was very readable, and reasonably easy to catch on ...more
Oct 20, 2015 Kogiopsis rated it liked it
After reading the titular novella of this book, I was sure it would be five stars all the way through... but, not surprisingly as this goes with the territory for short story collections, it was a variety of hits and misses. The first and last stories stand out: "Fire Watch" is a breathtakingly well-constructed narrative that withholds just the right amount of information, giving the reader glimpses at a future world through the protagonist's interactions with the past. Of all the stories in thi ...more
Apr 14, 2010 Stewart rated it really liked it
This is a 1998 reissue of a 1985 collection of short stories by Connie Willis who has won six Nebula and five Hugo awards for her sci-fi fiction. Her "Doomsday Book" of 1992 was one of the best science fiction novels I've ever read. There are a number of interesting stories among the 12 in the book, including the title story, a precursor to "Doomsday Book." "Blued Moon" is a humorous look at language and coincidence, and "A Letter from the Clearys" is a story that slowly transforms itself from ...more
Oct 02, 2015 Laura rated it really liked it
so like one night my partner-in-crime said this author would be the person he'd trade me in for and I was all offended UNTIL I READ THIS BOOK and now I'm all "Oh, I get it now."
Jan 07, 2008 Melanie rated it liked it
Connie Willis is brilliant. I have to say, I didn't really like the short story "Fire Watch," whose title became the title for the collection. It was okay, but I felt like you really had to read Doomsday Book beforehand to appreciate the way Kivrin kept coming up, and I dunno--it was just dark and dirty in a basement bomb-shelter kind of way, like the bottom of St. Paul's during the bombings kind of way, and long and drawn-out. Maybe Willis was doing that on purpose. However, I liked almost all ...more
Apr 24, 2011 Karen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was introduced to this author through a friend of mine and found that I enjoyed the universe so when I found out that "Fire Watch" was the first story ever written in this universe I thought I'd start off right and get to know the rest of the stories. I did not realize that "Fire Watch" was actually just a short story and that this book is a collection of short stories, of which "Fire Watch" was the only one set in the universe of time-traveling historians. The rest are an odd collection rangi ...more
Dec 06, 2014 Jessica rated it really liked it
Willis is an author that never ceases to delight me, but for reasons unknown I've yet to go on one of those tears where I devour everything she's written and then wait rather less than patiently for her to write some more. The upshot of this oversight is then getting to fall over gems like this collection, which is a fine example of what can happen with intriguing two-sentence premises in the capable hands of a gifted writer.
Feb 15, 2010 Julie rated it really liked it
Another collection of short stories by Connie Willis. Looks like the main story, "Fire Watch", takes place after Doomsday Book. And I suspect in the same world as another story of hers I read which I can't immediately recall. Anyway, time travel, the Blitz, saving a church. Themes that crop up in other stories of hers.

Oh yea, one other theme I forgot to mention in my review of another collection of hers: academic bureaucracy.

I don't think any of the stories in here particularly stood out for me.
How had I missed knowing about this book? I am most of the way through Fire Watch, the first story, and have put down my Kindle because I don't want my fictional world to end. (Well, the Blitz can end - let say not even start, but I want the Historians to stay around.) Why did it take so long to read this book? I read the stories around library books. The time involved is not a quality indicator.

What a wonderful and varied collection from this marvelous author. Fire Watch, the historian story, o
Jordan Prewoznik
Oct 21, 2014 Jordan Prewoznik rated it it was ok
A bit all of the place. There was one story that was very. very profoundly disturbing, but the other few were just 'meh' at best
Gevera Bert
Apr 17, 2015 Gevera Bert rated it really liked it
The weakest story in this was the time travel one, only because it did not use the same rules as the related novels.
David Knickmeyer
Sep 01, 2012 David Knickmeyer rated it liked it

I have enjoyed several of Connie Willis' novels and this collection of short stories had 'Blued Moon', a light hearted short I've always liked. Unfortunately, it and 'Fire Watch' are the only two stories I really enjoyed in this book. Several stories were disturbing, frankly. 'Blued Moon' is fun and 'Fire Watch' is also good, but for it you might be better off if you have read 'the Doomsday Book' and understand her time travel setting. A short story doesn't give much room to explain it.
Keeley Brooks
Aug 01, 2015 Keeley Brooks rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition

Oh wow. I really did not like this collection of stories. The title story was enjoyable - but the others ranged from disturbing to what felt like outright reader abuse. I feel betrayed - like I was lured in with a certain style of writing then the door was locked and barred behind me and I was beaten with the lead pipe of an entirely different kind of writing.

In the interests of full disclosure I must say I didn't read the last couple of stories in the book. Maybe it was redeemed by the
Short story collections are always hard to rate, because you like some stories more than others. Most stories were around a 3.5, so I've rounded down to 3. Here's my rating story by story:

Fire Watch (4/5): This story started off the Oxford Time Travel series, which is why picked up this book in the first place. A paperwork mistake sends a trainee historian back to St. Peter's during the Blitz instead of to the time of St. Peter. It was a nice addition to the three I've read, although it isn't ab
Apr 25, 2016 Christina rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
Ultimately, I'm not sure short stories and I get along. I seem to only enjoy the occasional one, and it needs to apparently have an "ah-ha!" ending, like The Lottery or The Landlady. Fire Watch, by Connie Willis, contains twelve short stories of a variety of genres and themes with no connection between them.

The stories within are:
"Fire Watch"
"Service for the Burial of the Dead"
"Lost and Found"
"All My Darling Daughters"
"The Father of the Bride"
"A Letter from the Clearys"
"The Sidon in the Mirror"
Connie Willis has a wonderful writing style, engrossing prose and a wonderful sense of detail and character. Whether she's writing science fiction or a ghost story, it's always the human element she explores.

"Fire Watch" is the most significant of the stories in this collection, mostly because it precedes the multi-award-winning "Oxford time travelers" novels (Doomsday Book, To Say Nothing of the Dog, Blackout and All Clear). Nonetheless, most of the other stories are almost as engrossing.
Jul 17, 2007 Steph rated it liked it
Recommends it for: teens and older
A collection of fantasy short stories by Connie Willis. One is set in the same world as 'To Say Nothing of the Dog' and 'Doomsday Book' but the rest are entirely different. Some I liked a lot (especially the last one), others less so, therefore I gave it only 3 stars.
Kathleen Dixon
I'm a latecomer to Connie Willis and am enjoying her enormously!

Despite frequently saying I'm not much of fan of short stories, science fiction has never in my mind been a part of that category. I guess I'm just an inveterate sci-fi fan, raised on the imaginative and way-out.

Each of the stories in this collection is quite distinct and with fully realised worlds ranging from a humorous tale set in our own world, another in our world with ghosts, a slightly speculative story about sentience, to a
Aug 01, 2011 Larry rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
To say the least, I was disappointed. I read the first short story in this collection, the title work, for its affinity with the Blackout series. It was OK. As I read further I became less and less pleased with the stories. A few were OK, a few were really terrible. I even skipped one. I didn't find this collection up to the author's standards.
Rob Trans
Jul 31, 2016 Rob Trans rated it it was ok
Fire Watch is a collection of 12 short stories. unfortunately the only one I would rate higher than a 2 was the last one and maybe the 7th. I found the prose circuitous, pedantic, and a bit tedious. The author takes awhile to get where she is going. Many of the ideas were good.

Below is a cryptic description of the 12 stories.
1. Time travel
2. Ghost story
3. Endtimes in a facist state
4. Abuse of women in a patriarchal society
5. After the end of sleeping beauty
6. Post nuclear apocalypse
7. How far
Jul 20, 2015 Ana rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015
Some of these stories were amazing, 5+ stars, and some were so-so. The ones I didn't like as much, like All My Darling Daughters, tended to have a very foreign world and slang that took some getting used to. Since these are short stories, by the time I had the world figured out, they were done and I couldn't appreciate the plot because I was getting used to the setting. Others, like Fire Watch and Blued Moon, were why I gave the whole book five stars. The stories really show off the author's abi ...more
Sep 19, 2011 Barbm1020 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful stories, always taut with suspense, Connie Willis's unique stamp all over them. This book still haunts my notion of World War II.
May 09, 2016 M rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I picked up this book to read the short story, Fire Watch. It was Willis' first foray into her Oxford Time Travelers' series. It was an interesting story about a 3-month time period during the London bombings in WWII. It introduced some of the characters from Willis' later book, The Doomsday Book. The remaining 11 stories in this collection were as varied as the subjects. They ranged from okay to downright disturbing. One dealt with attending one's own funeral and it was pretty good. Another was ...more
Mar 17, 2015 Richard rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This a book of short stories that really show off the author's creativity and writing talent. The first story "Fire Watch" is very clearly the seed that ultimately grew into the blockbuster two-book series "Blackout" and "All Clear." Also, elements of the last story in the book, "Blued Moon" can be found in many of Ms. Willis's works. I liked all of the stories, and this is probably the best book of short stories I have ever read. None of the stories are throwaways. This is a very entertaining r ...more
John Welsh
Aug 26, 2015 John Welsh rated it it was amazing
A sublime introductory collection of short SF from Connie Willis, who, in a distinguished career, never produced anything better than the best stories here. The standouts are the sad, thoughtful post-apocalypse of A Letter From The Clearys and the savage, revelatory sucker-punch of All My Darling Daughters (which could use a trigger warning; don't share it without thinking about it - really).
It's wonderful. SF in the 80s was on a roll, and this was the pick of the field. Things didn't work out s
Bob Rust
Apr 11, 2016 Bob Rust rated it it was amazing
Fire Watch • [Time Travel] • (1982) • novelette
Service for the Burial of the Dead • (1982) • shortstory
Lost and Found • (1982) • shortstory
All My Darling Daughters • novelette
The Father of the Bride • (1982) • shortstory
A Letter from the Clearys • (1982) • shortstory
And Come from Miles Around • (1979) • shortstory
The Sidon in the Mirror • (1983) • novelette
Daisy, in the Sun • (1979) • shortstory
Mail Order Clone • (1982) • shortstory
Samaritan • (1978) • novelette
Blued Moon • (1984) • no
Barbara Brien
Apr 16, 2016 Barbara Brien rated it liked it
I spoiled myself by going for the best of collection first. Most of the stories in this collection were not included in the best of collection, for good reason. Although they are decent stories, I did not enjoy them much. Several of these are very influenced by religion, many were products of the time they were written. On the whole, this is a good collection, but not up to the best of standard.

"Fire Watch" - I just finished listening to this in “The Best of Connie Willis,” so I will not review
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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
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