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Fire Watch

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  2,688 ratings  ·  156 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 Nothin ...more
Paperback, 271 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 CardLove in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcí­a MárquezThe Cider House Rules by John IrvingPerfume by Patrick Süskind
Best Books of 1985
25th out of 134 books — 90 voters
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Where would SF be without these Authors part 3
59th out of 104 books — 19 voters


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Community Reviews

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Clouds
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
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Sarah
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
Ron
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.
Nikki
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
Stewart
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
Melanie
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
Karen
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
Jessica
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.
Julie
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.
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Debra
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
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Jordan Prewoznik
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
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


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.
G33z3r
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.
Steph
Jul 17, 2007 Steph rated it 3 of 5 stars
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
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Larry
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.
Richard
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
Siv30
"ארץ לא נודעת" – קובץ סיפורים, הוצאת כתר, 1997, 214 עמ

הקדמה - אחרי כל ההמלצות שרצו בפורום לגבי ספרים של קוני ויליס ובמיוחד לגבי "המשכוכית" האלמותי והבלתי ניתן להשגה, הייתי חיבת להשלים את הפער ולסגור חור בהשכלה. הזמנתי לי את "ספר יום הדין" ואת "ארץ לא נודעת".

אם מחיר הספר היה נקבע לפי משקלו (כמו לדוגמא ספרים מקצועיים שמזמינים מחו"ל), מחיר "ספר יום הדין" היה מרקיע שחקים....אז החלטתי להתחיל עם "ארץ לא נודעת".

הספר מורכב משלוש נובלות, שהראשונה היא "ארץ לא נודעת" ועל שמה הספר, השניה " משמרת אש" והשלישי
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Jennifer
I'd read two of these stories--"Fire Watch" and "A Letter from the Clearys"--in The Best of Connie Willis: Award-Winning Stories, so I was curious to check out Willis' other early short stories. While the plots occasionally feel a little flimsy, I was struck again and again by the way Willis uses language to give shape and texture to the worlds of the stories. The most overt example of this is in "All My Darling Daughters," where the slang used at a boarding school reveals so many (often disturb ...more
Corrisande
Firewatch - the first of Connie Willis' time-travel stories, is predecessor not only to to Willis' time-traveling universe in general, but also to Blackout/All Clear in particular, books that I suppose made it to my favourites among Willis' books, but also to my favourites of all times.
Reading Firewatch, I found it especially amusing to read all about Bartholomew, who is going to play a small but crucial role in Blackout, but also about Kivrin, heroine of Willis' Doomsdaybook. It's fun to see wh
...more
MajinFox
OPINIA Z 5 LIPCA 2009

Pierwsza kobieta zajmująca się sf, którą w ogóle kojarzę. Sam z tego typu książek lubię jedynie serię o Diunie, a cała reszta jest przeważnie infantylnymi opowiastkami. To co dziś przeczytałem to zbiór opowiadań jednego z najlepszych pisarzy sf, z jakimi miałem przyjemność się zetknąć. Jeśli dorzucimy do tego wojnę płci, to mężczyżni z tą panią przegrywają. Porusza dzisiejsze problemy, tylko w innym czasie. Nie bawi się w pokazywanie laserorubinów, filtrfraków i innych kosmi
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Roddy Williams
These stories cover a writing period of about five years in the early eighties and contain some of Willis’ best work. There are loose themes of women and religion running through the tales
Willis helpfully provides short introductions to each story, revealing where some of the ideas came from and her methods of working. In the main this is a first rate collection. I’ve always considered ‘The Sidon in the Mirror’ in particular to be one of the finest examples of short SF I have ever come across. T
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Samantha Glasser
I admit that I probably wouldn't have finished this if it weren't for the fact that I enjoyed Connie Willis' novels. Several of the stories here are utterly forgettable, and the few that were intriguing ended too quickly with no satisfaction of a finish. This felt like a compilation of ideas rather than a collection of finished thoughts.

In fact the first story, Fire Watch, was an idea that turned into a series of novels. It concerns a student at Oxford who is sent back to the London Blitz to stu
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Bryan Alexander
An excellent, rich collection. Willis is well known as an sf novelist, but she should be at least as widely appreciated as a short story writer, based on this book.

For me, one of ways I assess a short story collection is by its variety. Fire Watch impresses by its wide range of topic and tone. Willis turns from historical fiction to screwball comedy to religious parable to horror and far-future science fiction.

Willis also excels at economic language. These are not lyrical pieces, preferring to q
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Lora
I love short stories. This is one of those collections that exemplifies why I love them: there is a general theme of futurism/science fiction, but otherwise all of these tales are quite different. There are a couple set in the (more or less) here and now, but most are elsewhere/elsewhen.

There is a story about life on a mining planet, there is a time-travel story about going back to the London Blitz, there is a post-nuclear story, there's an absolutely hysterical story about a really stupid guy t
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Bananfish2
My favorite stories were A Letter from the Clearys and Daisy, In the Sun. Willis really knows how to describe families under stress, and how mothers and daughters and siblings interact during those periods. Also, she knows how to write human-aliens, which especially comes through in the story Fire Watch. The narrator is human, but he comes from a future where there are no colds or cats, and as such has no frame of reference in how to deal with those things. Really great read.
stephanieisabookworm
This collection of bizarre and fascinating short stories earned a four rather than a five because many of the stories were so very, viscerally disturbing. There was generally more horror and less humor than in the novels I've read by Willis, and some of the stories were too mysterious, in that I was wondering more about where and when the characters were than about what would happen next. My favorite stories in the collection were "Blued Moon," "Fire Watch," and "And Come from Miles Around."
Bob
My rating pertains only to the title story, "Fire Watch", the departure point for Connie Willis's series of novels featuring time-traveling Oxford historians of the future. For their practicum, the graduate students of the history department are sent back in time to observe and participate in crucial events: in this case, the heroic, yet mundane civil defense efforts by Londoners facing the German firebombing of St. Paul's Cathedral during WWII.

By turns imaginative, speculative, wry, and shockin
...more
Kelly
This is a great collection - the stories are varied in the texture, pacing, and subjects. They stick with you, which is usually a very good thing. But I wish I had known in advance to avoid "All Our Darling Daughters." It deals with the horrors of incest and sexual abuse. This may not be an issue that needs a trigger warning for you. If not for the way this story has haunted me, my rating would be higher.
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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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More about Connie Willis...
Doomsday Book (Oxford Time Travel, #1) To Say Nothing of the Dog (Oxford Time Travel, #2) Blackout (Oxford Time Travel, #3) All Clear (Oxford Time Travel, #4) Bellwether

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