Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Fire Watch” as Want to Read:
Fire Watch
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Fire Watch

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  2,434 ratings  ·  139 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)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Fire Watch, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Fire Watch

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret AtwoodEnder's Game by Orson Scott CardThe Cider House Rules by John IrvingLove in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcí­a MárquezPerfume by Patrick Süskind
Best Books of 1985
24th out of 128 books — 84 voters
Death on Zanath by Lee GimenezAnne McCaffrey's Dragonflight #1 by Brynne StephensThe Ship Who Sang by Anne McCaffreyFlashforward by Robert J. SawyerAll Clear by Connie Willis
Where would SF be without these Authors part 3
46th out of 102 books — 18 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
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
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
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
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
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
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....more
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...more
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.
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 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.
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.
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

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...more
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...more
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...more
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...more
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."
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
This collection isn't for kids. it has a particularly dark nature to it. In one story, a peculiar alien, a mirror, is forced to imitate and become whom he imitates while forming a fixation on a singer in the whore house he plays piano for. In another, several of the characters from The Doomsday Book reconfigure to create a particularly unsatisfying but gripping story of the near future and near past connected by the net. This story predates The Doomsday Book and is the largest work in the book....more
Better than average SF; as with any anthology, there are hits and misses,but none of the the stories entirely disappoint, and "All My Darling Daughters" manages to both titillate and terrify...a story that really left me morally and emotionally freaked out at the end. Props! "Mail Order Clone" was also worthwhile, as amusing and light as "Daughters" was disturbing. In the title story, Willis reprises (or prefigures?) her obsession with the London blitz that we saw in TO SAY NOTHING OF THE DOG. I...more
Willis has won 10 Hugos and 6 Nebula awards for her fiction. "Firewatch" is a collection of twelve stories including "Firewatch," a novelette that won both the Hugo and Nebula Award in 1983. Also very worthy of a read is "Letter From the Clearys," which won the Nebula for best short story in 1983. The stories cover a wide range of social and psychological issues. Willis is a master of time travel tales featuring history students from a future Oxford University sent to unfamiliar times with less...more
I started reading this book, which turned out to be a collection of short stories. Having read 3 of the author's Oxford Time Travel series of books, I was eager to delve into the title story. It was a very good story and enhanced my enjoyment of the series.

I will be kind and say that none of the rest of the stories in "FireWatch" appealed to me. I soldiered on and wish I had not. Those sorts of short stories are just not my thing. I give the title story a 4 and the others a 1. I had to wait a lo...more
Oh my god, I love this story to death. It's - I dunno, it feels quiet and Bartholemew is shattering apart slightly at the seams and- and- I love how he gets the LITTLE things wrong and how he and Langby suspect each other and. And. FOR THE RECORD I consider this by thebaconfat to be PART OF CANON. It's a BRILLIANT companion to it, please all read it! It adds so much to some of the scenes! (AVAILABLE ONLINE HERE.)

(Reaction shot originally posted here: )
I read somewhere once that the other side of empathy is sadism. That came to mind here. I've read a great deal of Connie Willis over the years, and usually one notices how fundamentally kind she is, as a writer - in her characters, in the way she appears to observe the world, in the sorts of stories she choose to tell. But theres a few here that seem to take those exact same qualities and with only a very little shift create stories that are almost vicious in their examination of being in pain -...more
Katrina Koehler
This was an odd compilation of short stories. My favourites were "Firewatch" and the last one (I don't remember the name of that one). They were interesting and had characters I could root for. The others were ok. I'm not generally a fan of short stories because they lack closure, but this was pretty good. Nice one, Willis!
I've only read the short story of the title, which is the first story in the "Time-Traveling Oxford Historians" series, and I can already see this is going to be a darn good series of stories. The author jumps right into the action with very little back story, but this allows the reader to understand the confusion of the main character. He is also unclear as to what exactly he is supposed to be doing during his "practicum" for history class: a three-month stay at St. Paul's cathedral during the...more
Mem Morman
I read this as a start to the Oxford Time Travel series, and found that it wasn't a novel but a set of long short stories. "Fire Watch" was probably the best, and some of the others were quite disturbing. I'm not sure, even after a careful reading, exactly who was who in Fire Watch. I have a disturbing feeling that I should have recognized more of the characters from other of Willis' stories. Was the Commie firefighter really the Oxford professor from the future doing his own "history" thesis as...more

i strongly recommend the dramatised audio version by Seeing Ear Theatre here:
EJ Johnson
May 13, 2008 EJ Johnson rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: nobody
After enjoying Doomsday Book and To Say Nothing of the Dog, I was really disappointed in this book by the same author. It turned out to be shortstories which are my least favorite type of literature. But why I was so disappointed is because Ms. Willis chooses to use foul language as well as sexual situations too often. Most of these stories have been published in Sci-fi magazines starting back in the 70s. I am happy her books weren't like her stories. I didn't read the whole book and I don't rec...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Black Projects, White Knights: The Company Dossiers (The Company, #4.5)
  • Star Songs of an Old Primate
  • The Empire of Ice Cream
  • The Fall: Tales from the Apocalypse
  • The Barbie Murders
  • The Man Who Bridged the Mist
  • The Mammoth Book of Extreme Science Fiction
  • Mothers & Other Monsters: Stories
  • What I Didn't See: Stories
  • Bible Stories for Adults
  • About Time: 12 Short Stories
  • Edge of Infinity
  • Unicorn Variations
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
More about Connie Willis...
Doomsday Book (Oxford Time Travel, #1) To Say Nothing of the Dog (Oxford Time Travel, #2) Blackout All Clear Bellwether

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »