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Blackout (All Clear #1)

3.81 of 5 stars 3.81  ·  rating details  ·  10,939 ratings  ·  2,071 reviews
In her first novel since 2002, Nebula and Hugo award-winning author Connie Willis returns with a stunning, enormously entertaining novel of time travel, war, and the deeds—great and small—of ordinary people who shape history. In the hands of this acclaimed storyteller, the past and future collide—and the result is at once intriguing, elusive, and frightening.

Oxford in 2060...more
Hardcover, 512 pages
Published February 2nd 2010 by Spectra Books (first published January 1st 2010)
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The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey NiffeneggerOutlander by Diana GabaldonThe Time Machine by H.G. WellsTimeline by Michael CrichtonSlaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Best Time Travel Fiction
21st out of 968 books — 3,129 voters
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Can't Wait Books of 2010
102nd out of 1,185 books — 10,699 voters

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Community Reviews

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Warning: This review will be lengthy due to pure hatred.

Did I ever tell you that I’ve got a time machine? There was a freak accident where my laptop and my lawn mower got fused together following a lightning strike, and now I can use it to travel in time. It’s a long story. Anyhow, when I have a chance, I take the occasional trip through history. Recently, I popped into London in 1940 during the Blitz to take a look around. It’s a fascinating time with England hanging on by its fingernails durin...more
Feb 15, 2011 Elizabeth added it
Shelves: world-war-ii
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
UGH i dunno guys. I know it won the Hugo but I'm ok to have a differing opinion, right? I will definitely give credit, the book is IMPECCABLY researched. So much time and detail into WWII England, just...bravo for the research ALONE it deserved an award.

But I mean, bar none, this book does NOT feel like a stand-alone. From my investigations the publisher split the plot in two, and it's so clunky with the ending it shows. The book could TOTALLY have stood an edit pass that took out tomes of unnec...more
Lisa Vegan
Dec 16, 2010 Lisa Vegan rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who enjoys historical fiction or speculative fiction & time travel books
A warning: This book has no proper ending. It was meant to be the first half of a book but the publisher divided it into two books and Blackout is the first half. All Clear is the second book/second half of the book. Definitely have All Clear on hand to read immediately after this book. I finished this book and started the next the same day and that’s the way to do it. I deliberately read this slowly so there wouldn’t be a gap before I could read the next book.

I was completely enthralled! This b...more
Ben Babcock
Time travel is a sexy science-fiction trope. It's right up there with faster-than-light travel (the two are, in fact, inextricably related, and chances are you if you invent one then you'll have invented both) as something that, as far as our current understanding of the universe works, is impossible. There are some fascinating loopholes involving wormholes and general relativity, but in order to get it working you need metric shit-joules of energy and something called exotic matter, and it woul...more
I love Willis' novels, with time-travelling anthropologists getting into all kinds of mischief in their historical setting, complicated by love and feelings of responsibility, I'd have given it 5 stars if she hadn't forced me to wait six months for the second half of the story...

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
Sometimes, if it takes you 10 years to write a book, you just shouldn't. Willis has a writing tick that absolutely annoys me, but in the past, I've been able to mainly ignore it because the storylines have been good. But her annoying writing tick overwhelms any story that was to be had in this book. The tick I'm speaking of is her tendency to talk about every mundane humdrum thing and to catch up every personality-less character that walks in the room concerning these mundane humdrum things. In...more
More in the line of Doomsday Book. History students from 2060 Oxford pursue their studies through time travel, this time to the blitz.

I would be so bad at time travel. Willis has this incredibly busy, fussy, flustered style, all run to the lab! three overlapping conversations! run to the library! get a form signed! Time travel! Bombs falling! Missing lipstick! It can be very funny in places, and incredibly evocative of Oxford academia in particular (I should know, though for fuck’s sake, we had...more
October update: Bump from 4 to 5 stars, when read along with the next book, All Clear.

Typically good writing from Connie Willis, and a riveting story - or half of a riveting story, at least. This is the first half of a long novel, and seems chopped off rather than deliberately crafted to be the first volume of a duology. I look forward to the next book, and I almost wish I had waited to read this one until it was available.

The rushed and disorganized Oxford historians of the future with their t...more
Nov 14, 2010 Jon rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Jon by: Jamie
Fifty years in our future, time-traveling Oxford historians studying key moments early in the Second World War become stranded in time in various locales around England. Like the contemporaries they are assigned to observe, the historians increasingly feel the weight of impending doom.

Doubt seeps into their belief that the continuum, the embodiment of a chaotic system, prevents damage or alteration to the time line; a self-correcting system. The butterfly effect, more aptly referenced with the...more
Tim Hicks
I have a very short list of authors whose work I eagerly await. Connie Willis just stepped off that list with this turkey. This book cuts off abruptly with a promo for the second book, but if it had been decently edited the whole mess would have fit in one volume.

Three incompetent characters are dropped into WW2 London by obviously incompetent staffers. Before they even left I was thinking that I wouldn't let these dingbats put me on a bus, much less a time machine.

These folks are supposed to...more
The hype of Connie Willis Blackout fell short. The story sets place in Oxford 2060 and World War II England. This was my first Willis novel and perhaps some of my complaints are due to my lack of knowledge in her description of time travel. I am not clear as to why Dumbledore Mr Dunworthy is frantically sending his 20something historians out to observe WWII England in such a chaotic and disorganized fashion. Their assignments durations and details tend to change abruptly and for no clear cut rea...more
My favorite category of time travel fiction sends cautious but dauntlessly curious academic types into the past to research history and Blackout, set during the Blitz of London, stands out in this group because it also includes plenty of humor, lots of period details about ordinary lives, and a large cast of intriguing characters all having different experiences. I loved the story and highly recommend it, but there were a few things that marred its perfection for me.

It’s a long book, over 500 p...more
These books stress me out so badly. Everyone is forever running around interrupting each other & talking over one another & no one knows what the hell is going on & no one knows where Mr. Dunworthy is - ever - goddammit, & then they head back in time anyway & of course everything is all f'ed up. B swears that All Clear is really good & I adore reading about the Blitz, but I swear, if there's anymore standing around in a department stores chatting about what we've all been...more
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Sherwood Smith
Nov 12, 2010 Sherwood Smith added it
Shelves: sf
I waited a full year to read this, after having heard that it ends on an abrupt cliff hanger. I finished it last night, and tonight will begin the next.

The surface plot is a difficult one, or challenging: basically, a number of people running around trying to find one another, or to get to their drop. Three of them are caught in England in 1940, as the Blitz and the V rocket bombings began. The driving mechanism is appearing slowly, only acknowledged at the very end of this one (this isn't a spo...more
I'm already planning to put this on the "hours I will never get back" shelf. Crazy thing is that I will finish it and probably listen to the second book, because it only costs one Audible credit and it's better than a punch in the throat for the 2 hours each day I commute. Were this not set in a historical time and place of which I cannot get enough, I'd have canned it long ago. The main characters are whining douches from the future. The "contemps" as they call the Londoners of 1940 are resolut...more
Lori (Hellian)
I'm torn between a 3 and a 4. I enjoyed reading this so much, yet I found myself getting annoyed with repetition, and the main characters are not as fully differentiated as in other Willis books. I also got confused about one thing that came up at the end - did we know this happened or are we just finding out about it now? Also, the ending was so frustrating, as it just stops, waiting for the concluding volume, All Clear, due out next fall. Well, I think it will all come together then and I can'...more
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Let me start you out with a warning that I wish I had gotten before I started reading Connie Willis's latest: Blackout is half a novel. Not part one of a two-parter; literally the first half of a novel whose concluding half, All Clear, will not be available until mid-October 2010. So if you're one of those crazy readers who actually likes an ending for your novels, you might want to wait until All Clear is released and buy them both together. T...more
Carol. [All cynic, all the time]
Oh, I'm such a liar. This wasn't three stars, it was two. While I love some of Connie's other works, this one doesn't work for me. Logically inept, grossly meandering and strongly in need of some editing. While I liked pieces of the storyline, as a whole it lacked enough coherence to be enjoyable.
This book is not without value. I appreciated the close-up and personal account of ordinary Brits living through the Blitz. But it had several problems. First, the book is simply too long. There is simply no reason it needed two volumes and nearly a thousand pages to tell such a simple story. There is a similarity to so many of the episodes and events, that it begins to feel repetitious and thus tedious. The characters, who are supposed to be trained historians and time-travelers, consistently m...more
Dec 22, 2011 Rae rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: sci-fi fans, time travel buffs, historical fiction fans, WWII enthusiasts
OMG TIME TRAVELING HISTORIANS!!!! *flails hands around in excitement*

So, above you can see my first impression of this book, and it didn't disappoint. Yes, I am obsessed with time travel, and yes, I love learning about World War II. Blackout was positively fantastic.

A while ago, one of my friends told me that I was going to have to go through sci-fi detox due to the massive amounts of it that I was absorbing. When I asked what that would consist of, she simply replied "a lot of historical ficti...more
I know Connie Willis has been working on this book and its upcoming sequel, All Clear, for a long time. She comes to our local science fiction convention, and she used to complain about how this story was the most complex muti-character story she'd ever attempted, and it was kicking her butt.

Now that I have finally read it, I have to say that Connie might do better to keep her characters and plots simpler. This story works well from a plot standpoint, but I really find the characters lacking in...more
FINALLY. I've been waiting for this since Glasgow Worldcon in 2005! And the novellas did nothing whatsoever to sooth the impatience.

Okay - that 5 star rating isn't an entirely objective one, but it's indicative of how much I loved it despite the fact that it's not really a book, but half a book, and the fact that I can clearly see the repetition of plot lines like historians finding themselves at a slightly different time on going through the drop and struggling to find out the date and how to g...more
It isn't until I pick up a Connie Willis book that I remember how enjoyable they are. There's something so comfortable about her prose. I found this book hard to put down. That said, this is really only half a book. It ends abruptly with a "to be continued". I know the second half will be available in the fall, and I knew that she had split one large book in two, but I didn't expect there to be this little resolution. Oh, well. Where is that time travel when you need it? I'd like to start the se...more
491 pages! 491 pages and no conclusion! Auch. Defitely not fair. This lack of even a minimum amount of conclusion is why I gave Blackout 4 stars instead of 5, as I was really frustrated at the end.
But apart from that Blackout is really worth reading. The characters are well developed, and their reactions to the situations they are put in are very credible. The time travel premise and its problems works really well, and one really gets into the converging stories. Moreover, I'm not an avid reade...more
I started out loving this book -- all of the details about WWII, the London Blitz, the evacuation at Dunkirk. But at a certain point, I wanted things to really take a darker, more terrifying turn. I wanted to start seeing some very real evidence that history had, in fact, been changed. And I wanted the characters to STOP whining about finding their drop. Mike should've been doing everything possible to AVOID his drop until he could figure out how the tide of the war had changed and whether he wa...more
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topics  posts  views  last activity   
Blackout: Dry? Too mundane? 13 114 Aug 07, 2013 10:19AM  
Worcester Public ...: Crossover Appeal 1 4 Apr 30, 2013 03:25PM  
SciFi and Fantasy...: Favorite Characters **Marked Spoilers** 12 144 Apr 26, 2012 11:46PM  
SciFi and Fantasy...: A dash of History with your Blackout Tea? 17 63 Apr 17, 2012 06:07PM  
SciFi and Fantasy...: Willis's Oxford Time Travel Guide 3 59 Apr 08, 2012 10:41PM  
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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
More about Connie Willis...
Doomsday Book (Oxford Time Travel, #1) To Say Nothing of the Dog (Oxford Time Travel, #2) All Clear Bellwether Passage

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“I’m not studying the heroes who lead navies—and armies—and win wars. I’m studying ordinary people who you wouldn’t expect to be heroic, but who, when there’s a crisis, show extraordinary bravery and self-sacrifice. Like Jenna Geidel, who gave her life vaccinating people during the Pandemic. And the fishermen and retired boat owners and weekend sailors who rescued the British Army from Dunkirk. And Wells Crowther, the twenty-four-year-old equities trader who worked in the World Trade Center. When it was hit by terrorists, he could have gotten out, but instead he went back and saved ten people, and died. I’m going to observe six different sets of heroes in six different situations to try to determine what qualities they have in common.” 14 likes
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