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Blackout (All Clear #1)

3.82  ·  Rating Details  ·  14,693 Ratings  ·  2,491 Reviews
Oxford in 2060 is a chaotic place, with scores of time-traveling historians being sent into the past. Michael Davies is prepping to go to Pearl Harbor. Merope Ward is coping with a bunch of bratty 1940 evacuees and trying to talk her thesis adviser into letting her go to VE-Day. Polly Churchill’s next assignment will be as a shopgirl in the middle of London’s Blitz. But no ...more
Paperback, 610 pages
Published February 11th 2010 by Spectra Books (first published January 1st 2010)
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Janna Odenthal Amazing way to give a feel for what it might have felt like to be in WWII London! Can't wait to read the author's books about Napolean, Lincoln, and…moreAmazing way to give a feel for what it might have felt like to be in WWII London! Can't wait to read the author's books about Napolean, Lincoln, and others!(less)
The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey NiffeneggerOutlander by Diana GabaldonThe Time Machine by H.G. Wells11/22/63 by Stephen KingTimeline by Michael Crichton
Best Time Travel Fiction
21st out of 1,216 books — 3,946 voters
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Best Science Fiction of the 21st Century
56th out of 512 books — 5,495 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
Sep 19, 2011 Felicia rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
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
Apr 27, 2011 Amy rated it did not like it
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
Althea Ann
Mar 18, 2016 Althea Ann rated it really liked it
Blackout/All Clear.

The two books are really one novel (thanks, publishers, for getting me to pay double!) so there's no reason to talk about them separately.

They're also part of Willis' time travel series, although they're not advertised as such. I really wouldn't recommend starting with these books; I feel that a lot of the questions and criticism of these books that I see in other reviews stems from the likelihood that readers haven't read the other books in the series: The Doomsday Book, To S
Feb 15, 2011 Elizabeth added it
Shelves: world-war-ii
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Blithering idiots.
Read rage.
That is all.
Lisa Vegan
Dec 16, 2010 Lisa Vegan rated it it was amazing
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
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

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
Dec 02, 2010 Laurie rated it really liked it
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...
Stephanie Swint
Nov 15, 2014 Stephanie Swint rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
Connie Willis created a beautiful piece of time travel/historical fiction with 'Blackout.' Depending on how you want to look at this book it is either the first book in the All Clear series or the third installment of the Oxford Time Travel series. 'Blackout' includes characters from 'The Doomsday Book' with Colin Templar and Mr. Dunworthy. They are not the stars of this double-decker novel but they do play very important roles. 'Blackout' revolves around three historians from the future sent to ...more
Jul 04, 2015 Chrissie rated it did not like it
Recommended to Chrissie by: Lisa Vegan
After 1 hour and forty minutes of the audiobook:

I am a person stuck firmly in reality. I knew when I started this that it was a time-travel book. I figured I could ignore this aspect, but this is proving much harder than I expected. I am having huge problems. All this about slipping into drop sites, about language implants, divergent points and slippage. It is hard to ignore SO much detail. I feel like I have been dropped into a movie, with people dashing around right and left. The setting is s
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
Jamie Collins
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
Tim Hicks
Jul 03, 2010 Tim Hicks rated it it was ok
Shelves: science-fiction
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
Nov 02, 2010 Wyndie rated it did not like it
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
I know I said I was going to try Connie Willis’ work again. I know I was even going to try To Say Nothing Of the Dog. And I know that I did quite like Doomsday Book, and definitely liked some of her short stories. But I just keep bouncing off, and okay, maybe it’s a case of “it’s not you, it’s me”, but that doesn’t mean I need to keep hitting my head against it, right?

See, the historical content is interesting. If you accept the fact that communication is difficult because her future Oxford has
Nov 14, 2010 Jon rated it really liked it
Recommended to Jon by: Jamie Collins
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
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.
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
Joe Valdez
Dec 18, 2014 Joe Valdez rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
Colin is upset. It's 2060 and the lad skips class to search the Oxford campus desperately for Mr. Dunsworthy. The porter, Mr. Purdy, tells Colin that the professor is in research. The professor's secretary Eddritch is much more closed lipped, but when Colin tries the lab, the director Badri and the tech Linna are far too busy sending researchers through time.

At least, they're supposed to be doing this. Schedules are being reshuffled at the last minute, you see. Michael has trained to be sent ba
Dec 22, 2014 Rebecca rated it did not like it
These characters are so stupid.

So let's get this straight. These are supposed to be time-traveling historians. From Oxford, no less. And at least one out of the three main characters is supposed to be a "seasoned" time traveler. And yet, as I was reading this, I was baffled time and again by their utter lack of knowledge on the time period to which they were traveling. Wouldn't you do some research first? And by some, I mean months and months. And months. And you're supposed to be a HISTORIA
May 13, 2011 Ron rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Nov 19, 2014 Melissa rated it liked it
Shelves: ladies-writin
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
Sep 12, 2014 Jaylia3 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 26, 2010 Lori rated it really liked it
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
Mar 26, 2010 Peggy rated it really liked it
This review originally appeared on

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
Dec 04, 2010 Holly rated it liked it
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
Feb 20, 2011 Ben rated it did not like it
Shelves: science-fiction
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
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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

All Clear (2 books)
  • All Clear (All Clear, #2)

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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.” 16 likes
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