Kemper's Reviews > Blackout

Blackout by Connie Willis
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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 during nightly bombings and waiting for a German invasion that seemed certain.

I was getting ready to return to 2010, and started firing up the time-mower when suddenly three people, two women and a man, ran up excitedly and started wildly shouting questions at me.

“Are you from the retrieval team?”

“Where is your drop?”

“What took you so long?”

After a few minutes they finally calmed down enough to introduce themselves. They were Polly, Eileen and Mike. They saw me with the time-mower and figured out I was from the future. They demanded to know from when.

“My name’s Kemper. I’m from 2010,” I told them.

“Oh, no,” Polly wailed. “You’re not from Oxford?”

“Uh, no. I’m from Kansas,” I replied.

“So you’re not a historian from 2060 like us?” Mike demanded.

“Nope. You guys are from 2060? That’s incredible, what’s it like?” I asked.

“Well, it used to be grand. We got assignments to go back and observe points in history by going undercover to live and work during these times,” Eileen said.

“That sounds like it would be a really exciting adventure,” I said.

“No, it’s awful,” Eileen said. “You see, something terrible has happened. We each had different assignments. I was working with evacuated children in the country, Mike was supposed to observe the ships returning from the rescue of the British army at Dunkirk, and Polly was going to work as a shop girl at one of the department stores.”

“What happened?”

“Well, first, my assignment was terrible. The English lady I worked for made us do all this extra war work while she wouldn’t lift a finger, and I had to deal with all these children. There was this brother and sister, Alf and Binnie, that were always getting into mischief and causing me problems. Then there was measles outbreak so I was quarantined for months with the kids so I was long overdue. When the quarantine finally lifted, my drop wasn’t working. You see, the drops are the spots where we can go back to Oxford in 2060,” Eileen said.

“Yes, and my drop isn’t work either. I got a job at a department store, just as planned, but when I tried to check in, it isn’t working,” Polly said.

“Is your drop not working?” I asked Mike.

“We’re not sure. See, I was supposed to arrive in Dover, but there was slippage. That’s when we don’t arrive exactly when and where we were supposed to. So I ended up 30 miles away in this little village and three days late. A lot of stuff happened after I met Commodore Harold, and it was months before I got back to my drop, and now there are always people around it. They won’t open if anyone from this time frame can see it,” Mike said.

“Who is Commodore Harold?”

“He was this old man at the village. I was trying to get him to take me in his boat to Dover because I had already missed part of the evacuation. But he wouldn’t listen to me and kept insisting that he was going to Dunkirk. Then I fell asleep on his boat, and he took me there. Which was terrible because I probably changed history and now we’ll lose the war,” Mike said. Tears came out of the corners of his eyes.

“We can’t change history,” Polly said.

“Yes, we can. I did,” Mike cried.

“You don’t know that,” Eileen said.

“Yes, I do. It’s all my fault,” he said and sobbed harder.

“Well, if you think you had it bad, I had a terrible time getting a black skirt,” Polly said.

“A black skirt?” I asked in confusion.

“Yes, shop girls must wear a black skirt and everything was confused at Oxford when we were leaving because of schedule changes so wardrobe could only get me a dark blue one. I got the job but the woman in charge would fire me if I didn’t get a black skirt. And I kept trying to get back to the drop so I could go back to Oxford and get one, but I kept getting delayed. When I finally got there, the drop wasn’t working. Plus, I couldn’t wrap the packages properly so I had to spend ever so much time practicing it,” Polly said. Her lip quivered slightly as she remembered the horror of wrapping packages.

“Uh, didn’t they give you any money when you came to the past?” I asked.

“Oh, yes. Tons of it,” Polly said.

“And you were working in a department store?” I said.

“Yes.”

“So why didn’t you just buy a black skirt there instead of spending all that effort trying to time travel to go home and get one?” I said. Polly only looked at me blankly.

“I had problems, too. I tried and tried to get out of the quarantine and sneak back to the drop, but Mr. Samuels locked the doors,” Eileen said.

“Who is Mr. Samuels? A cop or doctor?” I asked.

“No, just the old gardener at the estate,” she said.

“I had a lot of bother getting a newspaper,” Mike volunteered.

“A newspaper?” I asked.

“Yes, I had to spend some time in a hospital, and I wanted to see the war news to see what I had changed. But the nurses thought it was making me too upset. So I had to pretend that I wanted to do the crosswords so they’d leave me the paper,” Mike said proudly.

“OK, forget about the skirt, and the quarantine and the newspaper. Don’t you people have some kind of back-up plan if something went wrong and you couldn’t get to your drops?” I asked.

“Yes, the retrieval teams!” they shouted in unison.

“I was sure that you were with the retrieval team,” Polly said.

“I’ve spent so many hours wondering what was keeping my retrieval team,” Eileen said.

“I’m sure that my retrieval team hasn’t been able to locate me,” Mike said.

“Where, oh where, could our retrieval teams be?” Polly said.

“I thought Mike and Polly were my retrieval team when they found me,” Eileen said.

“And I thought Mike was my retrieval team,” Polly said.

“I know that you two are women and all that, but the next person to say ‘retrieval team’ is getting punched in the throat,” I said. “OK, so those retre…. Er, people were supposed to come and get you if something went wrong, but they haven’t shown. So what was your Plan B?”

“Plan B?” Eileen said.

“Yeah, for if something really went wrong and they couldn’t find you or whatever? Didn’t you have a pre-determined spot to meet out some time later? Or since all you people were running around this time, did they set up some kind of safe-house you could go to in case of emergency?”

“That’s a good idea,” Polly said.

“We’ll have to tell Mr. Dunworthy that we should do that after the retrieval team… OW!… takes us back,” Mike said.

“So no plan other than just sitting around fretting and speculating about what happened? Since you’re worried that they can’t find you, have you put an ad in the paper or anything?” I asked

“Oh, I checked the personals to see if the retrieval team..OW!..placed an ad trying to find us. I thought about putting an ad in so that they could find me, but haven’t done it yet,” Mike said proudly.

“Uh.. You guys do research in the future before you go into the past, right?”

“Of course.” Polly said.

“That would include reading newspapers?”

“Yes, we get a lot of information from newspapers,” Eileen said.

“And it’s never occurred to any of you that if you put a message in that says something like, ‘Hey, Oxford 2060, come pick me up at noon outside Buckingham Palace on Oct. 1?’ that they might see it and meet you there then?” I asked.

“That’s another good idea,” Eileen said. “You’ve got a knack for this, Kemper.”

“Are you kidding me? You’re goddamn time travelers, and you never thought of doing that? Or leaving a letter with a lawyer for delivery to Oxford in 2060? Haven’t you ever seen the Back to the Future movies? Or that episode of Quantum Leap where Sam and Al switched places?” I said.

“Well, I’m not sure that it’s a matter of Oxford not being able to find us. I think something went wrong and that they can’t come back for some reason,” Polly said.

“It’s my fault!” Mike shrieked.

“Oh, do shut up,” Polly snapped. “Even before we left, something was going on. Mr. Dunworthy was changing assignments like mad, and they were having a terrible time finding drop sites. And they were very worried about us reporting any slippage.”

“That’s true,” Mike said. “Mr. Dunworthy changed my assignment from Pearl Harbor to Dunkirk so I had almost no time to prepare. And Polly couldn’t get the right clothes, and Eileen had a hard time getting the driving lessons she needed.”

“So this Mr. Dunworthy is a douche bag that sends you guys into the past with no preparation?” I said.

“Oh, no! He cares about us ever so much. He sets very strict rules about where we can live and work in the past, and if there’s so much of a hint of danger, he’ll pull us right off an assignment. He’d send a retrieval team …OW!…in a second if he knew we were in trouble,” Eileen said confidently.

I sighed and rubbed my temples for a couple of minutes. Then I took a deep breath.

“Let me see, I’ve got this straight. You’re all historians from 2060 at Oxford who work for a guy named Dunworthy who is supposedly very strict about your safety. Yet, he did a last minute change of schedule with no explanation that left people going to England in 1940 unprepared and ill-equipped for the assignment. You were stupid enough to come anyhow, and you’re all seemingly incapable of dealing with anything as mundane as unruly children or overbearing people. Plus, the simplest task like obtaining a black skirt or a newspaper turns into a major undertaking for you. Even outwitting a senile boat captain or a gardner was beyond your abilities. Now something has gone wrong, and your only plan is to sit around whining about your ‘retrieval teams’. Is that about it?” I said.

“Yes, that’s about the size of it,” Mike said.

“Please, Kemper. We really need your help,” Polly said.

“Well, you all may be morons, but it’s your lucky day because a guy with a time-mower showed up. I guess I can’t leave you here,” I said.

“That’s wonderful! So you’ll take a message to Oxford?” Eileen said.

“A message?” I asked.

“Yes. We’ll write a message to Mr. Dunworthy and you can take it to him. Then he’ll send a retrieval team…OW!…back for us,” Polly said.

They just kept grinning and smiling at me as I looked at them in disbelief.

“Guy with a working time machine standing right here,” I said slowly.

They nodded.

“And all you want me to do is to take a message to the future for you?”

They nodded.

“Not, you know, just take you to Oxford in 2060?”

“Oh, no,” Mike said. “What if we left and the retrieval team…OW!…shows up?”

“Changed my mind. Not doing shit for you. Sit here and wait. Hopefully, the Germans will drop a bomb on your stupid, wussy, worthless, whining asses. See ya in hell,” I said as I fired up the time-mower and started to fade away.

The last thing I heard before leaving 1940 was, “When do you think the retrieval team will arrive?”

In Summary of a Shitty Book

I have never been subjected to such painful characters in my life. All three of the major players are exactly the same. Almost the entire book is their inner dialogues which consist solely of fretting about stupid trivial crap, wild speculation that turns out to be completely wrong and repeatedly asking, “Oh, when will the retrieval team arrive?”

You’d think that time travelers should be hardy adventurers with the ability to improvise and adapt to problems. These dumbasses can’t complete the simplest of tasks without it becoming a story of epic proportions. Seriously, the first chapter of this book is a guy trying to find Dunworthy at Oxford and having all these internal discussions with himself about where he might be, where he should look for him, what his secretary will say, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, someone please shoot me. The rest of the book consists of characters doing pretty much the same thing.

Even worse, this is the first of two books so even after reading all this drivel, you don’t get any resolution to the story.

When I’m on my deathbed, I’ll be cursing the name of Connie Willis for writing this piece of shit and tricking me into wasting precious hours of my life.
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Comments (showing 1-50 of 279) (279 new)


message 1: by Dan (new)

Dan Schwent Nice references to Back to the Future and Quantum Leap.


message 2: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie I thank you ever so much Kemper for reading that book so that I would not have to, and for writing such an entertaining review.

By the way.....have you seen my retreival team?


message 3: by Nancy (new) - added it

Nancy Love this review!

Now I'm scared to read Doomsday Book which has been on my shelf for months.


Kemper Dan wrote: "Nice references to Back to the Future and Quantum Leap."

I did love me some Quantum Leap. Everytime I see Scott Bakula in anything to this day, I always think, "Theorizing that one could time travel within his own lifetime, Dr. Sam Beckett stepped into the Quantum Leap accelerator and vanished."


Kemper Stephanie wrote: "I thank you ever so much Kemper for reading that book so that I would not have to, and for writing such an entertaining review.

By the way.....have you seen my retreival team?"


Thanks. There won't be any retreival team because those asshats get too vapor locked by the simplest decision to actually rescue anyone.


Kemper Nancy wrote: "Love this review!

Now I'm scared to read Doomsday Book which has been on my shelf for months."


Part of the reason I read this was becaus of all the awards for Doomsday Book, and I guess this book is supposed to be linked to that story. If you read Doomsday Book ad any character starts having endless inner dialogues regarding the most goddamn common place things, I would advise you to burn it immediately.


message 7: by James (new)

James Thane An excellent review of what sounds like a really crappy book. I'm really glad you read it, though, so that I could laugh so hard reading your comments about it!


Kemper James wrote: "An excellent review of what sounds like a really crappy book. I'm really glad you read it, though, so that I could laugh so hard reading your comments about it!"

Thanks. The only thing that gave me the willpower to finish it was thinking of how much fun I'd have trashing it on Goodreads afterwards...


message 9: by Mariel (new)

Mariel Oh dear. Her Doomsday was half good book and half wanted to skip. This sounds like the latter...


Kemper Mariel wrote: "Oh dear. Her Doomsday was half good book and half wanted to skip. This sounds like the latter..."

Good concept. Horrible execution.


message 11: by Bikeshopgirl (new)

Bikeshopgirl Excellent review, Kemper.

Inside this two-headed monster is a good book trying to get out. Willis must have reached that level of success where no-one in her personal circle gives her honest feedback; and her publisher is just milking her for all she's worth, not providing her with a real editor. These two books are off to the secondhand shop...


Kemper Bikeshopgirl wrote: "Excellent review, Kemper.

Inside this two-headed monster is a good book trying to get out. Willis must have reached that level of success where no-one in her personal circle gives her honest feedb..."


Thanks. I'm not going within a mile of the second one. I assume it's as bad as the first one?


message 13: by Bikeshopgirl (new)

Bikeshopgirl Kemper wrote: "Bikeshopgirl wrote: "Excellent review, Kemper.

Inside this two-headed monster is a good book trying to get out. Willis must have reached that level of success where no-one in her personal circle..."


Indeedly doodly. It conforms to the Willis formula, whereby all the ends are neatly tied up & there's a happily ever after (a formula which I love, don't get me wrong), but you have to survive much hand wringing, vexation & guff to get there. At one point during All Clear, I started to feel quite strongly that if Willis were standing in front of me, I'd punch her. I think I'll call it Read Rage.


message 14: by Kemper (last edited Nov 10, 2010 12:59PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Kemper Bikeshopgirl wrote: "Kemper wrote: "Bikeshopgirl wrote: "Excellent review, Kemper.

Inside this two-headed monster is a good book trying to get out. Willis must have reached that level of success where no-one in her pe..."


I understand completely about the Read Rage you felt. I was foaming at the mouth when I finished this piece of piece of crap. I read the summary on Wikipedia of All Clear just to know how the story ends without inflicting more Willis internal dialogue on myself, and I could just picture the awfulness with the constant fretting and second guessing.

"Indeedly doodly"? Are you related to Ned Flanders?


message 15: by Bikeshopgirl (new)

Bikeshopgirl Kemper wrote: "Bikeshopgirl wrote: "Kemper wrote: "Bikeshopgirl wrote: "Excellent review, Kemper.

Inside this two-headed monster is a good book trying to get out. Willis must have reached that level of success..."


Aren't we all? Though, most days I feel more like Marge.


message 16: by Kemper (last edited Nov 14, 2010 02:12PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Kemper Bikeshopgirl wrote: "Kemper wrote: "Bikeshopgirl wrote: "Kemper wrote: "Bikeshopgirl wrote: "Excellent review, Kemper.

Inside this two-headed monster is a good book trying to get out. Willis must have reached that lev..."


I usually find myself in a Milhouse frame of mind...


Stacey I swear I'm going to start a shelf called "never in a million years and don't make me punch you in the throat." This could be the first book on that shelf.


Kemper Stacey wrote: "I swear I'm going to start a shelf called "never in a million years and don't make me punch you in the throat." This could be the first book on that shelf."

That's a good one. I mght start a shelf called Hours of My Life Wasted I'll Never Get Back.


Stacey Hey! I have one of those!


Kemper Stacey wrote: "Hey! I have one of those!"

Great minds think alike.


Sandi I'm so conflicted. I really liked the book, but I also laughed my butt off at your review. I had to click that "like" button even though I disagree with your opinion. Connie Willis is one of my favorite authors, but there are people that can't stand her. I don't get it, but I respect it.


Kemper Sandi wrote: "I'm so conflicted. I really liked the book, but I also laughed my butt off at your review. I had to click that "like" button even though I disagree with your opinion. Connie Willis is one of my ..."

Thanks for the vote even though we differ on this. I saw from the reviews that there were a lot of people who did enjoy it, and some who felt the same way I did. We'll have to agree to disagree on this one. And we did it without flaming each other!


message 23: by McKinley (new)

McKinley Oh GOD!!! Ha ha ha! I was going to write a review that brought up each of these issues in a much less inventive, clever, and entertaining way. From now on, if I ever so much as mention this book, I'll just link to your review. Maybe you should write novels. I'll read them instead of books by Willis. Gag. I particularly enjoyed the part where you mentioned that all the characters were exactly the same. It's so true. I had a hard time telling Eileen/Merope and Polly apart, other than their circumstances. Other than that, they were exactly the same. And was I to understand that the rather stunted storyline inserted randomly into the book involving...Mary, was it? was another storyline that will be resolved in the next book? I'm rather mystified. Was that the mysterious historian no one could identify who was in London for VE Day? I don't know if it is even worth worrying about.

The worst part is, I didn't READ this book, I actually LISTENED to it on audiobook. It took 18 HOURS rather than the 3 or 4 it would have taken me to just read the damned thing. Sigh! Talk about hours of my life I will never get back. Good Grief.

Anyway, great review--I agreed with everything you said, rather unusual for my contradictory nature.


message 24: by Kemper (last edited Dec 09, 2010 06:24AM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Kemper McKinley wrote:

Thanks! The depths of my hatred for this book did inspire me to try and get creative when bashing it. Glad you liked. Oh, and I was an audio book victim of this also. Which was weird because I thought the narrator was actually very good as far as the reading itself went, but the story was just so awful that after a while the sound of her voice made me want to take an icepick to my eardrums.


Jennifer Connolly Hah! I love this review. I read both books and ranted in both reviews and yet gave them both three stars -- I think because I wanted to like them, there's a book in there somewhere that I would like if it were edited and possibly just written by a different author.

The shame of it is - all of her books are populated by this same identical character -- a spineless passive idiot who can't make decisions or do anything that might indicated he/she has any common sense.


Kemper Jennifer wrote: "Hah! I love this review. I read both books and ranted in both reviews and yet gave..

Thanks. I completely agree that this was a good idea ruined by bad storytelling as well as brainless and spineless characters.


message 27: by Trish (new)

Trish I am not going to add a review of this book, it's not worth it. I am so mad I read it to the end only to discover I need to buy the sequel in order to find out whether this helpless trio (plus various others whose stories were never finished) made it back to 2060. I bought this book in Australia. It cost me $32.99!! Nowhere on the cover does it inform me that in order to finish the story I need to wade through another book. What a take! I am appalled and want my money back. I am not going to waste another $30, not to mention my time, to 'finish' the story this author couldn't do in 491 pages - she needs a better editor


Kemper I knew it was the first of two parts going in, but the suckitude was just so awful that I wouldn't dream of going near the second one.


message 29: by Nicole (last edited Jan 25, 2011 10:17PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Nicole "That was a queer encounter, and no mistake," said Polly.

Mike raised an eyebrow. "'Queer encounter'? You're going native, Polly."

"But it WAS strange," said Eileen. "He was awfully dismissive about our drops not opening."

Mike shrugged. "Be fair--he does have a time machine. We don't. We can only wait around for our peeps in the future to open access portals for us."

"Which is why we're all so concerned about them not opening. Without them, we have literally no way back home."

"Maybe he thinks we should call someone--I don't know, Doctor Who, maybe, or a stranded time traveller service." Mike paused to consider this. "Which wouldn't exist, even in 2060, because, well, NO ONE HAS EVER BEEN STRANDED IN THE PAST BEFORE."

"That IS why our situation sucks so badly," Polly agreed. "It's completely unprecedented. I thought it was well-established in the early part of the book that we, as historians, are used to nipping back to Oxford for a spare bit of costuming, driving lessons, R&R, etc., which was why I was so unnerved when MY drop didn't open, the night St. George's Church got the shit bombed out of it."

"Yes, I remember--that was how you got your black skirt, right? You turned up at work the next morning, looking like death warmed over and rambling about a skirt, and your bitchy boss showed an unexpected kind side and gave you a skirt."

Polly nodded. "Since she had no way of knowing about my financial situation, and just assumed it was dire because I'd basically begged her for a job, and then--due to my drop not opening--had turned up in the same outfit two days running."

"Decent of her," agreed Mike.

"Also ties neatly into Connie Willis' theme of hope and kindnesses during dark times. But enough about my skirt. What does he think we should have done? Built a time machine ourselves?"

"Maybe he's the sort of person who blames castaways on desert islands for not building airplanes out of bamboo and coconuts and sheer willpower, when in fact their best hope of rescue would be to try to signal someone, anyone, who might be looking for them. With, say, mirrors; and, if they don't have mirrors or if the mirrors break, by lighting fires; or, if they don't have any way of making fire or they eventually run out of fuel, just carving the word 'HELP' in really big letters in the sand. The point is that they need to keep plugging away, even if it seems like they're not accomplishing anything, need to keep on keepin' on and never giving up hope, just like the locals--which, hey! Another theme!"

The trio exchanged high fives.

"And if it seems like our putative castaways are excessively fixated on someone coming to save them, it's because they know they're not getting out under their own power, and getting rescued is literally their only hope." Mike finished. "It'd also be important that they stay in the last area they were known to be, which is where rescuers normally start looking."

"Maybe he flunked the part of Boy Scouts where the Scoutmaster explains that if you get lost, you STAY PUT," Polly mused.

"Mr Dunworthy being, as previously established, paranoid about our safety, would come rescue us if we're in trouble," said Eileen. "That he hasn't yet done so implies that he can't, either because he doesn't know where we are (in which case trying to tell him, via some medium such as newspapers that will survive the 120 years between now and 2060, is our only hope of rescue), or because our 2060 time of origin has ceased to exist. We can't do anything about the latter, but we can do something about the former, so it makes sense to concentrate our efforts on that area."

"And to try to avoid, y'know, any actions that would CAUSE our 2060 to cease to exist. Which is why I spend so much time obsessing about having already changed history," sighed Mike.

"I still think you're worrying over nothing, Mike, as well-developed characters can sometimes do, but you do have cause for concern," said Polly. "NONE of our drops open! ONE drop might not open ONCE or TWICE, if there's someone around to watch you vanish into thin air, but it is unprecedented in the history of time travel for NO ONE's drops to work. We are sort of up shit creek here, stranded in a city that is being bombed nightly. Should we not value our lives? Or our homes in 2060?"

Mike shrugged. The friends began to walk down the street.

"Why wouldn't he take a message to Oxford for us, do you suppose?" asked Polly, after a while.

Eileen laughed, mirthlessly. "Do you know, I rather think he was offering to take us back."

Mike stopped as if poleaxed. "No. No one could have misunderstood THAT badly."

But Eileen just shook her head. "He really did seem to think that he could just whisk us back to 2060!"

"He'd either have taken us to his own home time--when did he say it was?"

"2010."

"To 2010--some 30 years before any of us was born--in which case we'd be much WORSE off than we are in 1940, where at least our friends know where to look for us."

"Or else he could have tried to bring us back to a point within our own lifetimes--"

Polly picked up the thread of the conversation. "--in which case the continuum wouldn't have let him do it, because we've already established that you can't be in two places at once. The continuum will stop you from trying if there's already a version of you where you're trying to go--and if you've already been somewhere and then you visit a previous point in time and wait for it to roll around again, you will find a fatal accident waiting for you between now and then. Why does he think I'm so concerned about still being here when my previous self comes? The continuum will kill any extraneous versions of me to enforce the only one-me-at-a-time rule!"

All three shook their heads.

"Really," Mike said, with a final shrug, "If he didn't understand the plot, it's his problem, not ours."


message 30: by Jeffrey (new)

Jeffrey Paris [was Infinite Tasks] Greatest. Review. Ever.


message 31: by Kemper (last edited Jan 26, 2011 06:45AM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Kemper Nicole wrote:

Funny. But misses my point completely. No, I don't expect them to build a time machine. But knowing that 2060 uses newspapers for research, they couldn't put an ad in using guarded language saying they were in trouble and needed a new drop opened? As for people never being stranded in the past, as I understand it, Willis used some of the characters in another trapped-in-the-past book.

As for your point about staying in the same place, they didn't. Two of them completely left their last known areas making them hard to find.

I found absolutely no compelling drama in this pitiful excuse of a book. It was the interal dialogues of three passive whining pathetic pieces of crap who couldn't do something as basic as tell someone "NO!" when their lives literally depend on it.

Some people have liked it. I hated it. Judging from the votes and comments I got, I'm far from the only one. Your mileage may vary. So be it. But trust me, you don't want to question me about time travel. Thanks to Quantum Leap, Dr. Who, Back to the Future, Lost, Terminator, Twelve Monkeys and dozens of others, I've spent more time than is healthy thinking about all the variations. I may suck at physics but I know my fictional time travel.

Oh, and why couldn't I take them to 2060 in my time mower? It was fully capable of moving through the past and present. I have now dismantled it because I was terrified that I might meet more Connie Willis's characters somewhere, and I'd rather give up time traveling rather than risk meeting more of those asshats.


Kemper Infinite wrote: "Greatest. Review. Ever."

Thanks!


message 33: by Nicole (last edited Jan 26, 2011 07:25AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Nicole Funny. But misses my point completely. No, I don't expect them to build a time machine. But knowing that 2060 uses newspapers for research, they couldn't put an ad in using saying they were in trouble and needed a new drop opened?

Except that they spend the first half of All Clear doing just that. (They also try to get to a time travel safe house, by the way.) The only reason they don't do it in Blackout is that at that time they don't know how dire their situation is, only that it's pretty bad and steadily getting worse. The whole point of Blackout is the crushing realization that no one is coming for them. I know you didn't read All Clear, but it's hardly fair to call characters stupid when they do in fact do what you claim they should have done.

As for people never being stranded in the past, as I understand it, Willis used some of the characters in another trapped-in-the-past book.

Only Kivrin, in Doomsday Book, and that's because Oxford thinks it doesn't have the right coordinates (that, and people are dying like flies due to an epidemic). Not because they physically can't set up a drop.

As for your point about staying in the same place, they didn't. Two of them completely left their last known areas making them hard to find.

And they made sure to leave a clear trail to their new location for just this reason.

But trust me, you don't want to question me about time travel. Thanks to Quantum Leap, Dr. Who, Back to the Future, Lost, Terminator, Twelve Monkeys and dozens of others, I've spent more time than is healthy thinking about all the variations. I may suck at physics but I know my fictional time travel.

Yes, well, you don't want to get into a dick-measuring contest on time travel with me either, and I'm not impugning your knowledge of other time travel systems, just your willingness to bitch about a system you couldn't be bothered to fully understand before you started bitching about it. But science fiction street cred is not the point. Time travel in Willis' universe doesn't work the way it does in others. That doesn't make hers defective, and your failure to understand it (due, let me hasten to add, to you not reading the second book, not your grasp of time travel mechanics, so stop getting defensive) doesn't make it defective either. It operates according to its own rules, is (mostly) consistent, and her characters are rational operators within that system as they understand it.

Oh, and why couldn't I take them to 2060 in my time mower? It was fully capable of moving through the past and present.

Willis' time travel universe is one of those in which you can't really change the past, you can only make sure it happened the way it always happened. (Like in Harry Potter.) What would have happened is that you would not have been able to. You'd have been able to open a portal to 2010, which doesn't particularly help our trio. You could not have opened a portal to any point in the future during their lives, because one version of them was already present. You could only have attempted to open a portal to Oxford 2060 after they'd left, and it wouldn't have opened for the same reason that their own drops wouldn't open (or they'd have used those). They are, for all of Blackout and 90% of All Clear, ignorant of that reason. That doesn't mean there isn't one.

Look, I'm not saying you should have loved it or anything. I, too, have thrown books against the wall, which I'm sure have their ardent defenders. Not your cup of tea, that's fine; not other peoples' cup of tea, also fine. But you can't complain about characters not doing X when they do in fact do X.


message 34: by Dan (last edited Jan 26, 2011 08:08AM) (new)

Dan Schwent I think I'll take my Dolorean back to October and warn past-Kemper about the impending firestorm...


Kemper Dan wrote: "I think I'll take my Dolorean back to October and warn past-Kemper about the impending firestorm..."

Won't work. Connie Willis said so.


message 36: by Dan (new)

Dan Schwent Kemper wrote: "Dan wrote: "I think I'll take my Dolorean back to October and warn past-Kemper about the impending firestorm..."

Won't work. Connie Willis said so."


Would it help if I made the trip naked ala Terminator?


message 37: by Kemper (last edited Jan 26, 2011 09:24AM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Kemper Nicole wrote: "But you can't complain about characters not doing X when they do in fact do X.

Uh...Yes, I can. In fact, I did. And will continue to do so. If those idiots finally get some common sense and backbones in the second book, it doesn't change the fact that I loathed them so completely by the end of this one that I'd rather poke my own eyes out than read the second one. That means that Willis angered me so badly that I won't even finish the story. And for me, it's very rare that I won't stick one out to the bitter end, no matter how terrible it is. (And I did read a summary of the plot of All Clear. It sounded like it sucked as much as this one.)

As for not being able to use my time mower to go change the past or move to the future; maybe not in Willis's universe. But in my reviews, it's my universe and my rules.

I'm honestly sorry you got so worked up over this, but I absolutely hated this book. I regretted every second I wasted on it. I tried to take a big ole sour lemon and make some lemonade by turning my rage and frustration into a review that I hoped might provide a few laughs and allow me to vent.

I'm not trying to offend you or extend this debate, but please don't tell me what the 'rules' are in a review I wrote that is obviously not meant to reflect reality. Not to go all grade school, but you're not the boss of me.

I'm dropping this now. I encourage you to go and read some reviews from the people who liked the book rather than focusing on the people like me who couldn't stand it.


Kemper Dan wrote: Would it help if I made the trip naked ala Terminator?

Please don't. But if you've got a Quantum Leap acclerator handy and want to take a turn, feel free.


message 39: by Dan (new)

Dan Schwent I do happen to have a Quantum Leap accelerator handy. Do you happen to know if clothing is required for that? Time travelling is a much more relaxed experience without the restrictions of clothing.


Kemper Per the opening credits, I think you gotta wear some kind of white spandex body suit. At least that's what it looked like Bakula was wearing.


message 41: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie Not flattering!


Nicole Oh, I appreciate what you were trying to do with your review, Kemper, I'm just saying that your attempt at it reveals that you really didn't understand the book. I still think that, and that the joke is, ultimately, on you.

Ta now.


message 43: by Kemper (last edited Jun 24, 2012 06:03AM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Kemper Nicole wrote:

The joke is on me that I spent money and wasted time on a book that was an utter piece of garbage. I understood it. I just hated it.


Linda So why did you bother to continue reading it?


Kemper Linda wrote: "So why did you bother to continue reading it?"

Because I'm a masochist and the pain brought on by Willis's writing was more exquisite than putting lit cigarettes out on my face.


message 46: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie Kemper wrote: "Linda wrote: "So why did you bother to continue reading it?"

Because I'm a masochist and the pain brought on by Willis's writing was more exquisite than putting lit cigarettes out on my face."


LOL


message 47: by Bikeshopgirl (new)

Bikeshopgirl It really feels like there's some trolls on this comment string - I mean, who could have enjoyed this 'series' in all seriousness & how can anyone defend their embedded illogic? Not to mention, what's the point of getting so worked up about it, when this audience is clearly unreceptive, unless you want to pick a fight? So, declare your equine ownership & begone.


Kemper Bikeshopgirl wrote: "It really feels like there's some trolls on this comment string - I mean, who could have enjoyed this 'series' in all seriousness & how can anyone defend their embedded illogic? Not to mention, wha..."

Amen sister.


message 49: by Elizabeth (new) - added it

Elizabeth thank you SO MUCH for this review. You have hit every single one of my complaints and you've done it so much more wittily and coherently than I did.


Kemper Elizabeth wrote:

Thanks!


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