Jon's Reviews > Blackout

Blackout by Connie Willis
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's review
Nov 14, 10

bookshelves: fiction, science-fiction, time-travel, read-in-my-40s
Recommended to Jon by: Jamie
Read from November 02 to 07, 2010, read count: 1

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 catch phrase 'For want of a nail' becomes an argument both for and against altering the time-line. All doors back to Oxford and home seem sealed off and hope flickers and flutters against the background of air raid sirens and the Blackout.

The author peeled back the curtains to give us a glimpse of England in 1940, the astonishing courage and fortitude of her citizens. Amidst all the danger and bleakness, the light and compassion continued to shine. And the occasional comedic interludes, especially as respects to two incorrigible children, Alf and Binnie, and a rag tag amateur acting troupe forged in the shelters and tube stations during air raids, directed by a retired knighted Shakespearean actor, Sir Godfrey. Willis captures the soul of the British to a tea.

Be prepared to move directly on to the second novel immediately. The only reason I didn't give this first novel five stars relates to the torture I would have endured waiting six months to read the second half. I didn't torture myself, though, because I waited until All Clear was released before starting Blackout.
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Reading Progress

11/02/2010 page 1
0.0%
11/02/2010 page 42
9.0% "Sign in London (1940): "To the Trenches ==>""
11/02/2010 page 72
15.0% "For want of a nail, . . ." 2 comments
11/03/2010 page 124
25.0% "Still good advice 70 years later: 'Coughs and sneezes spread diseases' -- British Ministry of Health Poster, 1940" 1 comment
11/04/2010 page 145
30.0% "Research tangent: Ravens at Tower of London during Blitz" 4 comments
11/04/2010 page 185
38.0% "The height of irony? 'They'd make a beautiful target, wouldn't they?' -- General Short, commenting on the battelships lined up at Pearl Harbor, 6 Dec 1941"
11/04/2010 page 206
42.0% "'Real planes, real bombs. This is no f---ing drill.' -- Voice on the P.A. of the Oklahoma, 7 Dec 1941 (you can fill in the blanks, but I'm not going to)."
11/05/2010 page 254
52.0% "'Wars are not won by evacuations' -- Winston Churchill, after Dunkirk"
11/05/2010 page 322
66.0% "'This Way to the Air Raid Shelter ==>' -- Notice on London Street, 1940"
11/06/2010 page 356
73.0% "11 Across -- But some bigwig like this has stolen some of it at times. (Solution: Overlord) -- Daily Herald crossword clue suspected of being a message to the Germans, 27 May 1944"
11/06/2010 page 366
75.0% "'There are no civilians.' -- English woman on being asked about civilian morale in London during the Blitz."
11/06/2010 page 393
80.0% "'Those in the convent are desperate.' -- Coded message to the French Resistance, 5 Jun 1944"
11/07/2010 page 409
83.0% "'Danger: Land Mines' -- Notice on English Beach, 1940"
11/07/2010 page 486
99.0% "'Way Out ==>' -- Notice in London Underground Station"
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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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message 1: by Jackie (new)

Jackie This one sounds really good. I'm looking forward to your full review.


message 2: by Werner (new)

Werner Jon, great review, as usual! Have you read Willis' excellent short story, "Firewatch?" That one features a time-traveling Oxford history student in the very same milieu.


message 3: by Jon (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jon Yes, I have read "Firewatch" - it waas part of The Winds of Marble Arch which I read earlier this year.


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