Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Fire Watch (Oxford Time Travel, #0.5)” as Want to Read:
Fire Watch (Oxford Time Travel, #0.5)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Fire Watch

(Oxford Time Travel #0.5)

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  712 ratings  ·  60 reviews
"Fire Watch" is a science fiction novelette by American writer Connie Willis. The story, first published in Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine in February 1982,[1] involves a time-traveling historian who goes back to the Blitz in London, to participate in the fire lookout at St. Paul's Cathedral.

The protagonist has a deep emotional attachment to the Cathedral and is h
Hardcover, 92 pages
Published October 22nd 2010 by WSFA Press (first published February 1982)
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.
Popular Answered Questions
Meira (readingbooksinisrael) It happens sometime after Doomsday Book, but the world is not full developed yet so some things don't quite match up.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.88  · 
Rating details
 ·  712 ratings  ·  60 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Fire Watch (Oxford Time Travel, #0.5)
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
I'm a Connie Willis fan, and this Hugo and Nebula award-winning novelette is one of my favorites, and the first work she wrote about her Oxford University time-travelling historians. And bonus! this story is free online here:

Bartholomew is a history student at Oxford who's assigned to travel back in time to London during the WWII Blitz for his practicum, to work as part of a team that protects St. Paul's Cathedral against Nazi incendiary bombs. Bartholome
Peter Derk
Feb 18, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
Pretty good book, quick read, all that.

The main thing I wanted to talk about is time travel because I really do want to talk about what I want to talk about. That would make a great chorus for a pop country song.

What's cool about Connie Willis is that, for my money, she handles time travel well. It's not explained in this story, but I had a kindly office mate explain to me that Connie Willis' other books that take place in the same universe involve something called "slippage." Slippage is the th
Nov 16, 2014 rated it liked it
Pretty good short that introduced us to the time-traveling historians of Oxford. When comparing this to Blackout/All Clear, you can really see how much Willis has honed her craft over the years.
Karen’s Library
Interesting story about a time-traveling historian trying to save St. Paul's cathedral during the blitz in London during World War II.
This novelette which won the both Hugo and Nebula, serves as a good primer to Connie Willis' works.

I just read To Say Nothing of the Dog a few days ago, so I thought it would be good to read this novelette before reading Doomsday Book.

But my advice to anyone interested in her books would be to start directly with To Say Nothing of the Dog or Doomsday Book. Arguably, these two books could be considered to be her best efforts.
Sep 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
Very good, but damn if the bit about Russia/Communists (who, you know, bombed places left and right) didn't age. The moment I got to it I knew when it must have been written.
Jun 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Scott by: Connie Willis
I read this after I finished Blackout and All Clear. There are some minor discrepancies but nothing that a little willing suspension of disbelief won't cover up. It was nice to see Kivrin again.

I think Connie Willis has it correct. How often have you romanticized about traveling to the past? I never really take into consideration language differences - let alone differences in norms and folkways - in my flights of fancy.

I looked up The Battle of Britain on 29. December 1940 on the internet and f
Apr 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Powerful time travel story.

Apparently, this is only the beginning of a series of huge books. If this is any indication, it going to be good.

See you at the other end of Doomsday Book.
Jun 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Quite possibly the best bit of time-travel fiction I've ever read. 'Scuse me while I devour the rest of the series...
Sara J. (kefuwa)
Jan 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
That was - perfect! All the feels! Man I did not expect that. And I've read Doomsday Book & Blackout/All Clear! T_T Great start to my 2019 short stories/novelettes reading!

First read: 4jan19
Oct 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
"Of course they're relevant!" I shouted. "They are the history, not all these bloody numbers!"
Angela Demott
Jan 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
This short story isn’t as developed as the novels in the Oxford Time Travel series in terms of characterization or even plot, but it does still offer that unique and identifying style that is all Connie Willis. Some readers hate it, but this reader can’t get enough.
Naomi Ruth
Sep 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this little novella about a time traveling historian and St. Paul's Cathedral. I found it gripping and didn't want to stop until I found out how it all worked out. I'm curious about Connie Willis' other books now.
Chris Cutler
Jan 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: e-book, sci-fi
A great introduction to Willis' Oxford Time Travel series. A short story, this excursion into WWII concisely introduces the ideas, feeling, and ethic of her approach to "History" in a way that converts her readers, rather than just informing them. Which, of course, is the whole point.
Durval Menezes
Feb 28, 2019 rated it liked it
Quick read, reasonably interesting story at least for someone interested in WW2 history like me. Also informative, learned some things I still didn't know about the London blitz by further researching on some points the story brought up.

On the negative side:
1) it's a much worse story than the one told in the "Doomsday Book" novel by the same author. Also, I do not understand why Goodreads lists this as "Book 0.5" in the same series; I see no way in which it's story could somehow come 'before' th
Meira (readingbooksinisrael)
Jul 17, 2020 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Connie Willis super fans
2.5/5 stars

When reading this I thought that it was written after Doomsday Book and didn't understand how because while it has cameos from the characters it has things that outright contradict how Oxford and time travel happen in Doomsday Book. So I am much less annoyed now I know it was the precursor and not the other way around.

Connie Willis changed a lot of things in Doomsday Book and for the better, in my opinion. I have often wanted to hit Dunworthy but never as badly as in this story. Her w
Nov 26, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: z3-2018-read-in
I had every intention of reading Connie Willis's Oxford Time Travel series next year, so I began this month with this prequel.
This novel features the St. Paul's Watch but, since I know nothing about war-time London, I had to go read an article about the fire watch volunteers at St. Paul's Cathedral during 1939-1945.
I used a dictionary constantly during this novella, which didn't interest me much until the last 10-15 pages. I did enjoy all the semi-philosophizing about "the historian's mission."
Mark Walsh
Jun 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Willis' novellas win a lot of awards; it's not hard to see why. THE DOOMSDAY BOOK is the only one of her long novels I've made it through, even though I thought it was brilliant. The fact that FIRE WATCH is the 1st part of the same series is a bonus! The shorter length seems to suit her, IMO. Her stories don't include a lot of world-building or detailed plotting. FIRE WATCH is one of Willis' best, and one of the best novellas I've read.
Nov 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Hm. Well, I liked it OK because it is Connie Willis. But I didn't seem to follow or track this one as well? I often felt like I just did not have a handle of what is going on and why. After all the angst about Kivrin going out I just don't see him booting an unprepared guy out? Especially with what HAPPENED to Kivrin. Glad I read it though.
Kim Clarke
Nov 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Teaser intro to the series, leaving me with a lot of questions that I hope will be answered in subsequent books. 1. When the heck is the present? 2. What happened to Denver? and 3. Why are cats so rare in the future?

Possibly the best line in any book ever. "If the kippers set Lord Nelson on fire, I shall be a hero"
Jun 16, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: ebook, novella
This was basically exactly what I knew it was going to be: a short story whose ideas Willis then used to expand into full novels. But as is, the story was pretty thin. I doubt I'd ever read this again, but it did make me want to revisit Blackout and All Clear, both of which I really loved.
Linda S
Apr 13, 2018 rated it liked it
Short story collection. The title story is great, but some of the others fall flat
Nov 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I literally have nothing to say about this that isn't perfection, but then again I'm biased. I love this series.
Erin Stuhlsatz
May 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sff
Feb 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I love this - although not quite as much as 'To Say Nothing of the Dog', admittedly!
Feb 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: wwii, sci-fi-fun
Fun glimpse at an important shadow character in All Clear.
Hugo winning Novelette that brings the London Blitz brilliantly alive and demonstrates the origins of the Oxford Time Travel series.
Sep 15, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013-book-150
This novelette is a tad more techy than the Oxford Time Travel novels, so more satisfying. There were no annoying children--a plus. Willis's talent sparkles most brightly in her shorter works. I chuckled at several points, not a common occurrence for me with the OTT books.

The story is structured kind of like a diary, as we follow Bartholomew on his assignment. It's a very useful frame for a time travel story and the diary-style writing make for a much more intimate view of events.

It's apparent t
I don't know how I would feel about this story if I had never been to St Paul's Cathedral in London. I have, though, and been awestruck. Among other things, this
story celebrates the courage and dedication of the people of the fire watch at St Paul's during World War II. (There is a great photograph of St Paul's surrounded by smoke taken during a German attack on London in 1940. It was taken by Herbert Mason and titled "St Paul's Survives." It can be found on Google under the title of the photog
« previous 1 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Sci-fi and Heroic...: "Fire Watch" by Connie Willis 22 24 Jul 17, 2018 10:01AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • A Sound of Thunder
  • Downbelow Station (The Company Wars, #1)
  • The Secret Chapter (The Invisible Library, #6)
  • Beauty And The Beast (Picture Storybooks)
  • Beauty and the Beast
  • Doctor Aphra (Star Wars)
  • H.G. Wells' The War of the Worlds (Graphic Novel)
  • Only You Can Save Mankind (Johnny Maxwell, #1)
  • Fantastic Four (1961-1998) #52
  • The Very Quiet Cricket
  • Not a Box
  • Muggie Maggie
  • Star Wars Adventures, Vol. 8: Defend the Republic!
  • Attack of the Deranged Mutant Killer Monster Snow Goons (Calvin and Hobbes #7)
  • The Revenge of the Baby-Sat (Calvin and Hobbes #5)
  • The Legend of Korra: The Art of the Animated Series Book Two: Spirits
  • The Proudest Blue
  • Behold the Man
See similar books…
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

Other books in the series

Oxford Time Travel (4 books)
  • Doomsday Book (Oxford Time Travel, #1)
  • To Say Nothing of the Dog (Oxford Time Travel, #2)
  • Blackout (All Clear, #1)
  • All Clear (All Clear, #2)

Related Articles

On trial for murder? Check. Unsolicited space travel? Yep. Dire straits abound in these riveting recs from the Crosstalk author.
38 likes · 11 comments