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Doomsday Book

(Oxford Time Travel #1)

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  53,680 ratings  ·  5,648 reviews
For Kivrin, preparing an on-site study of one of the deadliest eras in humanity's history was as simple as receiving inoculations against the diseases of the fourteenth century and inventing an alibi for a woman traveling alone. For her instructors in the twenty-first century, it meant painstaking calculations and careful monitoring of the rendezvous location where Kivrin ...more
Paperback, 587 pages
Published November 1st 2012 by Gollancz (first published June 5th 1992)
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Jenan I like to imagine it was what we call a "bomber jacket", but in the book's imagined future only terrorists use bombs, so the name of the jacket change…moreI like to imagine it was what we call a "bomber jacket", but in the book's imagined future only terrorists use bombs, so the name of the jacket changed. (less)
Robin C If you've read "Blackout", I would go ahead and read "All Clear" next, because the stories are more closely linked than either one are to "Doomsday". …moreIf you've read "Blackout", I would go ahead and read "All Clear" next, because the stories are more closely linked than either one are to "Doomsday". But do read "Doomsday"; it's excellent.(less)

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The Middle Ages are a shady back alley of history. They are a juvenile delinquent to which all the 'proper' historical eras give the proverbial side-eye.
“Life expectancy in 1300 was thirty-eight years,” he had told her when she first said she wanted to go to the Middle Ages, “and you only lived that long if you survived cholera and smallpox and blood poisoning, and if you didn’t eat rotten meat or drink polluted water or get trampled by a horse. Or get burned at the stake for witchcraft.”
Mar 24, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, borrowed
What I find most objectionable about this book is its apparent lack of editing. Half the novel consists of people panicking over the phone about other phone conversations other people have had about people getting on and off trains who are the children of WHO CARES. Willis has no sense of perspective, no skill for inventing the suggestive detail; consequently, this novel is a monument to the gods of boredom. This on top of the implausible premise that if time travel were available as a technolog ...more
Glenn Russell
Apr 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing

A quote from courageous young Kivrin, the medievalist who travels back in time where she lives among villagers in 14th century English: “I wanted to come, and if I hadn’t, they would have been all alone, and nobody would have ever known how frightened and brave and irreplaceable they were.”
― Connie Willis, Doomsday Book

Doomsday Book, republished as part of the SF Masterworks series by the American author Connie Willis is an amazing, unique, captivating 600-page novel taking place in two times co
mark monday
and what exactly was the point of this nearly 600-page novel? that people can be incredibly annoying and repetitious? that the Black Death kills? i can't believe i wasted so many hours reading this flabby, irritating nonsense. i could have been spending time with friends or exercising or taking naps. or reading another book. the entire thing is a monument to wasted time - my time and the characters' time and the 5 years of time it took to write this extravagantly dreary ode to pointlessness.

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 a
Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
This was so freaking good!! I’m going to have to get the other books now!!

Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾
Mar 27, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone that wants to become a bell ringer
OMG I am finally finished! What a travel down a monotonous road. I will not attempt to say once again what has been so eloquently said many times before. But one thing that I had to mention was a phrase that has stuck in my mind for days. I found myself last week picking up the book so that I might be able to put closure on it. So there I am reading (ok skimming) this book as some say “Best time-travel novel I've ever read!” or “a study of people's behavior” what behavior, all the characters did ...more
I finished Doomsday Book this morning and immediately moved on to the next book on my to-read list, which happens to be Hyperion by Dan Simmons. Doomsday Book left me a little messed up in the head and I wanted to replace the imagery and train of thought with something new. I figured I'd have to let Doomsday Book mull around in my head for a while before I could write an effective review. I figured the same about Iain Banks' Transition, another book I recently finished. So my plan was to read Hy ...more
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
$1.99 Kindle sale, Jan. 21, 2019. Maybe my favorite time travel book ever (and I do like me a good time travel tale), Doomsday Book won both the Hugo and Nebula (as well as several other awards) in the early 1990s when it was published.

Kivrin is a history major at Oxford in a near-future world where time travel machines are controlled by universities and used for research purposes. Kivrin is traveling back in time to live in a medieval English village for a few weeks, but things go just a bit e
Nov 28, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi, xcharity-2011
I am very concerned. I read “The Doomsday Book” time travel saga, eagerly anticipating it based on the many Goodreads reviews that highly praise this story. Many reviewers whom I trust rave about this book. I just didn’t see it at all, not a bit. Not only was it supremely boring, but annoying. The first 120 pages can be summarized: “something is wrong”. During the next 180 pages, the rest of the characters realize there is “something wrong”. Yawn! I felt like slapping virtually every character i ...more
This is my second read.

The first time I read it, I was fascinated by CW's take on time travel and the mirroring of the plague in the future with the past's Black Death, but moreover, the characters snuck up on me and tore my soul apart. It was, perhaps, the best time-travel novel I'd ever read.

That was then.

But now? Even when I knew it was coming, when I tried to keep from loving all these characters in the past and in the future, I was unable to help myself. They're flawed, annoying, lovable,
Mar 09, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition

If you're only going to read one book this year... Make sure this one is simply on hand in case you run out of toilet paper. If you think that's being crude, let me remind you a lack of toilet paper is one of her side plots she uses to move things along. And by move things along, I mean NOTHING IN THIS STORY GOES ANYWHERE EVER.

This book won a Nebula and Hugo award. Oh swoon, right? OMG this must be awesome, right??? Well, no... A
Jennifer (aka EM)
Jun 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jennifer (aka EM) by: Ian Foster
Updated: 07/05/10

Connie Willis shows us that we do not need to look to the future for an apocalyptic setting suitable for exorcising whatever demons haunt us, testing whatever faith we may or may not have, revealing the height of humanity's capacity for compassion or the depth of its misery. We had the mid-14th Century for that.

These ain't Jesuits on a distant planet, or a man and a boy wandering down a road.

This shit really happened, people.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

A week ago or so, I
Apr 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(That's a quote from the only character I truly liked in this book.)

My first Connie Willis book. I’ve heard A LOT about this from all kinds of other readers. And I must admit that there is no denying the quality. At all. But more of that later.

This is about a historical institute belonging to the University of Oxford in 2054/2055. Since this book was written some time ago, there are no cell phones or laptops, but the telephones are some form of FaceTime the way they were described. A
2.5 to 3 Stars

This book took me about half a year to finish. I started it in the middle of a book slump caused by anxiety early on in the COVID-19 pandemic. In hindsight, maybe this wasn't the best book content-wise to get over pandemic caused anxiety!

A few thoughts . . .

Why did this take me so long to read?: I started this as part of a buddy read. I believe my fellow readers finished it months ago. I tried to get myself to read at least a chapter a day, but something about the book made it feel
Sep 10, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone. Ever.
From my blog:

If you haven't read anything by Connie Willis, I highly suggest that you stop whatever you're doing and go out and get one of her books.

Willis is sort of a giant in the science fiction world -- she's won Hugo and Nebula awards, among many others. This is the third book I've read by her (in addition to To Say Nothing of the Dog and Bellwether), and I must say, the woman can write. Her plots are engaging and funny and heartbreaking and her books are nearly impossible to put down.

Just about 3 stars. It's a shame really because I LOVED the actual account of Kivrin and the details of life in the 1300s community she was brought in to was fascinating. If all or the majority of this had been the main chunk of the story, this would easily have been 4 stars. But I found the modern day story really boring. ...more
✘✘ Sarah ✘✘ (former Nefarious Breeder of Murderous Crustaceans)
😷 Pestilence for the Win Buddy Read (PftWBR™) with Eilonwy and Elena 😷

Previous rating: 5 pathetic stars
New rating: 12 stars. Give or take give a star or two ten.

There are only three things you need to know about this book:

① The cover for my edition is one of the most AMAZING things works of art I was ever given to see:

Not sure whether it’s amazing because:
a) It’s scary as fish
b) There’s a 90% chance of going color blind if you stare at it for more than 2 and a half minutes
c) It looks like t
Sep 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, favorites
This is one of the elite novels that won both Hugo and Nebula awards, there are not many of those and they are generally very good books though you and I can always find some titles to be undeserving, c'est la vie. Before starting on reading this novel I looked around Goodreads and Amazon for some consensus of opinion among other readers. I found the prevailing opinion to be on the positive side but it is always interesting to note the negatives also, in case the reviewers hate the same things I ...more
Feb 10, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction

I think Connie Willis did a great job at portraying something so absolutely horrible that it defies comprehension. I had read about the plague that almost eradicated Europe, but nothing could prepare me for what I read here. The horrors of the Black Death seem to be something so far beyond anything we could imagine.. I found myself cringing and pleading: "she's not going to go there... she's not going to go there.. so when she's devastating.

The feeling of abandonment that these peopl
MINI REVIEW: this book won a Hugo and Nebula for 1992 and a host of other awards. It's a nod to the historical “Domesday Book” of 1086 and focuses upon a futuristic society sending some of its people back into the past to Oxford, England but an error puts the main character into that area during the Black Plague. Note that while they are sending people out that said society has their own plague epidemic taking place.

The strengths of this novel are its attention to Historical details, the engagi
Even though Connie Willis' 1992 Doomsday Book won both the Hugo and the Nebula awards and that many readers therefore do consider it mostly science fiction and fantasy, my personal reaction when I originally read Doomsday Book in 1998 (right after having finished with my PhD dissertation, and yes, as a bit of a treat and reward for myself for finally being done) was (and yes indeed also remains) that frankly, I consider Doomsday Book more a time-travel novel of historical fiction, set in the fut ...more
(Original review date: 11 May 2009)

Doomsday Book has a wonderful concept, but I have never in my life read another book with such infuriatingly rotten pacing. This is a six-hundred-page book where NOTHING HAPPENS for the first four hundred pages. The last two hundred pages are sublime, but I can't bring myself to raise the rating any higher than three stars.

In the first four hundred pages, we meet Kivrin, a young history undergraduate at Oxford in the near future. The development of time travel
Jan 22, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Why I hated this book by Marc.

I read a lot. The number of books I list on my read list here is a fraction of what I read. And for the most part, none have reviews, just ratings, because I have little time to write reviews. But I just had to comment on "The Doomsday Book". I fell into a trap. I read reviews of the book before I bought it, and those reviews help convince me to give it a try. That is something I usually do not do. I usually read the back cover, and if it sounds good, I buy it. But

It won the Hugo and Nebula awards, and if there were an award for most repetitious, Doomsday Book would have won that too. Its premise is a great one, and the story is straightforward and intriguing, but Doomsday Book could easily have been half as many pages with no harm to the story. For almost the entirety of the book, Willis repeatedly detailed a main character’s struggles to extract vital information from another character; at least a dozen times hammered home that the Blac
Oct 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I so wanted to like/feel this more, but couldn't get past the intentionally fuddled handling. Rated up, regardless - for well-intended aspirations.

I've been both eager and hesitant to (re-)engage with this book for a while; it came to me highly praised, and I came to it wanting to be touched by that apparent, profound admiration inducing experience. Yet, previous encounters with Willis have left me dubious of if I'd ever be fully enamored by their particular style. Making this more of an examina
Following my abject failure with noir wizards, I'm retreating to an audiobook that seems to contain everything I like: lady-protagonists, time travel, semi-distant British history, and plague. Loads of plague.


(Gen up on the plot before you read this one: it's not very spoilery, but I'm going to dive right in and assume you know roughly the premise from the start.)

I've been wondering how to approach this review for ages. Looking at what other people have written, it seems that the g
Kivrin Engle, a historian at Oxford University in 2054, has insisted on being allowed to time travel to medieval England, and has almost single-handedly forced it to happen despite plenty of objections from her mentor, Mr Dunworthy, who can all-too-graphically imagine every horrible thing that could possibly happen to a young woman alone in the year 1320. But the present isn’t always so safe, either. The story moves back and forth between Kivrin and Mr Dunworthy as the events in each timeline
Kaethe Douglas

I was waiting to pick up a prescription, and I finished the book I was reading. I broke out my Kindle, thinking I'd read something on it, at least one of the samples. But what I really wanted to read was All Clear. But then I thought I'd better reread Blackout since it's been six months or more. And then, when I started Blackout I saw Colin mentioned from the Doomsday Book, so I downloaded that to start with. So, the two re-reads followed by the new book should keep me busy.

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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

Other books in the series

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

Articles featuring this book

Science fiction and fantasy have spawned some of the most imaginative plots and settings in existence. Makes sense, given that these genres are...
257 likes · 102 comments
“I wanted to come, and if I hadn’t, they would have been all alone, and nobody would have ever known how frightened and brave and irreplaceable they were.” 41 likes
“None of the things one frets about ever happen. Something one's never thought of does.” 13 likes
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