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Fire Watch

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  3,910 ratings  ·  278 reviews
Winner of six Nebula and five Hugo awards, Connie Willis is one of the most acclaimed and imaginative authors of our time. Her startling and powerful works have redefined the boundaries of contemporary science fiction. Here in one volume are twelve of her greatest stories, including double award-winner "Fire Watch," set in the universe of Doomsday Book and To Say Nothing o ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published April 1998 by Bantam Spectra (first published February 1985)
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Average rating 3.86  · 
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 ·  3,910 ratings  ·  278 reviews


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RJ from the LBC
Short story collection contains these stories, along with my rating for each and some song lyrics that may or may not be insightful or amusing:

Fire Watch - 3/5 - and the man in the back is ready to crack as he raises his hands to the sky
Service for the Burial of the Dead - 3/5 - love and life are deep
Lost and Found - 3/5 - let's tell the world we're in that crazy mood
All My Darling Daughters - 3/5 - I just wanna have some kicks, I just wanna get some chicks
The Father of the Bride - 2/5 - behind
...more
Clouds
The last story, Blued Moon is the star - very much in the same vein as To Say Nothing of the Dog (my favourite Willis novel). It's a sparkling celebration of coincidences and technical jargon. The kind of story that makes me want to shout, "Yes, Connie! Yes! Write more stories like this!"

As with all short story collections it's a mixed bag. Despite kicking off Willis' superb time-travel series (which I love), I was surprised that the title story, Fire Watch didn't do all that much for me.
All My
...more
Sarah
Nov 26, 2010 rated it really liked it
I decided to finally read this, the first of Connie Willis's books about a group of hapless time-traveling historians. I picked today because my library copy of her new book, All Clear, is very large and heavy and impractical to haul around New York on my back along with two dozen bagels, which is impractical enough on its own. I had expected that she might have given some background in this first novella that I had been missing ever since, but I should have known better. She tells us what we ne ...more
Beth
This collection contains 12 stories.

The title story, "Fire Watch" is a bittersweet tale set in the same universe as Doomsday Book and To Say Nothing of the Dog, but written earlier. It was published in 1982, and won the 1983 Hugo & Nebula Awards for Best Short Story. The narrator is a time-traveling grad student from a future Oxford University, who is sent to the London Blitz due to a clerical error. (He was supposed to travel with St Paul for his practical exam, but instead ends up assigned to
...more
Ron
Mar 05, 2011 rated it liked it
Good work. Not quite a four, but it was her first Oxford Time travel story and one of her first. A straight, clear, hit-you-in-the-solar-plexus kind of tale.

References to Kivrin's Doomsday Book adventures are especially interesting as the novella Fire Watch was written almost a decade before Doomsday Book.
...more
Nicky
I just read the title story, not the whole collection. I've been meaning to read Connie Willis' stuff for a long time, since several friends in one of my groups are very enthusiastic about her work. Fire Watch was easy and fun to read -- available online, here, by the way. You get thrown in at the deep end a bit at the beginning: it helped me to know that it was a story about a history student going back in time as part of their studies. But it was very readable, and reasonably easy to catch on ...more
G33z3r
Connie Willis has a wonderful writing style, engrossing prose and a wonderful sense of detail and character. Whether she's writing science fiction or a ghost story, it's always the human element she explores.

"Fire Watch" is the most significant of the stories in this collection, mostly because it precedes the multi-award-winning "Oxford time travelers" novels (Doomsday Book, To Say Nothing of the Dog, Blackout and All Clear). Nonetheless, most of the other stories are almost as engrossing.
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Kogiopsis
Oct 20, 2015 rated it liked it
After reading the titular novella of this book, I was sure it would be five stars all the way through... but, not surprisingly as this goes with the territory for short story collections, it was a variety of hits and misses. The first and last stories stand out: "Fire Watch" is a breathtakingly well-constructed narrative that withholds just the right amount of information, giving the reader glimpses at a future world through the protagonist's interactions with the past. Of all the stories in thi ...more
Ian G
Sep 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, favorites
4.3 ⭐

I first read this many years ago, though I did not remember that. The best stories: the eponymous ' Fire Watch ,' ' Daisy in the Sun,' 'A Letter From the Cleary's,' 'And Come from Miles Around have all been anthologized several times (mostly being Hugo and Nebula winners or nominees.)

Many of the lesser stories in the collection were forgettable and, indeed, forgotten. It wasn't until I reread the introductions that I realized I had, in fact, been here before.
But it's worth the return trip.
...more
Meredith
Mar 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars rounded up, due to Fire Watch and a couple others. You can see elements in these stories of the style Willis has honed and improved over time.
Elizabeth
May 09, 2020 marked it as didnt-finish-didnt-start  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Thought it was part of the Oxford time travel series but it’s not really. The first short story was kind of but the next was like a ghost story. So I’m just going to move on.
Векослав Стефановски
I have already read some of these stories, but it was very nice to re-read them. Connie Willis is a master of storybuilding, and while, the longer stories are much better than the short ones, some of the short ones do pack a punch.

I liked best "A letter from the Clearys" and "All my darling daughters", two very uncomfortable stories, that will stay with me for a while, and "Blued moon" was very, very fun to read. I also can add that the titular story, while very good, is not the best I've seen f
...more
Stewart
Apr 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
This is a 1998 reissue of a 1985 collection of short stories by Connie Willis who has won six Nebula and five Hugo awards for her sci-fi fiction. Her "Doomsday Book" of 1992 was one of the best science fiction novels I've ever read. There are a number of interesting stories among the 12 in the book, including the title story, a precursor to "Doomsday Book." "Blued Moon" is a humorous look at language and coincidence, and "A Letter from the Clearys" is a story that slowly transforms itself from ...more
Debra
How had I missed knowing about this book? I am most of the way through Fire Watch, the first story, and have put down my Kindle because I don't want my fictional world to end. (Well, the Blitz can end - let say not even start, but I want the Historians to stay around.) Why did it take so long to read this book? I read the stories around library books. The time involved is not a quality indicator.

What a wonderful and varied collection from this marvelous author. Fire Watch, the historian story, o
...more
Laura
Oct 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
so like one night my partner-in-crime said this author would be the person he'd trade me in for and I was all offended UNTIL I READ THIS BOOK and now I'm all "Oh, I get it now."
Deb
Jun 16, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
I really enjoyed most of these short stories, but there's one I strongly dislike-- "All My Darling Daughters." I would say definitely skip that one. It's gross. Otherwise, these are clever. I like how Willis gives a little origin-of-the-idea description before each story. I'm definitely a fan of Willis and look forward to reading more of her work.

It took me a while to read this one because I used the stories as rewards. I read a hundred pages of a difficult book and then allowed myself to read o
...more
Nicole
The last story in this collection ("Blued Moon") is my favorite of the lot. It has coincidences and misunderstandings, and is just generally a lot of fun. (And to reference the intro to the story: yes, she makes it look easy.)

I also particularly enjoyed a few of the others, mostly "And Come From Miles Around" and "A Letter From the Clearys." It's a typical short story collection in that everyone will like different stories to different degrees, and I didn't enjoy all of the stories equally.

Overa
...more
Bish Denham
Jun 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: scifi-fantasy
A nice collection of short stories by an excellent writer. I remember reading Blued Moon when it came out in Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine way back in 1984. I had a subscription. Kind of wish I had that magazine now.

Tasula
Dec 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
I love this author's works, and this one was very good. It is a collection of mostly REALLY sad stories, mostly post-apocalyptic, but ends with a story in the vein of To Say Nothing of the Dog light and amusing. ...more
Melanie
Dec 28, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Connie Willis is brilliant. I have to say, I didn't really like the short story "Fire Watch," whose title became the title for the collection. It was okay, but I felt like you really had to read Doomsday Book beforehand to appreciate the way Kivrin kept coming up, and I dunno--it was just dark and dirty in a basement bomb-shelter kind of way, like the bottom of St. Paul's during the bombings kind of way, and long and drawn-out. Maybe Willis was doing that on purpose. However, I liked almost all ...more
Karen
Apr 10, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was introduced to this author through a friend of mine and found that I enjoyed the universe so when I found out that "Fire Watch" was the first story ever written in this universe I thought I'd start off right and get to know the rest of the stories. I did not realize that "Fire Watch" was actually just a short story and that this book is a collection of short stories, of which "Fire Watch" was the only one set in the universe of time-traveling historians. The rest are an odd collection rangi ...more
Julie
Feb 15, 2010 rated it really liked it
Another collection of short stories by Connie Willis. Looks like the main story, "Fire Watch", takes place after Doomsday Book. And I suspect in the same world as another story of hers I read which I can't immediately recall. Anyway, time travel, the Blitz, saving a church. Themes that crop up in other stories of hers.

Oh yea, one other theme I forgot to mention in my review of another collection of hers: academic bureaucracy.

I don't think any of the stories in here particularly stood out for me.
...more
Craig
Sep 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Fire Watch is an excellent collection of stories and showcases what a wide range of styles Willis masters. Blued Moon, Daisy, in the Sun, A Letter From the Clearys, and All My Darling Daughters are especially good. The title story is the first piece of the Oxford Time Travel series, and I just re-read it after having recently finished Blackout/All Clear. I was amazed at how well the events in a story published almost thirty years earlier had been woven in to the newer novel from a different pers ...more
David
Aug 30, 2012 rated it liked it


I have enjoyed several of Connie Willis' novels and this collection of short stories had 'Blued Moon', a light hearted short I've always liked. Unfortunately, it and 'Fire Watch' are the only two stories I really enjoyed in this book. Several stories were disturbing, frankly. 'Blued Moon' is fun and 'Fire Watch' is also good, but for it you might be better off if you have read 'the Doomsday Book' and understand her time travel setting. A short story doesn't give much room to explain it.
Jessica
Dec 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
Willis is an author that never ceases to delight me, but for reasons unknown I've yet to go on one of those tears where I devour everything she's written and then wait rather less than patiently for her to write some more. The upshot of this oversight is then getting to fall over gems like this collection, which is a fine example of what can happen with intriguing two-sentence premises in the capable hands of a gifted writer.
Steph
Jul 17, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: teens and older
A collection of fantasy short stories by Connie Willis. One is set in the same world as 'To Say Nothing of the Dog' and 'Doomsday Book' but the rest are entirely different. Some I liked a lot (especially the last one), others less so, therefore I gave it only 3 stars. ...more
Larry
Aug 01, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
To say the least, I was disappointed. I read the first short story in this collection, the title work, for its affinity with the Blackout series. It was OK. As I read further I became less and less pleased with the stories. A few were OK, a few were really terrible. I even skipped one. I didn't find this collection up to the author's standards.
Lynette Caulkins
I quite enjoy Willis's novels of time travel, so I was interested in this anthology of short stories by her. Some are terrific, others are somewhat trippy considerations of dystopian situations. Not my favorite book, but certainly not a waste of time.
Barbm1020
Sep 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful stories, always taut with suspense, Connie Willis's unique stamp all over them. This book still haunts my notion of World War II.
Kaethe Douglas
Jul 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, scifi
Willis is one of the finest storytellers ever. She can pack a hell of a lot into a tight little story.
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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
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