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Blackout (All Clear #1)

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  16,710 Ratings  ·  2,723 Reviews
Oxford in 2060 is a chaotic place, with scores of time-traveling historians being sent into the past. Michael Davies is prepping to go to Pearl Harbor. Merope Ward is coping with a bunch of bratty 1940 evacuees and trying to talk her thesis adviser into letting her go to VE-Day. Polly Churchill’s next assignment will be as a shopgirl in the middle of London’s Blitz. But no ...more
Paperback, 491 pages
Published September 14th 2010 by Spectra
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David Tate A recurring theme in Connie Willis's work is the confusing chaos of everyday life -- things go wrong, people get confused, plans go awry, frustration…moreA recurring theme in Connie Willis's work is the confusing chaos of everyday life -- things go wrong, people get confused, plans go awry, frustration is a big part of life. Without getting into spoilers, I would say that in the end there is a better payoff and explanation for all of the frustration than in many of Ms. Willis's works.(less)
Trevor McGuire This is not an answer, but more of a complaint about the same thing. My physical copy says nothing about only being half a book. I fully support…moreThis is not an answer, but more of a complaint about the same thing. My physical copy says nothing about only being half a book. I fully support series of books, but let the reader know ahead of time, and make the books self-contained. I will not be reading All Clear because I frankly don't care about what happens.(less)

Community Reviews

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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 durin
Sep 19, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
UGH i dunno guys. I know it won the Hugo but I'm ok to have a differing opinion, right? I will definitely give credit, the book is IMPECCABLY researched. So much time and detail into WWII England, just...bravo for the research ALONE it deserved an award.

But I mean, bar none, this book does NOT feel like a stand-alone. From my investigations the publisher split the plot in two, and it's so clunky with the ending it shows. The book could TOTALLY have stood an edit pass that took out tomes of unnec
Jan 28, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Sometimes, if it takes you 10 years to write a book, you just shouldn't. Willis has a writing tick that absolutely annoys me, but in the past, I've been able to mainly ignore it because the storylines have been good. But her annoying writing tick overwhelms any story that was to be had in this book. The tick I'm speaking of is her tendency to talk about every mundane humdrum thing and to catch up every personality-less character that walks in the room concerning these mundane humdrum things. In ...more
Althea Ann
Sep 14, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Blackout/All Clear.

The two books are really one novel (thanks, publishers, for getting me to pay double!) so there's no reason to talk about them separately.

They're also part of Willis' time travel series, although they're not advertised as such. I really wouldn't recommend starting with these books; I feel that a lot of the questions and criticism of these books that I see in other reviews stems from the likelihood that readers haven't read the other books in the series: The Doomsday Book, To S
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lisa Vegan
Nov 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who enjoys historical fiction or speculative fiction & time travel books
A warning: This book has no proper ending. It was meant to be the first half of a book but the publisher divided it into two books and Blackout is the first half. All Clear is the second book/second half of the book. Definitely have All Clear on hand to read immediately after this book. I finished this book and started the next the same day and that’s the way to do it. I deliberately read this slowly so there wouldn’t be a gap before I could read the next book.

I was completely enthralled! This b

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
Ben Babcock
Time travel is a sexy science-fiction trope. It's right up there with faster-than-light travel (the two are, in fact, inextricably related, and chances are you if you invent one then you'll have invented both) as something that, as far as our current understanding of the universe works, is impossible. There are some fascinating loopholes involving wormholes and general relativity, but in order to get it working you need metric shit-joules of energy and something called exotic matter, and it woul ...more
Tim Hicks
I have a very short list of authors whose work I eagerly await. Connie Willis just stepped off that list with this turkey. This book cuts off abruptly with a promo for the second book, but if it had been decently edited the whole mess would have fit in one volume.

Three incompetent characters are dropped into WW2 London by obviously incompetent staffers. Before they even left I was thinking that I wouldn't let these dingbats put me on a bus, much less a time machine.

These folks are supposed to
Stephanie Swint
Jun 28, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Connie Willis created a beautiful piece of time travel/historical fiction with 'Blackout.' Depending on how you want to look at this book it is either the first book in the All Clear series or the third installment of the Oxford Time Travel series. 'Blackout' includes characters from 'The Doomsday Book' with Colin Templar and Mr. Dunworthy. They are not the stars of this double-decker novel but they do play very important roles. 'Blackout' revolves around three historians from the future sent to ...more
Megan Baxter
Dec 31, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am, in general, a big fan of Connie Willis. Not every book has struck me exactly right, but I do enjoy them. And this series of time travel books tend to be enjoyable, although they vary wildly, from a door-slamming farce to wrench-your-heart-out, leave-you-in-tears Black Death Romps. So I was excited to start the first of two books that won the Hugo a few years ago.

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the recent changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why
Dec 02, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love Willis' novels, with time-travelling anthropologists getting into all kinds of mischief in their historical setting, complicated by love and feelings of responsibility, I'd have given it 5 stars if she hadn't forced me to wait six months for the second half of the story...
May 25, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Chrissie by: Lisa Vegan
After 1 hour and forty minutes of the audiobook:

I am a person stuck firmly in reality. I knew when I started this that it was a time-travel book. I figured I could ignore this aspect, but this is proving much harder than I expected. I am having huge problems. All this about slipping into drop sites, about language implants, divergent points and slippage. It is hard to ignore SO much detail. I feel like I have been dropped into a movie, with people dashing around right and left. The setting is s
Jul 23, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The hype of Connie Willis Blackout fell short. The story sets place in Oxford 2060 and World War II England. This was my first Willis novel and perhaps some of my complaints are due to my lack of knowledge in her description of time travel. I am not clear as to why Dumbledore Mr Dunworthy is frantically sending his 20something historians out to observe WWII England in such a chaotic and disorganized fashion. Their assignments durations and details tend to change abruptly and for no clear cut rea ...more
2016 July 14
I love these books so much. Stories about women in wartime are catnip to me. But this book, in which the daily struggle to keep calm and carry on is so hard for Britons: it gives me all the feels, but also hope for humanity.
2013 January 1
2010 March 14

It was everything I could do not to start this so far ahead of its proper turn in the stack. Just saying.


My, what a big book. But such an enormous pleasure. Much of the time, after turning the last page on a 500 page book, and discove
Jamie Collins
October update: Bump from 4 to 5 stars, when read along with the next book, All Clear.

Typically good writing from Connie Willis, and a riveting story - or half of a riveting story, at least. This is the first half of a long novel, and seems chopped off rather than deliberately crafted to be the first volume of a duology. I look forward to the next book, and I almost wish I had waited to read this one until it was available.

The rushed and disorganized Oxford historians of the future with their t
Oh, I'm such a liar. This wasn't three stars, it was two. While I love some of Connie's other works, this one doesn't work for me. Logically inept, grossly meandering and strongly in need of some editing. While I liked pieces of the storyline, as a whole it lacked enough coherence to be enjoyable.
More in the line of Doomsday Book. History students from 2060 Oxford pursue their studies through time travel, this time to the blitz.

I would be so bad at time travel. Willis has this incredibly busy, fussy, flustered style, all run to the lab! three overlapping conversations! run to the library! get a form signed! Time travel! Bombs falling! Missing lipstick! It can be very funny in places, and incredibly evocative of Oxford academia in particular (I should know, though for fuck’s sake, we had
I know I said I was going to try Connie Willis’ work again. I know I was even going to try To Say Nothing Of the Dog. And I know that I did quite like Doomsday Book, and definitely liked some of her short stories. But I just keep bouncing off, and okay, maybe it’s a case of “it’s not you, it’s me”, but that doesn’t mean I need to keep hitting my head against it, right?

See, the historical content is interesting. If you accept the fact that communication is difficult because her future Oxford has
Apr 22, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ladies-writin
These books stress me out so badly. Everyone is forever running around interrupting each other & talking over one another & no one knows what the hell is going on & no one knows where Mr. Dunworthy is - ever - goddammit, & then they head back in time anyway & of course everything is all f'ed up. B swears that All Clear is really good & I adore reading about the Blitz, but I swear, if there's anymore standing around in a department stores chatting about what we've all been ...more
Jun 25, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
These characters are so stupid.

So let's get this straight. These are supposed to be time-traveling historians. From Oxford, no less. And at least one out of the three main characters is supposed to be a "seasoned" time traveler. And yet, as I was reading this, I was baffled time and again by their utter lack of knowledge on the time period to which they were traveling. Wouldn't you do some research first? And by some, I mean months and months. And months. And you're supposed to be a HISTORIA
Feb 01, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jon by: Jamie Collins
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
I can't do it anymore. I made it to page 250, but I can't read another page. I just can't do it - I refuse to subject myself to its badness anymore. Why should I? Why should I torture myself?!

This book is bad. That it won the Hugo and Nebula awards straight up blows my mind. KERPOWWWW my brains are mush. It'd be like if Transformers 3 had won the Oscar for Best Picture or if Kermit the Frog was elected president of the United States.

You know all that mundane, boring stuff that never gets shown i
Joe Valdez
Nov 22, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
Colin is upset. It's 2060 and the lad skips class to search the Oxford campus desperately for Mr. Dunsworthy. The porter, Mr. Purdy, tells Colin that the professor is in research. The professor's secretary Eddritch is much more closed lipped, but when Colin tries the lab, the director Badri and the tech Linna are far too busy sending researchers through time.

At least, they're supposed to be doing this. Schedules are being reshuffled at the last minute, you see. Michael has trained to be sent ba
Sherwood Smith
I waited a full year to read this, after having heard that it ends on an abrupt cliff hanger. I finished it last night, and tonight will begin the next.

The surface plot is a difficult one, or challenging: basically, a number of people running around trying to find one another, or to get to their drop. Three of them are caught in England in 1940, as the Blitz and the V rocket bombings began. The driving mechanism is appearing slowly, only acknowledged at the very end of this one (this isn't a spo
I'm already planning to put this on the "hours I will never get back" shelf. Crazy thing is that I will finish it and probably listen to the second book, because it only costs one Audible credit and it's better than a punch in the throat for the 2 hours each day I commute. Were this not set in a historical time and place of which I cannot get enough, I'd have canned it long ago. The main characters are whining douches from the future. The "contemps" as they call the Londoners of 1940 are resolut ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 26, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review originally appeared on

Let me start you out with a warning that I wish I had gotten before I started reading Connie Willis's latest: Blackout is half a novel. Not part one of a two-parter; literally the first half of a novel whose concluding half, All Clear, will not be available until mid-October 2010. So if you're one of those crazy readers who actually likes an ending for your novels, you might want to wait until All Clear is released and buy them both together. T
Dec 04, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I started out loving this book -- all of the details about WWII, the London Blitz, the evacuation at Dunkirk. But at a certain point, I wanted things to really take a darker, more terrifying turn. I wanted to start seeing some very real evidence that history had, in fact, been changed. And I wanted the characters to STOP whining about finding their drop. Mike should've been doing everything possible to AVOID his drop until he could figure out how the tide of the war had changed and whether he wa ...more
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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
More about Connie Willis...

Other Books in the Series

All Clear (3 books)
  • All Clear (All Clear, #2)
  • Blitz: L'intégrale (Blitz #1-2)

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“I’m not studying the heroes who lead navies—and armies—and win wars. I’m studying ordinary people who you wouldn’t expect to be heroic, but who, when there’s a crisis, show extraordinary bravery and self-sacrifice. Like Jenna Geidel, who gave her life vaccinating people during the Pandemic. And the fishermen and retired boat owners and weekend sailors who rescued the British Army from Dunkirk. And Wells Crowther, the twenty-four-year-old equities trader who worked in the World Trade Center. When it was hit by terrorists, he could have gotten out, but instead he went back and saved ten people, and died. I’m going to observe six different sets of heroes in six different situations to try to determine what qualities they have in common.” 15 likes
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