Time Travel discussion

Doomsday Book (Oxford Time Travel, #1)
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Book Club Discussions > DOOMSDAY BOOK: General Discussion

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message 1: by Tej (last edited Jun 01, 2013 03:27PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tej (theycallmemrglass) | 1725 comments Mod
This month's group read winner is Doomsday Book by Connie Willis. Connie has written several time travel novels and indeed, this is the first time we will have read two time travel books from the same author in our monthly group reads. The first was To Say Nothing of the Dog, read way back in December 2011.

Please use the SPOILER TAGS if you need to discuss any spoilers throughout this group read.


Synopsis

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 would be received.

But a crisis strangely linking past and future strands Kivrin in a bygone age as her fellows try desperately to rescue her. In a time of superstition and fear, Kivrin -- barely of age herself -- finds she has become an unlikely angel of hope during one of history's darkest hours.


About the Author

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 Fiction Writers of America (SFWA).

You can read more about this well decorated science fiction author on her GR Profile page here:

Connie Willis Connie Willis



Where to Purchase

Where to Purchase

In paperback:
Click here for Amazon.com ($7.19)
Click here for Barnes&Noble ($7.99)

Ebook:
Click here for Amazon Kindle ($9.06)
Click here for NOOK ebook ($7.99)


message 2: by Tej (last edited Jun 01, 2013 04:20PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tej (theycallmemrglass) | 1725 comments Mod
We'll kick off discussions by talking about the author while we put in our orders for our paperback or get stuck in the first few chapters. Unfortunately I missed out on the month we read her other time travel book and I know for sure more than half of you did too as were not members yet ;)

PRE-READ DISCUSSION QUESTION 1: Connie Willis is a prolific science fiction writer. Have you read other works by her (or indeed, this book)? If so, do you enjoy her work? Is there a pattern to her narrative? If it was a time travel novel, do you think she has any inclination towards giving hard science towards explaining time travel?


Harv Griffin | 66 comments Just bought a used paperback copy of DOOMSDAY BOOK by Connie Willis at Amazon for a penny + shipping = four bucks. Maybe by the time the book arrives, I will have finished AN EXTENDED JOURNEY by Paul Sherman.

What? You sayin' I'm a slow reader?!

@hg47


message 4: by Bill (new)

Bill Cleary | 66 comments I read "Blackout" and then made it through half of "All Clear" before giving it a break. I love the details of historical events. While I understand that she wanted to present the characters' experiences in detail for the reader to fully appreciate the plight of the English during those times, I found it very repetitive and frustrating that every single thing that the characters tried to do (catch a train, walk 2 blocks, meet up with someone) led to extreme complications. It became predictable. The time travel was science, but vague( that didn't matter). I'm tempted to jump to the ending of "All Clear," but have never done that before. I'd appreciate anyone's opinion on whether it would be worth it to continue.


Natalie (bartlebead) | 18 comments I absolutely love "Doomsday Book." I've read most of her work, if not all, and I feel this one is not only wonderfully written and historically true-to-life, but also profound. "To Say Nothing of the Dog" is fun. "Blackout"/"All Clear" – which, Willis says, were intended to be one book – is too complicated, perhaps too ambitious, in its twists and turns and meetings/near meetings/misses of the numerous characters; it nonetheless brings to life the atmosphere of the time. Willis does great things with history. The science is ambiguous, but seems internally consistent among the books in the series.


message 6: by Tej (last edited Jun 02, 2013 01:36AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tej (theycallmemrglass) | 1725 comments Mod
This book is actually the first full length novel in a series of 4 books and 1 short short story called:

The Oxford Time Travel Series

They share the same universe and feature re-occuring characters. Blackout and All Clear should be read as one book.

The short story was first to be written and can be read for free here:

http://www.infinityplus.co.uk/stories...

To learn more about this universe and the books, click here:

http://azsf.net/cwblog/?page_id=49

Books In chronicle order: (though I believe can be read in any order except Blackout and All Clear must be read as one book in that order)

Fire Watch by Connie Willis Fire Watch
Doomsday Book by Connie Willis Doomsday Book
To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis To Say Nothing of the Dog
Blackout by Connie Willis Blackout
All Clear by Connie Willis All Clear


message 7: by Michael (new) - added it

Michael (michaeljsullivan) | 70 comments This is my first time reading this author. I've seen her speak at a few conferences (and she is very entertaining). Looking forward to it.


Glynn | 235 comments Bill wrote: "I read "Blackout" and then made it through half of "All Clear" before giving it a break. I love the details of historical events. While I understand that she wanted to present the characters' exper..."

I did the same as you. I read Blackout and hated it but I thought maybe it would get better with the next book. I got about 1/3 of the way through All Clear then gave it up. The whole thing was ridiculous and idiotically repetitive. In my opinion it isn't worth the time.


message 9: by Michael (new) - added it

Michael (michaeljsullivan) | 70 comments @Glynn - sorry to hear that. Never a good thing when you read a book that doesn't quite "work for you." Here's to hoping you'll find something better next time.


Corrie (corbear) | 36 comments I read To Say Nothing of the Dog several years ago, and it is probably my favorite time travel book ever, and certainly one of my all-time favorites as well. Not too long after reading it, I quickly ran out and got Doomsday Book, as I had heard such good things about it. And I was completely underwhelmed. This book is 400 pages of people running around with no real purpose. It is beyond frustrating. By the time the story gets going during the last third of the book, I had pretty much checked out. I am not sure how this book won both the Hugo and Nebula, as it just seemed boring and pointless to me.


Debbie | 84 comments Hooray! I used an audible.com credit to get Doomsday Book!


message 12: by Amy, Queen of Time (new) - rated it 5 stars

Amy | 2210 comments Mod
I did enjoy this book the first time around, but I don't want to wade through the endless toilet paper scenes again in a re-read. I'm so "totally over" Connie Willis and her characters who "run around with no real purpose" (like Corrie mentioned). I think I'll sit back and watch the fireworks instead of re-reading.


Heather(Gibby) (heather-gibby) | 426 comments I own several of Connie Willis's books, but I have not read any of them yet, but I have really wanted to, so I am so glad this got picked as our book to read this month, so i can finally read one!


message 14: by E.B. (new)

E.B. Brown (ebbrown) | 320 comments Harv wrote: "Just bought a used paperback copy of DOOMSDAY BOOK by Connie Willis at Amazon for a penny + shipping = four bucks. Maybe by the time the book arrives, I will have finished AN EXTENDED JOURNEY by P..."

I'll join you on that. I've turned into a slow reader lately. We'll wade through together, Harv. ;)


message 15: by E.B. (new)

E.B. Brown (ebbrown) | 320 comments Amy wrote: "I did enjoy this book the first time around, but I don't want to wade through the endless toilet paper scenes again in a re-read. I'm so "totally over" Connie Willis and her characters who "run aro..."

toilet paper? Uh oh.


message 16: by Tej (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tej (theycallmemrglass) | 1725 comments Mod
Ok, the toilet paper sounds like a daunting prospect but note that Amy did give the book 5 stars despite her toilet paper comment!

So, Doomsday and toilet paper...hmmm, I'm intrigued with the connection...

Still yet to finish EB's book...nearly there!


message 17: by Suzi (new) - rated it 4 stars

Suzi | 36 comments I read Doomsday book about 2006, so don't think I'll get in on the discussion this month (details too fuzzy). I have read all of the Oxford Time Travel Series (and many of Connie's other books). I first read To Say Nothing of the Dog and loved it so much I read as many others of hers as I could find. The Oxford Time Travel books are all very long and detailed. You have to be ready to invest in them.
Someone asked about skipping to the end of All Clear. I think that Connie's books are too interwoven to do that. I have found myself skimming some of the very descriptive paragraphs/chapters, but I would never skip one.
I have never been much for historical fiction, but these books have kept my interest, and I learned about periods of history that I would never have picked up a book to read about on purpose. :)


Natalie (bartlebead) | 18 comments Suzi wrote: "I read Doomsday book about 2006, so don't think I'll get in on the discussion this month (details too fuzzy). I have read all of the Oxford Time Travel Series (and many of Connie's other books). I ..."

I read To Say Nothing of the Dog first too, and had the same response. I was fortunate to get to meet Connie Willis at the last World Con and attend a panel with her and Robert Silverberg. Loved it.

I did find Blackout/All Clear too convoluted to be completely successful, but there was enough in it that I enjoyed it nonetheless!


Angela | 3 comments I've just read Fire Watch and only gave it 2 stars. I found it pretty dull really and I was glad it was just a short novella. It's not something I'll ever re-read.
Back to Doomsday Book, which I'm enjoying far more!


Diana Gotsch | 15 comments I am a big fan of Connie Willis. I had most of her other books before I tried Doomsday Book. Because of its length and subject I couldn't bring my self to read it. When I finely did it became one of my favorites.

Really like some of her short stories. Even the Queen is very much a woman's story and very funny.

She has a talent for mixing humor and pathos.


message 21: by Rysa (new) - rated it 3 stars

Rysa Walker (rysawalker) | 86 comments I've read All Clear, Blackout & To Say Nothing of the Dog, in addition to Doomsday. I enjoyed them all, but have to agree that there are places where the detail clogged the storyline so badly that I had to resist the temptation (and in a few cases, *not* resist the temptation :) to flip forward to where the story looked interesting again. The only exception was To Say Nothing of the Dog. That one had enough humor mixed with the detail that I read it pretty much in one sitting -- a fun romp.

Doomsday was one where I didn't resist the temptation to flip forward. in a few places. The book is original and I did enjoy it overall, but it was also a depressing read in some ways.

I also should confess that I had the misfortune of being in the middle of the book when both kids came down with a stomach virus, so my lack of patience with bodily fluids was probably a factor in the rating here. If I could have given a half star, it would have earned a three and a half...but the fact that I was going through my own minor household plague pulled it down to a three.


message 22: by Andy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Andy Taylor (sooguy) | 89 comments I've read To Say Nothing of the Dog many moons ago and even managed to get a copy signed by Connie Willis at a convention she was guest of honour at. I have been meaning to read Doomsday forever, but never seem to find the time (no pun intended).

I am looking forward to trying to make the time this month between the other two books I have on the go.

I find Connie Willis is an AMAZING short story writer, but have issues with her longer work.

I like time travel stories that include female travellers as they are fare and few between and offer a unique perspective since many places that time travellers go are usually more repressive than our current time.


Glenna | 7 comments I've read Doomsday, Blackout, All Clear, and To Say Nothing of the Dog and loved all four! I especially enjoyed Blackout and All Clear because teaching or learning about war was always unpleasant and boring - you know, dates, times, battles, etc., :p I actually learned (and retained!) a great deal about the war efforts as I read these books. =)

For me, that was a bit ironic given that my tastes have always tended toward sci fi novels set in the future. I think that's what I liked best about all four books. Combining historical fiction and time travel is a winning combo! :)

A few people mentioned that they felt the novel slowed too much, in parts, because of the attention to detail, but for me it was just the opposite. The more detail, the better. When I read book reviews, I actually check out the "one star" ones to see if anyone is saying that the book was too boring because of minutiae that the author includes. I take that as a "plus" on my list. ;)


message 24: by Andy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Andy Taylor (sooguy) | 89 comments Glenna, I know what you mean about details. I think I appreciate a good time travel novel when the author is good at blending enough details to make the time period come alive. Enough detail to make me believe the characters are actually there.

One of my tests of a good time travel novel is that it should evoke the time period in a way that it makes me the author actually FEEL the period as if I had experienced it first hand. One way to do that is through carefully chosen minutiae that only a person living in that period would actually know.

Obviously Jack Finney does this to great effect in "Time and Again" when his character Simon Morley goes back to 1880s New York.

Also I loved the detail Judith Tarr put in her story Household Gods. Household Gods by Judith Tarr which took us back to Roman times.

Anyhow I can't wait to get into Doomsday. Must crack that tonight!


message 25: by Bill (new)

Bill Cleary | 66 comments Glenna, my previous criticism of Willis was not about the detail of the history, I love that, as I did in Time and Again. My beef was the story, the constant repetition of nothing ever going right, and the character's constant thoughts, over and over, about what had gone wrong, or if they'd changed history. This even though she kept saying it couldn't happen. All of this frustrated me and detracted from my enjoyment of the story. I quit halfway through All Clear. The first book I'd ever given up on.


Glenna | 7 comments Hi Bill; I hadn't read your comment when I posted my last remarks. I'd just scrolled up through some of the more recent comments and saw a few about the author's use of detail. My personal preference is for description and exposition over action so I usually look for novels that include a lot of the former with some of the latter thrown in as spice. I find that I am often in the minority about that. ;)

I read Willis' novels some time back so instances illustrating what you are talking about do not come to mind as much as the historical components. =)


message 27: by Bill (new)

Bill Cleary | 66 comments Oh, I read "To Say Nothing of the Dog" to take s break between the aforementioned books, I enjoyed it a lot,


message 28: by Tej (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tej (theycallmemrglass) | 1725 comments Mod
There is certainly a balance to strike when detailing the environment and surroundings without dragging the story to a halt. Perhaps the key is not to stop the story and describe the environment but to integrate the details with the characters and story. I dont know but there is an art to it.

And I think from reading the first two chapters, Connie Willis has that art. I can straight away appreciate the quality of her writing here. This one feels like an elite author. The first two chapters have got me hooked completely and its 600 page journey suddenly doesnt feel so daunting any more because I feel I am in good hands here. This will be my first COnnie Willis book and liking her style and pace here.

Its still early days yet though but its giving me a good feeling.


We've being discussing this next question already so just making it a formal one.

DICUSSION QUESTION 2: How would you draw the line in how much detail an author should give of characters and the environment to keep the reader engaged? Or could the question be irrelevant and its not about how much but how well written it is?




Now quite a bit is happening in this opening which already highlights differences between mediaval ages and the near future. Our main protagonist, a History time travel tutor (I think) expresses much concern about his young female student, brashly journeying to the medieval ages on her own. Fears of rapist, murderers and plagues come foremost to his mind.

The following question is inspired by a post Amy made elsewhere.

DISCUSSION QUESTION 3: As a Female would you dare travel alone to the past knowing the risks? Do you see a parallel in the risks with travelling here in the present to other countries, on your own? And would it apply to males too perhaps to a lesser extent but nevertheless still a risk to go own your own?


message 29: by Tej (last edited Jun 21, 2013 04:33AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tej (theycallmemrglass) | 1725 comments Mod
Strange how in the future, no one has a mobile phone. The book was written in 1992, surely Connie Willis would have been aware of its rising popularity at that time, no? That year I was in Uni and I remember many of us getting our very first mobile phone, a One2One Motorola M301. I remember it fondly and did not pay a very high price considering I was living on a punitive part time Burger King salary and student loan.

However, in the book, everyone has to go looking for each other on high streets, pubs, or hope they are at home or at their office desk to answer the phone. At least she has added video communication.

But that's the strange thing isnt it, all the sci fi fiction seem certain we want to see the faces of who we talk to while phoning. Our mobiles have had that facility for over a decade I think but no one really wants to use it. I know I dont. And no effort is being made to make it common on the home phone either. I dont see it being in much demand for a long time to come.

I have to admit, the wide use of mobile phones (is there anyone, apart from eldely folks in the developed world who hasnt got one?) creates a little more challenge to add suspense in thrillers set in the modern era but of course you have batteries running down, no reception, grids sabotaged etc.

Edit: I just realise Connie took 5 years to write the book though, so while mobile phones were definitely around during the 80s, she may not have picked up on how widespread it would have got by the time the book released.


Anyway, loving the book so far, I've race to the eight chapter which is pretty fast by my standards. This Connie Willis is clearly an expert in driving the narrative forward with precision flow and gradual build of suspense. Switching back and forth between protagonist at the right moments. Good stuff.


message 30: by Amy, Queen of Time (new) - rated it 5 stars

Amy | 2210 comments Mod
In the 1980s, it seemed like something you'd only ever have in your car (J.R. Ewing on Dallas). I honestly didn't know anyone who had a cellular phone until my boyfriend had one in 1997. Even so, he always limited his phone calls to under a minute so he wouldn't get charged out the wazoo for them. He was the only person I knew who had one until the early 2000s when they became more widespread. I don't know that I'd think of putting a cell phone in a novel until probably the late '90s.

But, really, I think Willis thrives on getting her characters to run around like chickens with their heads cut off trying to find each other. She does it in the Blackout series as well, having a poor schmuck run all over campus searching for a professor. I think a great interview question for her would be to ask if she has and uses a cell phone. Some people are still resistant to the idea, especially baby boomers & older. My boss and his wife refuse to get a cell phone and I had to make my dad get a pre-paid cell phone last time he drove the 1000 miles to visit us (and he was lucky to have it since his transmission went out 500 miles from home in a sketchy part of Memphis). So I wonder if Willis is just one of those who never saw the need to jump on the cell phone band wagon. After all, who wants to be able to be bothered when they don't want to be bothered. ;)


message 31: by Rysa (new) - rated it 3 stars

Rysa Walker (rysawalker) | 86 comments I have to pick up on question 3, both since I've thought about it and since my protagonist in Timebound has to do it. For me personally, it would depend very much on the era and the amount of knowledge I had about that time. There are some regions of the world where a woman traveling alone is a patently *bad* idea even today, especially a young woman. But there are some periods of time when that was almost universally true, and it seems that traveling in pairs, probably mixed gender, would be the safer bet.


message 32: by Tej (last edited Jun 22, 2013 11:38AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tej (theycallmemrglass) | 1725 comments Mod
Amy wrote: "I did enjoy this book the first time around, but I don't want to wade through the endless toilet paper scenes again in a re-read. I'm so "totally over" Connie Willis and her characters who "run aro..."

Ha, I've reached the "lavatory paper" dilemma, pretty funny.

I know where you and Corrie are coming from with the running endlessly to nowhere but for some reason I finding the headless chickens quite amusing and there is a mystery to it all that is slowly unravelling. Also the switching between protagonists keeps it fresh with a very subtle sense of humour in all this. In lesser hands this most probably would have been trying my patience but I'm enjoying the author's prose here...at least so far because you still have me in fear of where the lavatory paper will take me!

Regards to the mobile phone, sorry I forgot you guys call them cellphones so I'll try use that term from here on :)

I think I recall the fact that the cellphones had a quicker take up in UK and other parts of Europe than in the US and I think because of the smaller scale of setting up network coverage (or grids I think you call them). So that might well be another factor why Connie hadnt thought of a cellphone dominated future at the time of writing.

Totally with you on not wanting to be bothered...mobile phones sure as hell makes us prisoners in that respect! I hate that too. I am also quite notorious for not answering my phone most of the time. If its important, I expect them to leave a message or text me. If they dont, then it wasnt important! It annoys many of my colleagues/friends but they come to know me that way :)


message 33: by Amy, Queen of Time (new) - rated it 5 stars

Amy | 2210 comments Mod
Interesting stats: Less than half the people in the USA have cell phones as compared to 85% of people in the UK: http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/med.... And here's a chart of how much cell phone usage grew between 1997 and 2007: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Mob... (18% in 1997 vs 97% in the developed world in 2007).


message 34: by E.B. (new)

E.B. Brown (ebbrown) | 320 comments Tej wrote: "There is certainly a balance to strike when detailing the environment and surroundings without dragging the story to a halt. Perhaps the key is not to stop the story and describe the environment b..."

DICUSSION QUESTION 2: How would you draw the line in how much detail an author should give of characters and the environment to keep the reader engaged? Or could the question be irrelevant and its not about how much but how well written it is?

I can go either way with this. If the narrative is well written enough not to bore me, and the descriptive prose keeps the story moving forward, then I am all for it. Otherwise, I feel like it just bogs things down with details that can be fed as the story goes along.


DISCUSSION QUESTION 3: As a Female would you dare travel alone to the past knowing the risks? Do you see a parallel in the risks with travelling here in the present to other countries, on your own? And would it apply to males too perhaps to a lesser extent but nevertheless still a risk to go own your own?

Yes, I would dare to travel back in the past, knowing full well that it would be just as dangerous as traveling alone to some foreign countries in the time I'm in now. In either situation, the chance of the experience would be worth the risk for me. Now, that is not to say I would be unprepared and helpless. I think knowing/expecting danger is half the battle of dealing with it, and I say that from the perspective of someone who has been through some harrowing crap.
As for the same danger as it would apply to a man? I think a naive man who time-traveled would be in much more danger than a well-prepared, educated (and sufficiently armed) woman in the same situation. I think it's just about the level of preparation involved.


message 35: by Tej (last edited Jun 23, 2013 05:34PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tej (theycallmemrglass) | 1725 comments Mod
E.B. wrote: "Tej wrote: "There is certainly a balance to strike when detailing the environment and surroundings without dragging the story to a halt. Perhaps the key is not to stop the story and describe the e..."

Well going by your profile pic, I and no one, sure aint gonna make the mistake of crossing paths with your 6 shooter, cowgirl!

But yeah thats a good answer to Q3. Its all about making the appropriate preparations according to who you are. You could be a female, a handicap, or of a nationality/race/religion, that may equally require caution in different ways according to the destination.

My friend who is a Catholic and is married to an Irish protestant described to me when both had lived together for a while in turn at each other's hometown. Each in turn felt the sense of animosity from their partner's community and even fear of attack from the extremist. My friend toned down her nothern accent to sound more neutral and kept a low profile.

So, being female certainly requires a level of prep to certain desitnations but equally as you say, men too in other ways. The most important thing to do when travelling anywhere on Earth and in any time of history is to know the culture and levels of danger of the place you are visiting.


Teddy Al-ashari | 3 comments So Tej.......how elderly is elderly? I'm 77 & I've had a cell phone for years; text with family & friends constantly. How old is younger than elderly? LOL


message 37: by Tej (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tej (theycallmemrglass) | 1725 comments Mod
Ha it's all relative, isnt it? you are clearly savvy with tech :).


message 38: by E.B. (new)

E.B. Brown (ebbrown) | 320 comments Tej wrote: "E.B. wrote: "Tej wrote: "There is certainly a balance to strike when detailing the environment and surroundings without dragging the story to a halt. Perhaps the key is not to stop the story and d..."

Haha, it's the eyes in the back of my head that help the most. ;)


message 39: by Tej (last edited Jul 01, 2013 03:28PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tej (theycallmemrglass) | 1725 comments Mod
Well this book is meandering a bit plot-wise but nevertheless, the writing is enjoyable enough for me to keep turning the pages.

I think I get the point with Amy's toilet paper, its a deliberate re-occuring joke and has made me chuckle a few times...but I want the story to get a move on now.

SO anyway, how is every getting on with the read? It is a long read but where is everyone at?


message 40: by Harv (new) - rated it 5 stars

Harv Griffin | 66 comments Sorry. I'm so late to the DOOMSDAY BOOK party that most of the guests have gone, or are passed out on the couch, or doing something in the dark corner with each other that I'd better not mention on GoodReads. Oh, no, the Hostess is coming toward me; I'll probably get drafted for Clean-Up Duty…

Don't you hate when Real Life preempts your Quality Reading Time?

                
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Just posted a ★★★★★ Review for DOOMSDAY BOOK. It's not the Time Travel story I wanted, it's not the story I expected, it frustrated me several times in the first third, but half-way in I realized that Connie Willis owned me. Two-thirds in, I cared about the characters so much that I was already revising my list of favorite Time Travel Novels.

Tej has a point: meandering. I wanted science, Connie Willis gave me sickness. I kept wanting the story to go somewhere else; Connie kept quietly doing her own thing. Ultimately, she won me over. This novel isn't for everyone; the plot is not structured rigidly to standard formula of proven literary modes. The plot is the loose mess of real life during a disaster when people are frantic and their behavior is not entirely rational, because they are desperate. Tej (and Amy), you also have a point about the lack of cell phones in the DOOMSDAY future, but I'm willing to cut Connie Willis some slack. Remember the cell phone in LETHAL WEAPON 1? It was a heavy BIG Box Murtaugh had to lug around, and then drive to a special spot just to get reception in 1987, about the time Connie Willis was writing the first draft to DOOMSDAY BOOK. I missed the explosive growth of cell phones when I was writing the first drafts to two of my novels in the late Eighties--years later, when I had cleaned the novels up, the lack of cell phones in the plot-lines was a minor problem.

@hg47


message 41: by Tej (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tej (theycallmemrglass) | 1725 comments Mod
Oh the party guests certainly have not gone, some are still arriving and I have asked one of them to bring a crate of liquor as our stock is running low!

This is a 600 page book so the group reading time is extended as it should have been in the first place.
So plenty of time to get stuck in and finish the book, folks.



Harv, as you see me as a hostess..achh...damn my skirt got hooked on a splinter from the door...ok, here's the broom, you can start in the corner there and stay off the jelly punch for now.

Will read your review after I finished the book as you have kindly forewarned about spoilers in your review.

I certainly agree with being attached to the characters and in any genre, that is always the most important aspect, that and character bondings. But Connie also displays a classy sense of dry humour with lovely word play. The moments are only few but its just rightly spaced out to give a delightful comic relief against the more anxiety ridden backdrop.


message 42: by Rysa (new) - rated it 3 stars

Rysa Walker (rysawalker) | 86 comments Teddy wrote: "So Tej.......how elderly is elderly? I'm 77 & I've had a cell phone for years; text with family & friends constantly. How old is younger than elderly? LOL"

Easy rule of thumb - elderly is your parents' generation. My kids provide me with an ongoing barrage of evidence in that regard...


message 43: by E.B. (last edited Jul 04, 2013 06:16AM) (new)

E.B. Brown (ebbrown) | 320 comments I finally finished it. I enjoyed it, but I do think it could have been much shorter and still have the same impact. 'Course, y'all know I'm more of a romance type chick, so this one was a stretch for me. One good thing about the length? Well, it gave me extra time on the treadmill and hopefully took a little junk outta the trunk.


message 44: by Harv (new) - rated it 5 stars

Harv Griffin | 66 comments Tej wrote: "Oh the party guests certainly have not gone, some are still arriving and I have asked one of them to bring a crate of liquor as our stock is running low!

This is a 600 page book so the group readi..."


Made me laugh, Tej. Twice! OK, pass me a Jack Daniel's on the rocks, and I'll get to work with this broom. But of course, you know that all I can think about now is the view of E.B. reading time travel books while running on her treadmill. Yeah, OK, busted again: rear-view.

@hg47


message 45: by Tej (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tej (theycallmemrglass) | 1725 comments Mod
Here's your JD on the Rocks, Harv, cleaning stuff in the cupboard.

And EB, put that book down, crank up the treadmill speed to about 6-8kph (steady jog) for 2mins, then to 88mph..I mean 10kph (sprint) for 30 seconds. Repeat 6 times. There, that will lose you more junk in just 15mins than the 2hours walking and reading ;) I'm a fitness instructor so dont argue, get to it cowgirl. (disclosure: check with your doctor before doing short burst intense exercises)


Right, back to the book. There are lots of religious quoting and church going in this book by the characters of both time periods (past and future). Not sure at this point if there is a religious inclination in the narrative itself, that would usually reveal itself at the end of the book. I detect that the author is highlighting how society binds together through their religious beliefs. It serves as a social dependence to keeping order and optimism but the book also highlights naiveity too. These are one of the details I am enjoying in Connie's writing on both the past and future...but man does she have a dull technological vision of the future!

By the way, I am not religious but I am not an aethist either, probably an agnostic that wants to believe in the divine that may be within us as a collective or external. But knowing the answer is not important for me, how we live and how we contribute, is.

DISCUSSION QUESTION 4: Does a novel's content of religion or indeed aithism affect your enjoyment due to your own beliefs? Would you be offended by an atheism or religious inclination of a book's narrative? What do you feel in general about a novel depicting good and bad points about religious activities and beliefs?


message 46: by Rysa (last edited Jul 05, 2013 07:38AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Rysa Walker (rysawalker) | 86 comments Ooh - fun question, Tej. I'm sort of in the same position you are in terms of religion. I came to my current melange of beliefs via a fundamentalist childhood. I have a few fond memories of that religion (mostly the music) and a lot of not-so-fond memories (misogyny and racism, among other jewels.) I'm now closer to Buddhist than Southern Baptist, but I'm fine with religion as long as the intent isn't to make me believe whatever they do.

And that's pretty much how I feel about religion in books, as well. If it gets preachy and I feel that the author is trying to convert me, the defenses go up. They seem to go up quicker if the author is trying to convert me to some variant of fundamentalist Chrisitianity, but that's probably because I have a pretty good detector for that brand of religion. The most annoyed I can remember being at a book is when I got three-quarters of the way through a mediocre paranormal novel and it took a sudden twist toward trying to "save" my immortal soul. I was so pissed that I tossed it into the trash, and I'm squeamish about throwing books away (as my overflowing shelves will attest.) But I've also had problems with books that take a superior attitude and dismiss religious belief entirely as a preoccupation those with tiny minds.

I think the "truth" on this matter is different for everyone, but religion is an inescapable part of life. It is, admittedly, more a part of some lives than others, but whether we embrace it or not, we all encounter it if we interact with society. Stories that deal with existential issues -- and those are usually the best stories, in my opinion -- will often need to touch on religion. Depicting the good along with the bad doesn't bother me. But an author who demonizes religion entirely or tries to shove his or her own preferred flavor down my throat bothers me intensely.


message 47: by John, Moderator in Memory (new)

John | 834 comments Mod
Although I'm not reading our book-of-the-month this time, I would like to weigh in on Tej's awesome question.

I also had a very negative view of my force-fed fundamental Christian upbringing. Later as an adult, I did some personal soul searching and ended up embracing the Christian faith... but I did it on my own terms. So even though I consider myself a fundamental, born-again Christian, I cringe when someone tries to conceal a message of salvation within a mainstream book, movie or television show. I'm not saying it shouldn't be done. In fact, I've seen it done extremely well. I'm just saying that people need to be honest and up front with their audience. Otherwise, their good intentions can have an adverse affect on the reader.

Having said that, I'm equally critical (and usually open minded) of how other world religions are presented in books or movies. The only time this has been an issue is when I read Death Foreshadowed (Elusive Clue Series) by Patricia Bremmer. This was a great murder mystery which happened to be set in a small town in Colorado where I resided for eight years. Even though the local sheriff called in a psychic to help him solve the crime, I kept an open mind. Where the author lost me was in the last chapter when (view spoiler)


message 48: by E.B. (new)

E.B. Brown (ebbrown) | 320 comments Rysa wrote: "Ooh - fun question, Tej. I'm sort of in the same position you are in terms of religion. I came to my current melange of beliefs via a fundamentalist childhood. I have a few fond memories of that..."

@Harv~ yes to the Jack. Please pass along.
@Tej~ hmmm, must try your methods for the rest of this junky trunk...;)

@Rysa~ I completely agree. I am wide open to reading about any religion, even though I have some very unresolved issues with the whole religion thing on a personal level. That said, I enjoy delving into another viewpoint, but when I start feeling like the author is preaching and my soul is damned to eternal hell if I don't agree, well, then the author has lost me.

@John~ Yes! If the book or TV show is upfront about the religious message, that is tolerable. I just get suspicious and well, annoyed, when suddenly things take a huge turn.
Ah, I suppose religion is another discussion entirely.


Debbie | 84 comments Great question. I am open minded. I love historical novels, so it is never a shock to me to read about wars that raged for centuries over religious beliefs. That's how it happened. As for more contemporary stories, it is hard to describe what "preachy" is. But I know it when I read it.

John included a book that turned him off because it got too crazy. One that did that for me was What Dreams May Come. I felt like the author was trying to sell me something, or more like, demand that I buy it!! Ugh.

Even though religion plays NO part in my personal life, whatsoever, I know I am a minority in this view.


Angela | 3 comments Tej wrote: "Well this book is meandering a bit plot-wise but nevertheless, the writing is enjoyable enough for me to keep turning the pages.

I think I get the point with Amy's toilet paper, its a deliberate r..."



Well, I for one finished it on 18th June. And suffice to say, I gave it only 2 stars :(


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