In the darkness of World War Two, a murderer strikes…
Classic crime from one of the greats of the Detection Club
‘No author is more skilled at making a good story seem brilliant’ Sunday Express
‘He stood very still for a moment. He said he had a sixth sense that warned him of danger. The fact that more murderous attempts had been made on his life did not affect his belief in his instinct. He said that in his profession a man had to harden himself to take risks. That was what his clients paid him for, “and,” he would add, “they pay damn well.” ‘
Death in the Blackout takes place in the heart of World War II and opens as a bomb drops uncomfortably close to detective Arthur Crook’s London flat, setting off a mysterious chain of events.
Connie Willis is one of science fiction’s most decorated authors, with a staggering eleven HUGOs and seven NEBULA AWARDs to her name. She is best known for her sequence of time-travel stories including SF Masterworks DOOMSDAY BOOK and TO SAY NOTHING OF THE DOG and the HUGO AWARD-winning diptych BLACKOUT and ALL CLEAR. This omnibus collects her solo debut, LINCOLN’S DREAMS, which won the JOHN W. CAMPBELL MEMORIAL AWARD and PASSAGE, shortlisted for the HUGO, NEBULA JOHN W. CAMPBELL and ARTHUR C. CLARKE AWARDs.
It’s Christmas, but there isn’t much Christmas spirit in the Glendale Police Department. Delia Riordan’s father has just died, Detective Jim Harvey’s family have left for the holidays, there are power blackouts, and of course no let-up in murders, muggings, burglaries and a perplexing triple murder/suicide.
The department’s mood improves with the addition of a dog and a family of kittens to the office. Some crimes even have comic outcomes, including the burglar who is given away by a trail of wool. So it turns out to be a happy Christmas after all – except for the victims.
‘My favourite American crime-writer’ New York Herald Tribune
Using the secret motive power of a lost a lost flying saucer, physicist Micael Arnott, three companions and an escaped convict are flung into the void at eight times the speed of light to eventually land, after the oblivion of acceleration, upon a world that is both extraordinary and terrifying.
Their machine disappears and they themselves also vanish one by one, Michael Arnott going first when he is on the verge of explaining the mystery of this far-flung world.
That the planet is inhabited seems obvious from queerly designed spaceships glimpsed at intervals, all of them blazoned with a “Z”, which is not so much an alphabet letter as a symbol of a master-race of scientists.
In their efforts to solve the riddle of the world and system to which they have been hurled, the perplexed travellers gradually realise they are not only involved in an odyssey of space, but in a problem of Time as well. They are forced to the conclusion that, just as the first supersonic airmen paid a penalty of mental blackout for breaking the barrier of sound, so there is also a penalty for exceeding Fitzgerald’s Law – namely that 186,000 miles per second is the ultimate possible speed.
One night in October when he was ten years old, Tyler Dupree stood in his back yard and watched the stars go out. They all flared into brilliance at once, then disappeared, replaced by a flat, empty black barrier. He and his best friends, Jason and Diane Lawton, had seen what became known as the Big Blackout. It would shape their lives.
The effect is worldwide. The sun is now a featureless disk – a heat source, rather than an astronomical object. The moon is gone, but tides remain. Not only have the world’s artificial satellites fallen out of orbit, their recovered remains are pitted and aged, as though they’d been in space far longer than their known lifespans. As Tyler, Jason, and Diane grow up, space probe reveals a bizarre truth: The barrier is artificial, generated by huge alien artifacts. Time is passing faster outside the barrier than inside – more than a hundred million years per day on Earth. At this rate, the death throes of the sun are only about forty years in our future.
Jason, now a promising young scientist, devotes his life to working against this slow-moving apocalypse. Diane throws herself into hedonism, marrying a sinister cult leader who’s forged a new religion out of the fears of the masses.
Earth sends terraforming machines to Mars to let the onrush of time do its work, turning the planet green. Next they send humans…and immediately get back an emissary with thousands of years of stories to tell about the settling of Mars. Then Earth’s probes reveal that an identical barrier has appeared around Mars. Jason, desperate, seeds near space with self-replicating machines that will scatter copies of themselves outward from the sun – and report back on what they find.
Life on Earth is about to get much, much stranger.