BLACKOUT is the opening movement of a vast, absorbing two-volume novel that may well prove to be Connie Willis’ masterpiece. Like her multi-award winning THE DOOMSDAY BOOK, this stunning new work marries the intricate mechanics of time travel to the gritty – and dangerous – realities of human history.
The narrative opens in Oxford, England in 2060, where a trio of time traveling scholars prepares to depart for various corners of the Second World War. Their mission: to observe, from a safe vantage point, the day-to-day nature of life during this critical historical moment. As the action ranges from the evacuation of Dunkirk to the manor houses of rural England to the quotidian horrors of London during the Blitz, the objective nature of their roles gradually changes. Cut off from the safety net of the future and caught up in the chaotic events that make up history, they are forced to participate, in unexpected ways, in the defining events of the era.
BLACKOUT is an ingeniously constructed time travel novel and a grand entertainment. More than that, it is a moving, exquisitely detailed portrait of a world under siege, a world dominated by chaos, uncertainty, and the threat of imminent extinction. It is the rare sort of book that transcends the limits of genre, offering pleasure, insight, and illumination on virtually every page.
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.
For Kivrin Engle, 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.
Winner of the Hugo Award 1993
Winner of the Nebula Award 1993
“A tour de force” – New York Times Book Review
“Ambitious, finely detailed and compulsivly readable” – Locus
“It is a book that feels fundamentally true; it is a book to live in” – Washington Post
Winner of seven Nebula and eleven 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 of the Dog, in which a time-travelling student learns one of history’s hardest lessons. In “A Letter from the Clearys”, a routine message from distant friends shatters the fragile world of a beleaguered family. In “The Sidon in the Mirror”, a mutant with the unconscious urge to become other people finds himself becoming both killer and victim.
Disturbing, revealing and provocative, this remarkable collection of short fiction brings together some of the best work of an incomparable writer whose ability to amaze, confound and enlighten never fails.
Pip and Flinx: Book Ten.
Never have the cares of the universe lain so heavily on Flinx’s shoulders, nor the forces against him seemed so invincible. Pursued by a newly revealed sect of doomsday fanatics and hunted by factions inside and outside the Commonwealth, he is expected to single-handedly avert a looming galactic crisis (or bear responsibility for the consequences.) Flinx can be forgiven for feeling a slight touch of melancholy.
According to his ship’s Al, there’s only one solution for what ails Flinx – a vacation. But with increasing number of enemies chasing him with ever greater enthusiasm, Flinx must find a getaway shrouded in obscurity. It seems that Jast, a planet smack in the middle of nowhere, is prefect, but trouble can find Flinx anywhere. What he doesn’t know is that his vacation paradise is a danger zone of the highest magnitude. And by the time he learns the truth, it may be too late.
Frank Rhind was lucky. He saw the Ice Dancer and lived. The town of Hays died. And still they didn’t believe Dr. William Stovin’s warnings. For very many years climatologists had been predicting a change in the world’s climate but they always believed that the process would take centuries. Now there was a reason to believe differently. Stovin had staked his career and credibility on trying to persuade the U.S. National Science Council to act, but 15,000 years of warmth had lulled mankind into thinking that climatic history was over. Already it was too late. The new Ice Age had begun.
One by one the great northern cities – Chicago, Oslo, Montreal, Moscow, Leningrad – came under siege. Some fell and were evacuated, sending their young, old and sick to crowded areas further south. Crops and animals were destroyed. Governments drew lines of catastrophe across their national maps. Doomsday prophets were in full cry. Technological man was overwhelmed. The world had changed.
Some time in the year future the next Ice Age will be triggered off. It could happen in a thousand years’ time, or in a century from now.
Or it could, quite literally, happen next winter. This book is fiction only because the events described have not yet happened. But it is not science fiction because all the science in the book is fact. When the year arrives that we see the sixth winter resembling 1792 within the space of a decade or so, then the Ice Age will be with us in a matter of weeks – and it will develop very much as described here.
This new collection of stories from the multi-award-winning author of Doomsday Book and To Say Nothing of the Dog contains:
A Letter from the Clearys
At the Rialto
Death on the Nile
The Soul Selects Her own Society
Even the Queen
The Winds of Marble Arch
All Seated on the Ground
Last of the Winnebagos
Ten stories – which have all won the Hugo Award, the Nebula Award or both – are compulsory reading for the serious science fiction fan.
Planetary surveyors Fin and Carson battle hostile terrain, bureaucratic red tape, and renegade “planet crashers” in this latest novella by the talented author of Doomsday Book.
Connie Willis continues to demonstrate her endless versatility in this archly written satire, which is both a love story and a shameless expose of the dark side of political correctness.