Feb. 6th, 2012

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Title: Blackout & All Clear
Author: Connie Willis
Genre: Sci-fi, historical fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
# pages: 512p, 643p
Date read: February, 2012

In Blackout, award-winning author Connie Willis returned to the time-traveling future of 2060 - the setting for several of her most celebrated works - and sent three Oxford historians to World War II England: Michael Davies, intent on observing heroism during the Miracle of Dunkirk; Merope Ward, studying children evacuated from London; and Polly Churchill, posing as a shopgirl in the middle of the Blitz. But when the three become unexpectedly trapped in 1940, they struggle not only to find their way home but to survive as Hitler's bombers attempt to pummel London into submission.

Now the situation has grown even more dire. Small discrepancies in the historical record seem to indicate that one or all of them have somehow affected the past, changing the outcome of the war. The belief that the past can be observed but never altered has always been a core belief of time-travel theory - but suddenly it seems that the theory is horribly, tragically wrong.

Meanwhile, in 2060 Oxford, the historians' supervisor, Mr. Dunworthy, and seventeen-year-old Colin Templer, who nurses a powerful crush on Polly, are engaged in a frantic and seemingly impossible struggle of their own - to find three missing needles in the haystack of history.

An absolutely amazing series, but I am very glad I knew from the set out that "All Clear" was one book split out in two volumes, rather than two individual books. I would have been furious with the cliffhanger at the end of "Blackout" if I hadn't known this in advance. For the same reason I am going to review the two books as one.

In a word - I loved it, and it brought back everything I had loved about Connie Willis' writing in "The Doomsday Book". I liked the way the different plotlines intertwined and was chuffed to spot some of the links before they were made obvious. But as usual, trying to figure out the theory behind time travel gave me a headache ;)

I had serious problems putting the books down, and finished the last one over the weekend. But can somebody explain the ending to me? I have a couple of theories, but wish it had been spelled out for non-mystery solvers like myself...


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