Blackout by Connie Willis

Connie_Willis-Blackout_2010Published: 2010

Genre: science fiction/historical fiction

Length: 491 pages

Setting: mostly England during the Blitz

Interest: Connie Willis is lauded as an excellent writer and Blackout won all the major science fiction awards for the year it was written, so I decided to add it to my list.

Summary: Michael, Merope, and Polly are historians that have been sent back from the mid-21st century to observe various parts of England during WWII. Michael wants to observe the evacuation of Dunkirk, but ends up taking part and getting injured. Merope is observing children evacuated from the London bombing, and Polly is a London shop girl. When their stay is over, they are unable to go back to their own time, and end up all meeting in London during the Blitz, trying to figure out how to get out, and hoping they haven’t altered events enough to change the future.

Final thoughts: I had read a previous book by Willis and been disappointed with the lack of science fiction, so I was prepared this time for a historical fiction book with a touch of time travel. The science fiction elements are really quite incidental to the main plot of what England was like during WWII. Since the main characters were essentially outside observers, it was easy for me to put myself in their place and really get a feeling of what England was like while the Nazis were bombing it on a near daily basis. While the book is fairly easy to summarize, there are many little stories of how the three main characters are trying to live in the past that make the book so interesting and compelling to read.

Title comes from: The evening blackouts during the Blitz.

Others to read: The story got so long, it was split into two books – Blackout and All Clear.

Awards won: Hugo, Nebula, and Locus Awards in 2011

Reading challenges fulfilled: None, since this is a review of a book read in a previous year.


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