Blackout is the opening movement of a vast, absorbing two-volume novel that may well prove to be Connie Willis’s masterpiece. Like her multi-award winning The Doomsday Book, this marvelous new work marries the intricate mechanics of time travel to the gritty – and dangerous – realities of actual 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 a 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 system” that is 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.
Limited: 500 signed numbered hardcover copies
Lettered: 26 signed copies housed in a custom traycase
From Booklist (Starred Review):
“On par with Doomsday Book (1992), Blackout depicts the times and the spirit of the British people remarkably vividly, and bits of comic relief leaven any somberness. Characterizations of the historians and the Brits they become close to are multifaceted and believable, and the ending leaves us keenly primed for the sequel, scheduled for November 2010 publication.”
From Library Journal (Starred Review):
“Willis is a consummate storyteller whose immersive style hooks readers from the start; her latest work, which is being published in two parts...should appeal to a wide readership and be a particular draw to her devoted followers.”
From Michael Dirda, The Washington Post:
“Blackout plunges the reader right into the middle of three key happenings of 1940: the rescue of the British troops from Dunkirk, the evacuation of children to rural villages and country houses, and the life of ordinary Londoners during the Blitz. Every detail rings true, with the kind of authority that only intense research can bring. Still, all of Willis’s knowledge is subsumed in her bravura storytelling: “Blackout” is, by turns, witty, suspenseful, harrowing and occasionally comic to the point of slapstick.”
From The Cleveland Plain Dealer:
“...despite the conceit of time travel, the book shows the attention to period detail that defines historical novels.”
- J. K. Potter
- Connie Willis
- 584 pages
- United States
- Out of Print