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June Books 5) Blackout, by Connie Willis

First half of the two-volume novel which won the Nebula last month and has been nominated for the Hugo. We are back in the time travel world of Fire Watch, Doomsday Book and To Say Nothing of the Dog, where near-future historians at Oxford send graduate students back to key points of British history (though their research methodology is never adequately explained).

The portrayal of wartime Britain is relentless and in the end wearyingly sentimentalised, the history students too busy being caught up in the moment to reflect on what they are doing there and what they might learn. There is an awful lot of running around and missed communication, and then the book ends in mid-story, without even the dignity of a decent cliffhanger, the publisher expecting you to buy the next volume to see how it ends. I will, but will wait until it is available as a second-hand paperback.

I was interested to note however that some of the errors of detail mercilessly catalogued by drplokta here and here seem to have been fixed - in particular, I was looking out for references to the Victoria and Jubilee lines and didn't spot either. The version I have is the free ebook supplied to Hugo voters, so perhaps it has been revised in the year or so since his notes.

Of the time travel stories, this doesn't annoy me as much as Fire Watch, whose errors of setting make it almost unreadable for me, but it is much less enjoyable than To Say Nothing of the Dog and a far less good novel (at least so far) than Doomsday Book. I shall do a post ranking the Hugo nominated novels tomorrow but you can safely assume that this will not be top of my list.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 4th, 2011 09:43 pm (UTC)
It was just really weak, wasn't it? Normally I'm first out the chute for new Willis but I'm waiting for the sequel in paperback. Shall I mail it off to you when I'm done?
Jun. 5th, 2011 05:41 pm (UTC)
Very kind of you - let me know when you are finished with it and we'll see if I have acquired it in the meantime (though I probably won't).
Jun. 5th, 2011 12:31 pm (UTC)
And drplokta doesn't even include the issue with the Agatha Christie novel that I ranted about a few months ago ("Murder on the Orient Express" has never been published as "Murder on the Calais Coach" in the UK.)

I honestly hadn't spotted all the tube line issues, but then I'm not a Londoner so it's not something I particularly care about! I enjoyed her earlier books in the sequence (and again I'm not an Oxford person so didn't spot the errors in them either - except the whole 'muffler' thing). But the main problem with Blackout/All Clear is that they are just dull and self-indulgent.

Edited at 2011-06-05 12:31 pm (UTC)
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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