Blackout — Connie Willis

It seems a bit unfair to say anything about Blackout with All Clear still in my library hold queue. The two were intended to be one book, but the sheer length meant they became two books.

The story thus far follows a group of historians from a future Oxford (2060 to be precise) that uses time travel to study the past. Many of the characters have been featured in previous Willis books (To Say Nothing of the Dog, Doomsday Book). In this case, all the historians are examining early days of World War II in England, evacuee children, the first months of the Blitz, the rescue of soldiers at Dunkirk, etc. Something goes wrong with their connection to the future and hijinks ensue.

Unfortunately, Blackout seems to be entirely focused on introducing all of the characters situations and navigating things to set up for All Clear. If I didn’t enjoy Willis’s writing, particularly in To Say Nothing of the Dog, I would have given up early on. And as it is, there’d best be a good payoff in All Clear for how things have been structured.

That said, I have enjoyed the vignettes of life in England in WWII that we’ve seen thus far, obviously we don’t get a lot of these details in American history coverage of the period—and I only know what little I do due to being a bit of an anglophile. It’s too bad most of those little details are entirely inaccurate.