Book - 2010 | 1st ed
Average Rating:
Rate this:
Random House, Inc.
In her first novel since 2002, Nebula and Hugo award-winning author Connie Willis returns with a stunning, enormously entertaining novel of time travel, war, and the deeds—great and small—of ordinary people who shape history. In the hands of this acclaimed storyteller, the past and future collide—and the result is at once intriguing, elusive, and frightening.

Oxford in 2060 is a chaotic place. Scores of time-traveling historians are being sent into the past, to destinations including the American Civil War and the attack on the World Trade Center. Michael Davies is prepping to go to Pearl Harbor. Merope Ward is coping with a bunch of bratty 1940 evacuees and trying to talk her thesis adviser, Mr. Dunworthy, into letting her go to VE Day. Polly Churchill’s next assignment will be as a shopgirl in the middle of London’s Blitz. And seventeen-year-old Colin Templer, who has a major crush on Polly, is determined to go to the Crusades so that he can “catch up” to her in age.

But now the time-travel lab is suddenly canceling assignments for no apparent reason and switching around everyone’s schedules. And when Michael, Merope, and Polly finally get to World War II, things just get worse. For there they face air raids, blackouts, unexploded bombs, dive-bombing Stukas, rationing, shrapnel, V-1s, and two of the most incorrigible children in all of history—to say nothing of a growing feeling that not only their assignments but the war and history itself are spiraling out of control. Because suddenly the once-reliable mechanisms of time travel are showing significant glitches, and our heroes are beginning to question their most firmly held belief: that no historian can possibly change the past.

From the people sheltering in the tube stations of London to the retired sailors who set off across the Channel to rescue the stranded British Army from Dunkirk, from shopgirls to ambulance drivers, from spies to hospital nurses to Shakespearean actors, Blackout reveals a side of World War II seldom seen before: a dangerous, desperate world in which there are no civilians and in which everybody—from the Queen down to the lowliest barmaid—is determined to do their bit to help a beleaguered nation survive.

Baker & Taylor
Stranded in the past during World War II, three researchers from the future investigate period behavior and seek each other out in a shared effort to return to their own time.

& Taylor

Stranded in the past during World War II, three researchers from the future investigate period behavior and seek each other out in a shared effort to return to their own time. By the multiple Nebula and Hugo Award-winning author of The Doomsday Book.

Publisher: New York : Spectra Ballantine Books, 2010
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780553803198
Branch Call Number: FIC Willi
Characteristics: 491 p. ; 24 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Apr 16, 2021

The tension will drive you wild in this novel but if you realize at the outset that most of this novel is actually 'middle' and the ending is nowhere in sight, it makes more sense. It was originally one novel (including All Clear) and it was so huge that they had to break it up into two. (Blackout and All Clear). The point is, this is another exceptional novel by Connie Willis and I've already started the second one.

Sep 19, 2020

lost interest

IndyPL_SteveB Nov 30, 2018

*Blackout* is the first of two separate volumes (along with *All Clear*) published in the same year, but they really make up one long novel. And it is terrific.

It is May, 1940, England. American reporter Mike Davis accidentally gets on a leaky boat in Dover which is headed to rescue English soldiers from Dunkirk. Eileen O’Reilly is a servant at an English country home taking care of bratty children evacuated from London. Polly Sebastian is a sales girl at a London department store, heading for air raid shelters every night. In London the Blitz is on, with Hitler’s planes attempting to bomb London into submission. The future of England and Western Civilization is at stake, and it doesn’t look good for England.

But these three people – and others besides – are not who they say they are. Actually they are historians – from the year 2060, when reliable time travel has been developed. They were just supposed to be observers of the war, but now they are trapped in the past with no way home. Could their presence here cause some small event that tilts the victory toward Germany? Could they die in the bombings?

The best writers of fiction have an almost magical ability to weave a setting, plot, and characters so well that the supposedly imaginary world seems more intense, more focused, and more REAL than the world that surrounds you. Connie Willis is one of those writers, especially in this gigantic combination of science fiction and historical novel. This book is the result of many months of research into the daily lives of ordinary people during the Blitz.

If you have the time to spend, this will be a reading experience that you won’t forget. You will certainly have a new appreciation of what millions of people went through and accomplished against what seemed like the highest of odds.

Nov 28, 2017

Great description of civilian life in WW ll London. However, the was book slow moving and frustrating. After persevering , I got to the end only to find I now had to read another equally thick book to find out what happens to the characters. Sneaky trick. I won't be reading All Clear.

May 08, 2017

As with so much of her work in this area, the pacing is fast, the historical details strong, and the mixture of time-travel shenanigans and absurd academic politics keeps a frenetic plot flowing.

Oct 06, 2016

An outstanding read! I could not put this book down, and was so glad that I had book 2 ready to go. Very well written, and fast paced.

Jul 25, 2016

Like all Connie Willis' work, this novel was clever, engrossing, and simply fun to read. Looking forward to reading the second volume, All Clear.

Jul 15, 2015

Where has this writer been all of my life? Willis has an expert pacing, comic timing, a clear understanding of tension, and able to hide twists only to reveal them at the right moment. This could have been a really, really boring novel fully cliches and sentimentality about "The Greatest Generation": no, instead she provides a great yarn. Looking forward to reading other things from her, mainly because this is my first entry in her world.

Dec 20, 2014

Not up to the quality of its predecessor, "The Doomsday Book." Willis has us bouncing around between multiple protagonists stuck at various points in WWII Britain, and she finds it difficult to maintain the momentum. This is the first of two parts, ending on a cliffhanger.

Apr 30, 2014

Seems you are either going to love or hate this book. For me is was the most annoying book(s) I have ever read. The characters should not be let out of the house without a guide dog let alone 100 years back in time. They can't wait to get to the past & spend the next 500 pages trying to get back to the future & then we find the climax is going to be in another book, 650 page later.
On the other hand, I liked the descriptions of ordinary peoples lives during the Blitz etc. Something my family did but refused to talk about.

The best bit about time travel would be for me to go back & save the time I wasted with reading 11 hundred pages, when 2 or 3 would have sufficed.

And now you don't have to

View All Comments


Add a Quote
Mar 10, 2011

Open for business. And we do mean open. - SIGN IN BLOWN-OUT WINDOW OF A LONDON DEPARTMENT STORE

Mar 09, 2011

Any one of us could be killed tonight, or next week, and if that's the case, then why not go out dancing and all the rest of it? Have a bit of fun? It would be better than never having lived at all.

Mar 09, 2011

The steps were perilously steep and one was broken, and the beams in the low-ceilinged cellar looked as if they might give way at the mere sound of a bomb, let alone a direct hit.

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at IPL

To Top