I do not think that there can ever be enough books about anything and I say that knowing that some of them are going to be about Pilates.The more knowledge the better seems like a solid rule of thumb, even though I have watched enough science fiction films to accept that humanity’s unchecked pursuit of learning will end with robots taking over the world.-Sarah Vowell

Monday, August 29, 2016

Blackout by Connie Willis


Connie Willis, an inductee into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame, has received six Nebula and ten Hugo awards for her writing and this book is an fine example why.  This book takes place mostly in the years 2060 and 1940.  In the year 2060 there are a group of historians who have learned from past historians and no longer try to change the past, but just observe the lives of ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances throughout history.  They study, use implants to store memory or change an accent, and do all the things necessary to fit in. 

Something weird is going on.  The head of this organization, Mr. Dunworthy, is changing everyone's schedule around, so their jumps are in different orders and on different days in their time.  There are two ways to time travel: real time and flash time.  Flash time means that no actual time has past in the year 2060.  Real time, means that actual time has passed in 2060.  You are dropped down in a net to a place where no one would see you, or the light that shines when you drop.  When you check in every so often, you go to the same place.  Sometimes there is some slippage, which is what happens when you do not arrive at the exact time or place you planned, usually because someone was there at the spot preventing it.

This book focuses on three people: Eileen, a first year historian who was sent to the country to observe the sending of the children from London to the country during 1940; the second is Michael who is sent to 1939, in the hopes of seeing the English fishermen rescuing the British military from Dunkirk; and the third is Polly who is supposed to be a shop girl in London in 1940.  Polly has memorized the times of the bombs and where they occur in London, in order to protect herself. 

Soon, the three find that their drop site is no longer working and they have no way back to 2060.  Is something going on back home and that is why Mr. Dunworthy was acting weird and changing assignments?  Or did Michael accidentally change time by being at Dunkirk and saving a soldier's life.  Polly has not told them, but her time is limited.  You can not be at the same time period and Polly is in London in 1945 for V-E Day and it could kill her if she is still there at that time.  Also, she only knows the bomb drops for the year 1940.  After that, they are on their own.

This book combines the excitement of World War II with the wonderment of technology from the future.  Sadly, it is not one book.  Once you finish it, you must go out and hunt down the next book All Clear, which is what I am in the process of doing, because I can not just leave them hanging in a world they know only so much about, and that from history books.  Things are not happening the way they are supposed to be happening and the three are scared they might have caused England to lose the war.

Link to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Blackout-Connie-Willis/dp/0345519833/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1472480149&sr=1-4&keywords=blackout

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