Doomsday Book

A book by Connie Willis

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The more serious side of Connie Willis

  • Aug 28, 2002
  • by
I still haven't read Greeley's SF claim to fame's first solo novel, Lincoln's Dreams, but based on the quality of her short stories, and this, her second novel, I'm not upset at all that I sprung for a hardback copy of it.

Which is a funny way to start a review, but sort of expresses the inexpressable delight that I enjoyed whilst reading Doomsday Book. Frankly, Willis is one of the finest writers I've ever read, in or out of the SF genre. However, I feel that her short work stands up better than her novels, and the novels ain't shabby.

What's Doomsday Book about? Kivrin, an eager young historian from 2045 gets the chance of a lifetime to "visit" (that is, time travel) to the Middle-Ages and make first-hand observations. However, the transition doesn't go quite as planned because as soon as Kivrin is sent, the technician in 2045 falls down with a mysterious influenza like disease. Kivrin's mentor in 2045 is suddenly caught in a Seriocomedy of Errors as he tries to have her recalled, while also dealing with a quarantine in his own age. Kivrin, meanwhile, is finding out the hard way that everything her mentor said about the Middle-Ages is true. And she's also finding out that she may not be in exactly the time frame that she originally thought she was.

And that's the basic plot without spoilers. The story is told through two protagonists, Kivrin's story in the middle-ages, and her mentor's story in 2045. The point of view is also a very tight third-person subjunctive, which at times can seem repetitive, but is extremely well done.

Worth it? Definately.

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About the reviewer
Glen Engel-Cox ()
Glen is a forty-something communications professional living near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He grew up in Texas and has also lived inLos Angeles, Colorado, Washington State, and Washington, DC. Glen also … more
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About this book


Connie Willis labored five years on this story of a history student in 2048 who is transported to an English village in the 14th century. The student arrives mistakenly on the eve of the onset of the Black Plague. Her dealings with a family of "contemps" in 1348 and with her historian cohorts lead to complications as the book unfolds into a surprisingly dark, deep conclusion. The book, which wonHugoandNebulaAwards, draws upon Willis' understanding of the universalities of human nature to explore the ageless issues of evil, suffering and the indomitable will of the human spirit.
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ISBN-10: 0553562738
ISBN-13: 978-0553562736
Author: Connie Willis
Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy
Publisher: Spectra
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