Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Sickbed Reading I: All Clear and Blackout

I've had the creeping crud or whatever you want to call it -- sore throat, raspy voice, and very tired -- and was home sick most of last week. I'm still not back up to full speed. One nice thing about being sick and unable to do much is the pleasure of reading solely for the pleasure of it.

A college friend with broad reading interests had sent me two Connie Willis novels, Blackout and its sequel All Clear. Willis is a science fiction writers and I've read some of her other works. Some of her characters or themes appear in more than one of her works. One recurring theme is time travel. Blackout and All Clear concern British time travelers from 2060 who are researching the early years of World War II. Once there the three main characters realize they can't get back. Stuck in London during the Blitz they struggle to adapt to the dangerous environment, and find themselves being drawn into the lives of the people they intended to study for a brief period.

Each of the three had a specific study population. One was working with children evacuated to the countryside, another London shopgirls, and the third everyday heroes such as the people who used their boats to evacuate soldiers from Dunkirk. Willis goes into detail about the British war strategies (decoy inflatable tanks?) that really draws the reader in.

Willis is a demanding author. There's a lot going on and you have to keep up. The What happened to Sir Godfrey? Will there be another book with more info on Colin? We know generally what happened to Eileen and the vicar but that would be a good unto itself.

Highly recommended.

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