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Blackout - Connie Willis

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Publisher: Audible Frontiers

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      05.10.2012 15:27
      Very helpful
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      Great time travel and historical story all rolled into one.

      ===Why I Bought This===

      Being at home ill I always like to keep myself occupied, and being surrounded by tall trees means that during the summer months I cannot get a TV signal in the bedroom, so I signed up with Audible online where you can download books. I purposely looked for ones that were unabridged and quite long As I had enjoyed Connie Wilis' Doomsday Book which I had read in paperback I decided to go for more time-travel books.
      Blackout is the first in a pair of books that Connie wrote about time travel from 2060 back to the Second World War.

      ===The Brand===

      This book was available for download from the Audible website.
      Audible is a sister website to Amazon and for £7.99 (plus the first month being free) I was able to pick one book to download a month.
      Currently if you join you will get the first three months for £3.99 each.
      There are various formats that you can download the book in but I just wanted to download it and listen on my laptop in bed.
      Luckily it was a very easy process - I had feared I would have to get my son to help me do it but if I can manage it anyone can. When you first begin you download the Audible Manager to your computer and then once you pick a title from their website it goes into your basket to purchase with your monthly credit and then you can download it whenever you wish - the book came in three sections to make downloading easier and did not take very long to download at all - I was not timing it but 10-15 minutes at the longest I would say.
      When listening you can click to 'bookmark' when you want a break and then turn your machine off and go back to the same place whenever you wish.

      ===What Is Audible?===

      Audible.co.uk, an Amazon company, is the UK's largest provider of digital audiobooks available for download.
      Audible has more than 60,000 titles and thee are being added to constantly.

      ===The Product===

      Blackout by Connie WIllis.
      Narrated by Katherine Kellgren
      18 hrs and 48 minutes.
      Audible release date 02/02/2010
      Publisher Audible Frontiers

      From the Audible website:
      '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.
      Oxford in 2060 is a chaotic place. Scores of time-travelling historians are being sent into the past, to destinations including the American Civil War and the attack on the World Trade Centre. Michael Davies is prepping to go to Pearl Harbour. 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 V.E. Day. Polly Churchill's next assignment will be as a shopgirl in the middle of London's Blitz. And 17-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 cancelling assignments for no apparent reason and switching around everyones 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 spiralling 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.'
      IMPORTANT NOTE: Blackout is the first volume of a two-part novel. To find out what happens to the time-travelling historians from Oxford, download the concluding volume, All Clear.


      £7.99 a month on Audible.

      ===The Book===

      The paperback can be bought on Amazon for £7.94 or £3 plus postage second hand.
      Paperback: 624 pages
      Publisher: Gollancz (1 Jun 2011)
      ISBN-10: 0575099275
      ISBN-13: 978-0575099272

      ===The Story===

      As the synopsis above from the Audible website states - this is a story of Time Travel.
      In the vein of Doomsday Book which is another of Connie WIllis' books, historians from the future are able to travel back to events in the past to view at first hand history as it is happening.
      They travel by means of the 'Net' which opens at 'Drops'. This process is never fully explained but the historian would step into the 'Net' which is a shimmering light and be instantly (or almost instantly) transported back to a certain pre-determined time in history. This shimmering Net would only be visible and 'open' in one place (the Drop) and only at certian times as decided by the controllers back in the present day - which in these stories is 2060 Oxford.
      As described, Blackout is set in World War Two and involves three historical travellers - Michael Davies, Merope Ward and Polly Churchill.

      ===My Opinion===

      I stumbled across Connie Willis by accident when I found one of her other Time Travel books - The Doomsday Book. I purchased that and read it and found it thoroughly enjoyable so decided to search out her other works.
      Blackout is a book along the same lines as Doomsday Book, but this time set in World War Two and not in the Black Death.
      I signed up to Audible as I cannot get TV receptoin in the summer and spending some time in bed it is good to have somehting different to pass the time, and having an unabridged version of the book I thought would be more relaxing than bothering to read it myself.
      I had read a few reviews on the Audible site before purchasing this book and must admit I agree with some points.
      The narrator has an American accent and her pronouciation of certain words is odd to say the least and does grate a little. However I decided to look past that and just enjoy the story.
      Overall I would say I did enjoy it. At almost 19 hours it probably was a ittle bit drawn out and I am sure the book could have been condensed considerably without losing any of its actual content.
      I will not tell you what happens - but it does nvolve time travel to different places and periods in the war. Two individuals travel to two different times using two different aliases, but they are not allowed to meet themsleves. With so many stories going on at one time you have to concentrate - but not in a bad way.
      To me the historical realities of war - rationing, the Blitz, air-raid shelters etc, seen to be well researched and are quite interesting in themselves.
      Our three historians are all in World War Two and all have trouble with their 'Drops', and the story revolves around their separate roles - one is with evacuees, one is working in an Oxford Street Store and another is involved with Dunkirk.
      Of course more happens than that and they have trials and tribulations to face along the way.
      I would say that I enjoyed this book - the only problems really being that it is a little drawn out - you hear the individuals rambling on about could this be the problem with their Drop or is it someting else or have they affected history when they were supposed to be unable to alter events etc etc over and over again. Their thought processes are articulated and sometimes it does keep covering the same ground.
      In places it was a little 'slow' and possibly if I had been reading the actual book myself I would have glanced over and possibly skipped quite a few pages, but being on audio you cannot do that.
      However in conclusion I did enjoy the story, so much so I have now listened to the second book All Clear, and will be ordering another one of Connie Willis' works this month.

      ===Warning - Only Half a Story===

      The other thing I would warn anyone is that this is not exactly a whole book - but only part 1. In effect the whole story continues in All Clear. Personally I think this seems a very strange way of doing things, and this is not just that the second book is a continuation of the story that you may or may not want to read - but this book just finishes really abruptly - so if you do not buy the second book you will never know what happens to them - so one without the other is a waste of time.

      ===Star Rating===

      5 stars.

      ===Would I Recommend?===





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