Posts Tagged Time travel
Be sure to have the ‘sequel’ ready
Stars: Four out of Five
Blackout takes place in the same universe as many of Connie Willis’ other stories, for example The Domesday Book, To Say nothing of the Dog, or a short story in The Winds of Marble Arch
Something seems to be going wrong with the mechanisms of time travel to which these British university types have become accustomed. Several characters travel to Britain during World War Two, and meet obstacle after coincidental obstacle preventing them from returning to their proper time.
The construction of the book is of several parallel but not coincident story lines, and it can be daunting to track who is happening when. There are more plates being juggled here than I recall being active in other Willis stories – so perhaps the ambitiousness of the scope is the reason that it seems to be moving more slowly and with less drama.
Still, it’s excellently written and I am looking forward to the sequel to learn what becomes of all these characters.
The Winds of Marble Arch is a collection of short stories and novellas by Connie Willis. She’s a very, very good writer (hence the ‘virtuous’ tag)…
Reading the stories back-to-back in a collection like this makes me realize that death, consciousness, and disorientation are recurring themes in (some of) her work. Whether it’s the end of the world because the sun has exploded, or a nuclear holocaust, or the Titanic sinking (Passage), or an individual’s death (Lincoln’s Dreams)… things fall apart. It’s rather unsettling to read so much of it back-to-back… I have had some really odd dreams! Don’t worry, not going to share those.
I wish there were a few more of her quirky-toned pieces in here, in the vein of To say nothing of the Dog. There are some on the funny side, but nothing that resonates quite as much as the, well, depressing ones.
There’s one called Chances (or was it Choices?) that reminded me both of The Yellow Wallpaper, and of Sherri Tepper’s the Family Tree.
Ah, the one about trying to find the conference rooms at a quantum physics convention was funny. Either you know where the hotel room is, or you know where you are going, but you can never find out both at the same time. It’s told more amusingly than that, and more accurately, but can I distinguish between real quantum physics and jokes about three-strings-walk-into-the-bar? Afraid not.
So, I have a few more pieces to read still, but I am going to start the Christopher Moore book Dirty Job, and alternate through the remainder of them. Hopefully this will cut down on the creepy dreams!