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BLACKOUT--Connie Willis

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See, Colin could have come back earlier and things went wrong with the drop and he got stuck and aged like that.

I wouldn't have thought anything about it except that EVERY time he's mentioned, so is Colin...
#31 - May 07, 2010, 05:04 PM

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Okay, All Clear comes out in one week.  Yes, I pre-ordered it about three months ago... :yup anyone else?   Shall we resume this conversation in a few weeks time?  Anyone ready to make any predictions?

Marissa, only mildly obsessed  :crazy
#32 - October 12, 2010, 11:34 AM
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Blast. I'm 8th of 8 holds at the library. However, there is one already in process and four more on order; I should catch up with it by mid-November!
#33 - October 12, 2010, 01:12 PM

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All Clear arrived today...  :woo  already on page 37...  :reading2
#34 - October 20, 2010, 02:16 PM
The Leland Sisters series: Courtship and Curses, Bewitching Season, Betraying Season (Holt BYR/Macmillan)
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This is killing me. Just got a revision letter today, and I'm under water at work, so things are definitely not All Clear here. Aargh!
#35 - October 20, 2010, 05:32 PM

Oooo, I can't wait to read this book! *studiously avoiding the spoilers till book arrives*  :hiding
#36 - October 26, 2010, 10:37 AM
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I just finished All Clear, sobbing happily through the last 75 pages or so (and laughing occasionally, too).  It's WONDERFUL (yes, I'm shouting) and deeply moving and satisfying on a level that very few writers achieve for me.  I can't wait until the discussion starts.
#37 - October 27, 2010, 08:07 PM
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I'm about 100 pages into ALL CLEAR and very much wishing there was a cast list for me to refer to. There are so many plot lines and people coming and going and changing names, that it's hard for me to remember who was what from the last book--especially as I read that four months ago or so. (Or maybe the fact that EVERY time I've picked up the book, my kids rush over and climb on me. The one bit I haven't forgotten is the Hodbins. Wonder why...) Reading this thread over again is helping me remember who Tensing was and the Mary/Polly thing, which is good.

I'll come back when I'm done...
#38 - November 13, 2010, 07:13 PM

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Well, I'm back. Anyone else read it yet? I'm looking forward to the discussion! Especially since I finished it late last night, went straight to bed, and don't have anyone around to talk about it with.

Anyone?
#39 - November 14, 2010, 11:59 AM

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Just turned in a revision and currently avoiding a massive pile of papers that need to be graded, but I'm really hoping to read ALL CLEAR this coming weekend. I'll be back!
#40 - November 15, 2010, 02:03 PM

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I'm here and happy to discuss it whenever we're ready.  Did you like it, Rose?
#41 - November 15, 2010, 02:11 PM
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Yay, Marissa!

I did, although like I said it took a long time to get back into the story. I saw a reader review somewhere that suggested it should have been edited with a +5 axe, and um, I agree. I felt like the central plot line was rather obscured by all the running around in panic, and there were repetitions that could have been trimmed. But, I do love long books, so I wasn't too disturbed. Mostly that six month gap between reading parts 1 and 2 did me in. (And the fact that I had to special order book 2 and the first book isn't in any library around here for me to consult.)

SPOILERS**************************************************************









(Is that enough space?)

I REALLY thought Godfrey was Colin. And then both of them sort of fell out of the first half (3/4?) of the book. I know Colin has been in love with Polly for forever, but I really wanted to see more interaction between them? She barely thinks of him at all in the second book, and it takes a while for us to even get to the scenes with him looking for her. I rather like Colin, and I wanted to see more of him. And more of them together. Because it’s hard to believe that she really loves him at the end—sure, she’s so glad to be rescued before she ceases to exist, and yes, we can see how much he loves her—and how much all of her friends love her, actually, since they are all willing to give their lives to make sure she has one. But I think she should have thought more of him. (That is the romantic in me--I have to see it to believe it. It was the one flaw of Harry Potter, too, IMO.)

I really loved the way it ended, other than that. I liked how instead of it all being a doomsday situation, it spun positive, and the net was keeping them there so that they could accomplish the good things they were meant to do. I confess that while I love high drama, dystopia isn’t my favorite. I’ve never been a fan of bleak. So I really liked this. Also the idea that they ALL won the war, not just One Great Hero. Every small thing people did helped win it. You could really feel the love Willis has for this time period and the people of England who lived through that.

********************************END SPOILERS
#42 - November 15, 2010, 02:25 PM

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Yes, I definitely recommend reading the two books back-to-back.  I didn't, but I'd spent enough time thinking about Blackout that I didn't have too much trouble sliding back into the world.

SPOILER DISCUSSION***********************
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I agree with you to some extent about wishing the relationship between Polly and Colin had been more developed too.  All I can think of is that it sort of developed in her head over the months she was in the Blitz, so that once he actually arrived, she was in that mental space...except that he was still 17 when she left, so that's a little sketchy.  I LOVED watching the Hodbins begin to change as they came to trust and love Eileen...and that Alf ended up as a judge!  The exchange between Binnie and Colin at the War Museum was one of my favorite parts of the book...and the way Mike redeemed himself from being rather unlikeable (at least I found him so) in Book 1 to being a hero in All Clear was also very moving. 

No, I never thought Colin was Sir Godfrey...but I was sure Tensing was a German spy.  I'd already guessed about Bletchley Park because I've read a fair amount of non-fiction about Enigma and the Codes departments (if you want to read an incredible memoir on the subject, try Leo Marks's Between Silk and Cyanide.  I stayed up all night to finish it, and then gave it to my husband, who did the same.)

And yes to an uplifting ending!! She almost always delivers those...even Passage, where the MC dies partway through, is uplifting.
#43 - November 15, 2010, 02:48 PM
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Oh, I LOVED the horrible Hodbins! And it was awesome how they ended up.
#44 - November 15, 2010, 04:55 PM

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Anyone else had a chance to read All Clear yet?
#45 - November 17, 2010, 12:05 PM
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I loved the ending, but couldn't get into the story, so I bailed after the first 75 pp and jumped to the final 50 pp to see how it came out. I found that very satisfying, actually.

So the verdict is: loved Blackout, loved the ending to All Clear, the stuff in between... not so much.

#46 - November 17, 2010, 07:36 PM

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I am about 300 pages into ALL CLEAR and taking a little break because I was getting WAY too tense. I'll admit to being annoyed at the huge pile of near misses and all the things Polly, Mike, and Eileen don't bother to tell each other until it's too late, but I'm still enjoying the ride.
#47 - November 22, 2010, 06:10 PM

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I finally finished ALL CLEAR. I loved many things about it, but I didn't feel the emotions I might have if I hadn't been so frustrated by being drowned in minutiae. Do we have to read every single solitary newspaper advertisement that Ernest writes? Must we go through every single confused thought that a concussed character is having? I really wish the book had been pared down because if it had been, I would have loved the whole thing. Or perhaps if I'd read it at a less busy time.





SPOILERS









I love what Marissa says about the growth of the Hodbins, which was one of my favorite parts, and I agree with Rose about wanting to see more of Colin and Polly together so I'd really feel her love for him, not just her relief in being rescued and her love for her friends because of what they did for her. I was a little disappointed that Sir Godfrey didn't turn out to be somebody from the future because it sure seemed like we were being given hints in that direction (he knew Polly was from the future, right?).

I'm confused about a lot of things. Lady Bracknell is a cover name for a man, right? The masculine pronouns for Lady Bracknell and Gwendolyn threw me. (I had to find a copy of BLACKOUT to find my way back into the story because I'd forgotten too much.) And about Eileen: when she stayed, how did she know at that point that it was her responsibility to help Colin find Polly and Mr. Dunworthy? Or did she know that? I haven't looked, but did she not have any family back in 2060? I mean, I know that historians can be a bit clannish, but these folks seemed to know no one except other Oxford historians---but then when they get to 1941, they make all sorts of friends very easily. Hmm.

Another confusion: I don't understand what would have happened if, when Colin found Mike, he had also found Polly. That was the 1944 Polly, which she had visited before she visited 1941. If Colin had found her then, would that have prevented her from going to 1941? And why did Mr. Dunworthy refuse to acknowledge Polly when he first saw her? Was that because he already thought he'd messed up? Did he have a good reason to assume the war had been lost? Or was he just being pessimistic and assuming that because the drop wouldn't open, Hitler must have won?
#48 - November 24, 2010, 07:59 PM

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I'm confused about a lot of things. Lady Bracknell is a cover name for a man, right? The masculine pronouns for Lady Bracknell and Gwendolyn threw me. (I had to find a copy of BLACKOUT to find my way back into the story because I'd forgotten too much.)

These are all characters from Oscar Wilde's play "The Importnace of being Earnest".
#49 - November 29, 2010, 02:51 PM
« Last Edit: November 29, 2010, 02:53 PM by wildoates »

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Wow. I completely missed that. Haven't read or seen the play for 25 years. Thanks, wildoates!
#50 - November 29, 2010, 02:54 PM

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I am a fan of Connie Willis; I am especially fond of her short story "Even the Queen" and have made all of my children read it, even my son (it is a small 'f' feminist work of great humour, which won the 1993 Hugo for Best Short Story).

While I really enjoyed reading both ‘Blackout’ and ‘All Clear’ (I read them both books in under a week!) I agree with those who feel that a good edit would have made storyline tighter and the books a better read.

SPOILER ALERT ................. SPOILER ALERT






I felt that the female figures were just a little bit naff. I refuse to believe that the women who are to be born in the future are going to be so namby-pamby (code for the word I really want to use). The two main women characters portrayed in these novels seemed unable to treat each other as adults; these are women who have (one assumes) a tertiary level education on being an historian and on time travel. Surely there were classes on dealing with the difficulties and risks of time travel. If my daughters acted as silly as these two occasionally manage to, I would be ashamed of myself and feel that I had failed as a mother.

And Mike – pfffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffft. Hero complex, serious hero complex (though I really did like the nod to ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ and that whole storyline).

Given the Hodbins tendency to sneak up behind people, (and Polly and Eileen’s lack of discretion when talking about their problems), it is hardly surprising that the Hodbins guessed that the women came from the future; but I was glad that Binnie was able to be involved towards the end of the story, and without that lack of discretion from Eileen and Polly, that would not have been possible.

I loved the Hodbins and laughed out loud when I read the career path that Alf took. So fitting.

And I still think that Colin and Sir Godfrey are the same person. I cannot remember any  talk of the work that Sir Godfrey did when he was young; and there is a quote that both Sir Godfrey AND Colin uses right as Polly and he are stepping into the shimmering light (something about a lark – dang it all, where is my Kindle when I need it!).

But overall, I loved the books and yes, Marissa, I too sobbed my way through the last 75 pages or so.

#51 - November 29, 2010, 05:04 PM
« Last Edit: November 29, 2010, 05:11 PM by wildoates »

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Importance of Being Earnest!  Thank you--I knew it was referring to something that was eluding me.  How appropriate, when you think of it.

SPOILER-ISH
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I agree with all everyone has said about these books benefitting from being on a tighter editorial leash...and yet, for me, I can forgive the rambling, because she so thoroughly pulls me into her world that I'm happy for the extra words.  Not many authors can do that to me (I never even bothered reading the 7th Harry Potter book because after 4, 5, and 6 I'd totally lost all trust in JKR).

I wonder if her conflating Colin and Sir Geoffrey in some ways (though it never struck me much) was how she had Polly fall in love with Colin...since she'd already come to love Sir Geoffrey.  Just a thought.

#52 - November 29, 2010, 07:29 PM
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II was so excited about BLACKOUT and ALL CLEAR, because PASSAGES was the first Connie Willis book ever that didn't work for me - I finished it because it was Connie Willis and she's one of my favorite writers ever, but I was too often confused by the scientific conversations, and I didn't like the ending. So it was nice to have something new from her, and in her time travel series too. I just finished ALL CLEAR today (I read BLACKOUT months ago). The break between books meant it took me a while to orient myself when I started ALL CLEAR.

These didn't have as many  :lol2 moments for me as To Say Nothing of the Dog, and I got lost sometimes in the rambling (panicked) thoughts of Mike and Polly, but I still really enjoyed the books.

{spoilers below}












I can understand why Polly wouldn't have thought about Colin during those months since to her, as someone already mentioned, he was just 17. To me it seemed that the relationship she had with Sir Godfrey, which I absolutely loved, sets the stage [ahem, sorry  :dr] for the relationship with Colin, once she discovers that he has aged several years since she left.

Ironically (and unusually for me in a CW book) my favorite characters where the "supporting cast" and not the time travelers (except Colin). The Hodbins, the troupe of performers, Sir Godfrey, they had as much to do with why I kept reading as Mary/Polly, Mike/Ernest etc. Of the time travelers, Eileen/Merope was my favorite because of how she grew over the course of the books.

Did anyone else get this feeling, at the end, that Colin is some descendant of Eileen or Binnie? I've been trying to figure out what grown up Binnie/Eileen meant when she said to Colin at the war museum (page 610) "I wonder if she...." and "That would explain..."

He asks her about it on p. 614, and she gives him an explanation (pp. 614-615) that he doesn't believe, and we're sort of left to read between the lines, but I can't figure it out... Can anyone enlighten me?

All in all, I enjoyed both books. But I agree that both could have benefitted from heavier editing, to make it less confusing to follow. I felt like it took me longer to put things together (like Mary=Polly, and Mike=Ernest) than it should have.
#53 - December 05, 2010, 01:24 PM
« Last Edit: December 05, 2010, 01:26 PM by EL »
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SPOILER (in answer to EL's question):
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Yes, Colin's a descendent of Eileen's...did you read Doomsday Book?  Remember that Colin's great-aunt was named Mary?  I think Colin's descended from Eileen's son Godfrey.
#54 - December 05, 2010, 01:59 PM
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Ah! Thank you Marissa. It's been several years since I read Doomsday book. At least I jumped to the right conclusion.

I'm kind of in withdrawl now. I should get back to writing on my WIP but it's like this outside:  :snowplow and I would love to curl up and lose myself in another 600 page book!
#55 - December 05, 2010, 11:04 PM
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I'm kind of in withdrawl now. I should get back to writing on my WIP but it's like this outside:  :snowplow and I would love to curl up and lose myself in another 600 page book!

So here are some suggestions (not all Science Fiction):

Wolf Hall - the machinations of the Tudor court in the time of Henry VIII, from the viewpoint of his trusted advisor, Thomas Cromwell. Took me about 100 pages to really get into it, and then when I did, my family had to feed themselves for 2 days while I finished it (it is OK, my youngest is 21).

A Movable Feast - Ernest Hemingway. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh Paris.

Zima Blue - Alastair Reynolds. Sience Fiction, short stories. Bye the way, how dang diggely do dah day good are British Science Fiction writers!!! Here is a list: China Mieville (weird and wonderful), Iain M Banks (my family just sighs when he publishes anything because I do not talk to them for days - too busy reading), Neil Asher, Stephen Baxter, Neil Gaiman (i just LOVE American Gods, Anansi Boys, The Graveyard book), Peter F Hamilton, Gwyneth Jones, Terry Pratchett (I am not allowed to read Pratchett in bed anymore, because I laugh so loud I wake up my hubby) , Christopher Priest, Justina Robson, Richard Morgan, Charles Stross

Anything by John Scalzi (Science Fiction) - I have only read his short stories so far, but will be tranisitioning to his novels over Christmas (which I will be spending on the beach!) (with my Kindle)

I could go on and on and on, but, luckily for you, I have a book to read!

Christmas Greetings all!

 :-*

#56 - December 08, 2010, 03:12 PM
« Last Edit: December 09, 2010, 05:58 PM by wildoates »

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