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Jul 2013
All Clear - Connie Willis - Gollancz, 2012
* * * *
Not a lot to say about this one except that it completes the story of Blackout and has the predicted virtues and faults. As a depiction of the realities of the Second World War it is splendid, but the resolution of the science fiction plot is as disappointing as expected.
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Jan 2013
Blackout - Connie Willis - Gollancz, 2012
* * * *
Although her stories often involve time travel and keep winning Hugos and Nebulas, Connie Willis is not, I humbly submit, a true science fiction writer. Not that this matters of course. Her interest is primarily in the history of the period to which she sends her characters and less in the details of how they get there, which are normally kept sensibly vague. In this book, however, the mechanics form an important part of the story, which is perhaps unfortunate as her take on time travel doesn't really convince. But her depiction of the second world war is brilliant, and I probably wouldn't have read it without the science fiction trimmings. So I guess it works.
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Sep 2011
Bellwether - Connie Willis - Bantam, 1997
* * * *
Of the 150 or so books that I have read since I started this blog, Passage is the one that haunts me the most. Its atmosphere and terrifying theme have stuck in my mind like no other and I am almost afraid to read it again in case it turns out to be less good than I remember. It is hard to imagine that Willis has written a better book, and this one certainly is not. However, like Passage, it is about academics and the way they work, and to me that is always interesting.
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28 Jan 2006 07:41 pm
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25 Feb 2005
Passage - Connie Willis - Voyager 2002
* * * * *
(Another review postponed from last year. Again, apologies if anyone finds it upsetting.)

This was the final book I read in 2004, and if I were to nominate my book of the year, this would probably be it. This extraordinary novel is funny, moving, troubling, profound and highly original both in its construction and in the effects it sets out to achieve, and I won't forget it in a hurry.

It is set in a hospital and its ostensible subject is Near Death Experiences (NDEs), the hallucinatory state reported by some people who recover from coding (cardiac arrest). Actually, it's about far more than that - it's about what people experience as they approach death (a question which haunts anyone who has had to make decisions about a dying friend or relative). Its about science and how science is done. And it's about human foolishness - how we are not in control, how we confabulate and jump to irrational conclusions, and yet can discover truths and communicate them with each other.
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