Blackout by Connie Willis, which I’m co-hosting with Carrie at Books and Movies. How are you all doing so far? Have you read the first 13 chapters? I must confess that I read them a week in advance, but I’m determined to keep to the read-along schedule for the rest of the book. Note that there are minor spoilers in this post.
Much like To Say Nothing of the Dog (which I re-read recently), I found the beginning of this book quite confusing: there are so many characters and time periods to keep track of and so many details that don’t make sense yet. This is both a strength and a weakness of Willis’s writing. I like that she just throws the reader into the story without too much explanation—we have to trust that it will eventually all fall into place and make sense. But at the same time, the first 120 pages of this book all felt like set-up to me, and I haven’t really gotten into the story yet. Plus I don’t like feeling that I should be taking notes to make sure I don’t miss anything!
One thing I realize when I read Willis’s Oxford Time Travel novels is how shaky my knowledge of history is. I’d never heard of the Phoney War before, for example, and must admit that I don’t know much about the Battle of Britain or the Dunkirk evacuation either. But I get a kick out of the fact that I can read SF and learn actual history, although it can sometimes be hard to tell where the real history leaves off and the fiction begins.
Anyway, what’s most intriguing to me so far is that so many drops are being rescheduled and so many historians are experiencing significant slippage—what does it all mean? And I’m pretty sure Colin’s outburst about Dr. Ishiwaka’s theories is important too, especially since Dunworthy then takes off to see Ishiwaka...
Those are my thoughts so far. What about you? Let me know if you write your own post and I will link to it in mine. Otherwise, please share your thoughts in the comments! Please don’t comment on the book beyond page 123, though, as I haven’t read any further yet.
Next week’s discussion post will appear on Carrie’s blog at Books and Movies.