Saturday, July 23, 2011

Blackout Read-along: Week 3 (Pages 254-378)

Welcome to the third discussion post for the read-along of Blackout by Connie Willis, which I’m co-hosting with Carrie at Books and Movies. (If you missed them, please go back and read the discussions for week 1 and week 2.) How are you all doing? I found it especially hard to stop reading at the end of our section this week. For those of you who didn’t participate in last week’s discussion—I hope you haven’t given up on the book! Note that there are spoilers in this post.

Finally finally this book has taken off for me! I think it’s mainly because this part focuses on only three historians who are almost in the same time period, so it’s much easier to keep track of what’s going on. And what’s going on is pretty exciting and mysterious: neither Eileen nor Polly can get through their drops and Mike is injured and far from his (and no retrieval teams have shown up). Their situations seem fairly dire, especially Eileen’s: Imagine being stuck in the past and having your only home taken away from you, so you have nowhere to go, barely any money and only a vague recollection of where the other historian in your time period is—and to make matters worse, that historian is somewhere in London during the Blitz!

I think the fact that Mike is in Orpington must be significant: this is at least the second, if not the third time this town has been mentioned in the book. (Lieutenant Mary Kent gets charged with transporting soldiers to Orpington Hospital on page 123, and I’m pretty sure that was not the first time we’d heard of Orpington. Does anyone else remember?)

I also can’t imagine that we’ve seen the last of the Hodbins, though I can’t quite see what role they will play in the rest of the novel. I am worried that Eileen has changed history somehow by not giving them that ticket!

Finally, I’m very curious to see how the new characters that were introduced in part 2 will fit into the story. At least one of them was a historian...

Those are my thoughts for this week. What about you? Please share your thoughts in the comments! Please don’t comment on the book beyond page 378, though, as I haven’t read any further yet.

Next week’s discussion post will appear on Carrie’s blog at Books and Movies. I will also post a spoiler-free review at the end of the read-along.


  1. Avis - I definitely think the Hodbins will come into the story again - they are disasters waiting to happen! I agree that it's really gotten good - I'm sure it won't take me long to finish the final quarter.

    My main thought after reading this section is that these historians thought they were going to experience history, but with all their foreknowledge and the possibility of an “out” at any time, it’s not truly real. Now it is.

  2. I agree with Carrie. I think the historians are NOW really experiencing the history because they are now apart of it as they cannot leave. I wonder what is up with the drops - what went wrong? I think Mike, Elaine and Polly's stories have become incredibly intriguing.

    I am finding this to be a fascinating read from the historical perspective. The characters are all great but I would love to have a bit more interaction between them and I think with the historians now stuck there that more interaction may occur.

  3. I'm done the book now (and moved on to All Clear ... I'm sure you will to once you get to the end ...though I won't "spoil' it for you.) I'm trying to think just where you are so I don't ruin anything for you. I will say that the Ernst guy and the FANY lady were confusing to me .... who the heck are they? How do they fit in with the stories of Elaine, Mike an Polly.

    I think this premise is so good. You can tell she had a blast with this.

    By the way, I'm just back from vacation and trying to get caught up with blogging. I'm skimming/reading posts but just leaving one comment for everyone. Hope you understand!

  4. I'm still behind in my reading but I'm definitely going to finish and will be reading All Clear.

    I am fairly certain we have not seen the last of the Hodbins. They are such entertaining characters I can't see them being abandoned at this point.

    The big question for me has been why a retrieval team has not shown up. Since it's time travel they should be able to show up at anytime even if they are having problems in the future like they did in Doomsday Book. That must mean that "time" itself is not letting them through on those dates, or at those drop points. And I'm pretty sure it goes back to Dunworthy changing all those drops in the first place. He must know something.

  5. Eek, I'm sorry it's taken me so long to respond to your comments!

    Carrie, I think that's a great way of putting it: the historians are finally experiencing history for real, now that they don't know what's going to happen (although Polly still has a leg up on the locals since her knowledge of where the bombs are going to fall still seems to be accurate).

    ibeeg, I think we're supposed to think that by (maybe)changing history, they've caused the drops to malfunction, but I'm not convinced it's going to be that simple. I can't wait to see what happens next!

    Jenners, I agree, I'm perplexed by the new characters that we find out so little about! Although that whole bull story really sounded familiar to me, like I'd read it before, which is presumably impossible. I hope you'll pop by and comment on our All-Clear posts even though you've read ahead!

    Leslie, glad to know you're still with us! Good point about Dunsworthy; I'd kinda forgotten about that. I can't wait to see how she ties all these stories together!