We took a hiatus for the holidays, so we're doing a mega-read for late January: We'll be tackling Connie Willis' Blackout and All Clear (her two-book time travel novel). What is this io9 book club, you ask?
For those unfamiliar with the io9 book club, here's how it works: You read the book. We create a special book club post on io9 when the meeting is in session (it starts Tuesday, Jan. 25), and everybody talks about the book in comments for a few days. Later that week, we hope that Willis will join us, so you can ask her questions you have about the books.
Here's what we said about Blackout:
Wills' ability to evoke the sheer ordinariness of horrific situations is what made her black plague novel Doomsday Book one of the most powerful time travel novels I've ever read. And you can see her doing the same thing in Blackout, where Polly goes to London to work in a dress shop during the Blitz; Mike goes to observe "everyday heroes" at the evacuation of Dunkirk; and Eileen goes to the countryside outside London to pose as a maid in the house of a wealthy woman who took in young evacuees during the raids. All of them are tasked with a simple mission, which is to observe what is always lost in grand histories of enormous events: What the ordinary people were doing.
Unfortunately, just as the historians are ready to leave the temporally-unstable "divergence point" of World War II, they discover that "the net," their time-travel tech, isn't working. They return to their pickup points again and again, but find no glowing doorway back to the Oxford History Department. They're stuck, and they have to improvise. Without changing history in any way.
And here's what we said about All Clear:
While Blackout took us into the countryside where children were evacuated, and into the rescue effort at Dunkirk, All Clear takes place almost entirely in London. We get to know the train station shelters where city dwellers waited out the bombings, the tattered acting troupes who tried to keep everybody's spirits up, the codebreakers at Bletchley Park, the ambulance drivers, the kids orphaned by war, and all the innocents whose lives have been destroyed by it. Through the eyes of our historians Mike, Mary, and Polly, we see firsthand why staying on the homefront required just as much bravery - if not more - than going to war.
So get reading! We'll talk about it on January 25.