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Doomsday Book [Mass Market Paperback]

Connie Willis
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (347 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 11.99
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Book Description

Aug. 1 1993
For Kivrin, preparing an on-site study of one of the deadliest eras in humanity's history was as simple as receiving inoculations against the diseases of the fourteenth century and inventing an alibi for a woman traveling alone. For her instructors in the twenty-first century, it meant painstaking calculations and careful monitoring of the rendezvous location where Kivrin would be received.

But a crisis strangely linking past and future strands Kivrin in a bygone age as her fellows try desperately to rescue her. In a time of superstition and fear, Kivrin -- barely of age herself -- finds she has become an unlikely angel of hope during one of history's darkest hours.

Five years in the writing by one of science fiction's most honored authors, Doomsday Book is a storytelling triumph. Connie Willis draws upon her understanding of the universalities of human nature to explore the ageless issues of evil, suffering and the indomitable will of the human spirit.

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Doomsday Book + To Say Nothing of the Dog + All Clear
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Product Description

From Amazon

Connie Willis labored five years on this story of a history student in 2048 who is transported to an English village in the 14th century. The student arrives mistakenly on the eve of the onset of the Black Plague. Her dealings with a family of "contemps" in 1348 and with her historian cohorts lead to complications as the book unfolds into a surprisingly dark, deep conclusion. The book, which won Hugo and Nebula Awards, draws upon Willis' understanding of the universalities of human nature to explore the ageless issues of evil, suffering and the indomitable will of the human spirit.

From Publishers Weekly

This new book by Hugo- and Nebula-award-winning author Willis ( Lincoln's Dreams ) is an intelligent and satisfying blend of classic science fiction and historical reconstruction. Kivrin, a history student at Oxford in 2048, travels back in time to a 14th-century English village, despite a host of misgivings on the part of her unofficial tutor. When the technician responsible for the procedure falls prey to a 21st-century epidemic, he accidentally sends Kivrin back not to 1320 but to 1348--right into the path of the Black Death. Unaware at first of the error, Kivrin becomes deeply involved in the life of the family that takes her in. But before long she learns the truth and comes face to face with the horrible, unending suffering of the plague that would wipe out half the population of Europe. Meanwhile, back in the future, modern science shows itself infinitely superior in its response to epidemics, but human nature evidences no similar evolution, and scapegoating is still alive and well in a campaign against "infected foreigners."p. 204 This book finds villains and heroes in all ages, and love, too, which Kivrin hears in the revealing and quietly touching deathbed confession of a village priest.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Wherever you go, there you are Oct. 22 2006
Format:Mass Market Paperback
It's impossible to speak about this book without mentioning THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE. Don't get me wrong---the only similarities happen to be time travel---otherwise totally different stories. BUT, for me, DOOMSDAY BOOK has a bit more going for it. The plot is this: Take one history student, say, in the year 2048, and transplant/transport THEM to England in the 14th century. Sounds simple, almost contrived---a sort of "Back to the Future," type of scenario, but again, it's not the idea but what the author does with it. In this capable writer's hands, the story comes to life as no other. I was really outright "shocked" at how well the tale was handled. No cliches here, folks. Just good writing and pacing that makes sense and keeps things moving.

Just to kick things up a notch, our time traveler arrives just as the Black Plague is getting underway. And why not? Now, all this is good and well for a nice story that will keep yo flipping the pages, but something else is happening here. There's an underlying metaphorical touch that I couldn't quite put my finger on---a veritable "this is really about something else" feeling that leads me to believe Willis is a much "deeper" writer than one might expect. No, I don't think I'm reading too much into this great tale, but you pick up a copy and decide for yourself. So many books disappoint---this isn't one of them.

Also highly recommended: TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book - Great Premise March 20 2005
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. The premise, in which students travel in time to learn about history, is unique and extremely well handled by Willis. The descriptions she uses to describe the time travel mechanism, and the 'rules' in place to prevent the alteration of the time line, are also well done. In the past I've always felt that time travel was poorly handled by authors. They either left too many gaps, or made the system so overly complex that I found myself spending more time thinking about how impossible the time travel was and less time on the 'meat' of the story. Thankfully, this story has none of these inadequacies.
I especially liked the characters. Each one was well written, and presented in a believable manner. I think an author does a good job of writing a book when they make you, the reader, want to meet the individual they have written about in person. Willis, in my opinion, achieves this.
And finally, the descriptions Willis manages to convey with regards to the 14th century make one think that she was actually there herself! For anyone interested in historical fiction, or has a passing interest in time travel (with a bit of humor thrown in) I'd say this book's for you.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wish I could put SIX stars... July 10 2004
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
After finishing this book all I could say was "WOW"!!!! I was at a loss for words. I haven't read anything quite like it before or since.
If you ever wanted to travel back in time to see what it was really and truly like back then, here's your chance. Willis has not only thoroughly researched that time period, she has created three-dimensional, live, fleshed-out people within it. She recreates not only the culture and speech, but also the smell, the feel, the temperature, the sound of that place and time. YOU ARE THERE!!
This book is not perfect, but it's a flawed emerald rather than a perfect rhinestone. The modern-day goings-on ("back at the ranch" in 2048) are often dull and tedious. But they're worth skimming through in order to immerse yourself in history (without actually catching the plague).
I've read a few of Willis's books - some were disappointing, some good, and one ("The Dog") extremely funny. In my opinion, Doomsday Book is her best. It would make an awesome movie.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Full past and thin future July 7 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
With 300+ reviews, maybe it has all been said. But just in case....
The parts of this book that deal with the middle ages are wonderful. The author really brings to life a small but fascinating English time and place. If one is interested in learning about life in the middle ages, the plague, and religious issues then this book will have much to offer.
The future the author describes, however, is another story. Her 2048 feels more like 1958. The book shares that odd quality that one gets from certain viewing certain British films, like Day of the Trifids or even the Avengers series, i.e. the total population of England is about 500 persons, and 50% of them are eccentrics in a shawl or odd hat. One can picture the hospital ward right out of a black and white movie, bare iron beds, shiny tile floors, women nurses with pointy white hats and starched uniforms jotting things down in the chart.
OK, this is supposed to be science fiction, so foreseeing that mobile phones might be in our future should not have been such a huge stretch even for a book written in 1993. This is especially vexing since the plot leans heavily on main characters running off to find a phone, or just missing a key phone call, etc. And, in 2048 will one comely and kindly local doctor and a few nurses be expected to handle an epidemic of SARS proportions on their own? It seems so at odds with the bureaucratic and journalistic frenzy that such things cause. The future in this book just seems very thin on people and new technology (not even new by 2004 standards). Oh, but a time machine? Well in 2048 THAT you can find in the basement of just about any ivy covered history dept. building. Just no cell phones.
I did, however, like the way that the author handled the time paradox issues (e.g.
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Most recent customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Not what I was expecting: ( Couldn't even finish ...
Not what I was expecting :( Couldn't even finish it...
Published 1 month ago by ZoeKegan
5.0 out of 5 stars wonderful read
A really exciting read and as a historian I loved it. I have read many time travel books but never with historians as the main characters. I can't wait to start on the next one
Published 2 months ago by linda kerr
4.0 out of 5 stars powerful, sad and silly
This book is by turns powerful, sad and silly. The time travel story taking place in the near future is a little fussy and silly; the time travel story in the medieval past feels... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Richard G. Schwindt
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the greats, never mind SF
Those expecting a predictable SF story may be puzzled by this novel. While ostensibly using a SF framework, this book captures the human condition as well as any work in the... Read more
Published on Oct. 18 2011 by lexie2
2.0 out of 5 stars Bland and boring
It's an interesting concept, but there's not really anything there. The characters are uninteresting placeholders, the plot *incredibly* slow, and several key story components are... Read more
Published on Feb. 15 2011 by C. Samuelsson

The book starts in Oxford, England in 2048 during an attack of an unknown... Read more
Published on May 4 2010 by Carole A. Freeman
5.0 out of 5 stars This is not Hollywood
The time is the mid-twenty-first century, and the development of time travel has changed history from a scholarly discipline to one involving direct observation. Read more
Published on June 7 2008 by Greg Slade
5.0 out of 5 stars Well written, interesting, but VERY sad
This book was very engaging emotionally, without insulting your intelligence about time travel (you know who you are, Michael Crichton!). Read more
Published on July 7 2004 by Christopher P. Ware
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfection
Connie Willis is simply one of the finest contemporary SF writers and here is the proof. I bought this book on a whim after reading the cover blurb. Read more
Published on July 6 2004 by Trixie
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