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Doomsday Book [Mass Market Paperback]

Connie Willis
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (344 customer reviews)
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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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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
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the greats, never mind SF Oct. 18 2011
By lexie2
Format:Mass Market Paperback
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 English lit canon. The sadness and pathos of life, the many kinds of human love, and the transcendent human spirit are all here. This is SF in the same way as The Road is SF.

In The Bleak Midwinter, Kivrin meets people of another era who are being plunged into a disaster they cannot escape, nor even begin to understand. Yet they are heart-breaking in their just being-ness. I will love (and hate them) them always, as though I'd met them myself. I believe in them completely. This is because Connie Willis somehow broke through the bounds of fiction and touched the real, hard though that is to describe.

If you read this book, you will time travel too, and find yourself in the world that is true in all times.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Concept, Uninteresting Book Nov. 4 1997
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I probably would not have finished this book if it did not win the Hugo and Nebula award. I kept on saying to myself that there must have been a reason this book won. Must have been a weak field that year. The beginning is slow, the middle is slightly interesting, the end comes abruptly.
The time travel concept was unremarkable except for the fact that if I had invented time travel, I would have required much smarter people to run the system. Most of the characters are 1 dimensional. A lot of what happens does not have the ring of plausibility. Suspense is made by having one character blatantly withholding information from the reader not once, but several times. He has very important information, but somehow he just never gets around to telling everyone about it.

Normally, I don't care if characters are 1 dimensional , just as long as it is a good read and characters behave somewhat plausibly. However, the plot moves too slow and you just don't care about the characters towards the end.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Bland and boring Feb. 15 2011
Format:Mass Market Paperback
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 never explained, in a way that doesn't seem intentionally mysterious, just lazy. I would say the majority of the book was quite tedious. It wasn't completely terrible, and if you're in the mood for some light historical fiction with a small scope it's not a bad choice. However, all the action that takes place in the novel's "present day" is extremely bland and felt like work to read.

I was really disappointed, because I have enjoyed pretty much every Hugo-winning book I have read up to today. I finished A Fire Upon the Deep (which tied for the 1993 Hugo with The Domesday Book) recently and while it wasn't incredible, it was a far sight more interesting and suspenseful.
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Format:Mass Market Paperback
BEST TIME TRAVEL TO THE PAST -ABOSORBING, FASCINATING, A BOOK I COULD READ AGAIN AND AGAIN!~

The book starts in Oxford, England in 2048 during an attack of an unknown virus...At the same time a History Student is sent back into time to complete her doctorate. (Note: Only Historian's are able to time travel in 2048). Due to effects of the virus on the transporter, the historian is accidently, transported to 14th Century England during the Black Plague. Not only is there a struggle to get the historian returned to 2048 but she must struggle to stay alive in a villiage that is ranpant with the horrors of the plague. Death and suffering is all around her. This is a very gripping, horrific and emotional story with some of the most memorable characters. I had the feeling I was living through the black death too, it felt that real! I read this book many, many years ago and have never forgotten it. Now that Connie Willis has come out with 'BLACKOUT', the same wonderful time travelling team from Oxford, I felt I must let other reader know how wonderful this book was and believe me "Blackout" is just as fab.! If you love Time Travel you will love this book!

Connie Willis has written some of the most enjoyable books I have read such as: To Say Nothing of the Dog; Bellwether; Lincoln's Dreams; Passages; Blackout; Fire watch, and many more
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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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Most recent customer reviews
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 Great Book - Great Premise
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. Read more
Published on March 20 2005 by NorthVan Dave
5.0 out of 5 stars Wish I could put SIX stars...
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. Read more
Published on July 11 2004
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
4.0 out of 5 stars Full past and thin future
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. Read more
Published on July 7 2004 by Shady Ave Reader
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
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable, If Not Brilliant
Time-travel fiction is its own subgenre of science fiction, and pretty much anyone who reads sci-fi has their own take on it. Read more
Published on July 4 2004 by A. Ross
5.0 out of 5 stars You are there
A time traveler visits the Middle Ages and finds she may not be able to return -- and the Black Death is devestating Europe. Read more
Published on June 13 2004 by A. Anderson
5.0 out of 5 stars The ultimate time travel book
For the second time around, I am amazed by the character development in this book and Willis' ability to bring people and situations alive. Read more
Published on June 4 2004 by Jill Zimmer
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