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Bookmarks Issue: 
53-July-Aug-2011
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missing imageAward-winning science fiction author Connie Willis was recently inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame for such critically acclaimed novels as Doomsday Book (1992) and To Say Nothing of the Dog (1998). All Clear completes the two-volume time-travel epic begun in Blackout (3.5 of 5 Stars May/June 2010), and the two books together won the 2010 Nebula Award for Best Novel. All Clear has been nominated for the 2011 Hugo Award for Best Novel.

The Story: By the end of Blackout, three time-traveling Oxford historians--Polly Churchill, Michael Davies, and Merope Ward--have found themselves stranded in London during the Blitz. Struggling to survive the chaos and hardships of war, the three work together to find a way back to the year 2060, but they soon begin to suspect that their actions have irrevocably altered the course of history and may even have cost the Allies the victory. They become increasingly desperate when they discover that, because Polly previously visited June 1943, she will die if she doesn't leave by then. Meanwhile, back in the 21st century, Professor Dunworthy and his associates work frantically to recover the trio.
Spectra. 656 pages. $26. ISBN: 9780553807677

Denver Post 4 of 5 Stars
"Yes, Colorado writer and science fiction novelist nonpareil Connie Willis bit off a bit more than she needed to chew on when cobbling up Blackout ... and its companion novel (or, rather, second half), All Clear. ... But unlike most writers, even when chewing on a literary mouthful, Willis can tell a story so packed with thrills, comedy, drama and a bit of red herring that the result is apt to satisfy the most discriminating, and hungry, reader." Dorman T. Shindler

SF Reviews.net 4 of 5 Stars
All Clear, while longer than Blackout, is a much faster-paced and suspenseful work. Together they add up to a monumental achievement from a writer who's already given SF plenty of reasons to hold her to high standards." Thomas M. Wagner

SFFWorld.com 4 of 5 Stars
"This is a pleasure, from a formidable writer whose storytelling skills are still a treat. I'm very pleased to write that this book sustains its tale for over 1,000 pages and it is a wonderfully thrilling and compelling immersive story with characters you care about." Mark Yon

io9.com 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Though this novel is richly emotional and full of historical detail, it stumbles when Willis has to account for the [details of time travel]. ... That said, both Blackout and All Clear make for a compelling, rich historical story whose characters are drawn in loving detail. And Willis' attention to detail is more than enough to make up for problems with plotting." Annalee Newitz

Wall Street Journal 3.5 of 5 Stars
"While her future is barely sketched out (we never learn much about the politics or technology of the later 21st century), her re-creation of wartime England is meticulous, energetic and exhaustive. ... Often, All Clear reads like a simon-pure historical novel." Paul Di Filippo

Critical Summary

Although the critics expressed initial misgivings over the novel's length, they were pleasantly surprised by Willis's ability to sustain tension and narrative momentum throughout All Clear. On the other hand, Willis's profound characterizations and painstaking recreation of 1940s England benefit greatly from the measured unfolding of her plot. Most of the critics considered her treatment of the paradoxes and consequences of time travel thought-provoking, but io9.com was dismayed by what it perceived as religious overtones, and the Wall Street Journal complained that the mid-21st century was rather elusive when compared to the richly detailed 20th century. A testament to humanity and heroism as well as an edge-of-your-seat sci-fi adventure, All Clear includes "some of the strongest storytelling of [Willis's] career" (SF Reviews.net).