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Doomsday Book [Mass Market Paperback]

Connie Willis
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (212 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Dec 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.

Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 578 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam USA; Reprint edition (Dec 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553562738
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553562736
  • Product Dimensions: 17.3 x 10.7 x 3.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (212 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 553,656 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

Connie Willis laboured 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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

A Hugo and Nebula Award-winning novel of plague and time travel by an SFWA Grand Master of Science Ficiton. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant 8 Oct 2000
This is one of my all time favourite books.
The author's evocation of fourteenth century England is brilliant. She has not shied away from the dirt and the stink that undoubtedly existed. This is no lords and ladies rose petal fantasy; she focusses on rats, dirt, lack of washing and the gory details of the Black Death itself. Yet despite this, the book has a lyrical beauty, with solid belivable characters.The story too, is engrossing - will the heroine get back to the present day? will they all die of the Plague? You keep reading becuase you want to know, and because you end up caring about the people.
Even if you don't care for Sci-Fi/Fantasy, you will enjoy this. The emphasis is more on the historical aspects, and you can read it as a historical novel if you like. The book manages to be both romantic and unsentimental and at the same time, ultimately very moving.
Highly recommended
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Living history 24 Mar 2006
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is one of the best books I have ever read. Kivrin, a time-travelling historian, is mistakenly sent back to a Medieval village near Oxford as the Black Death is about to strike, and sees all around her succumb to the Plague. At the same time, in her home time, a flu pandemic is laying waste to Oxford, stopping any attempts to find her and bring her home. Unlikely as it may sound, this novel also contains some wonderful comic moments - William, Mrs Gaddson, Finch and the American bellringers, to name but a few. I am absolutely caught up in this story and unable to put it down every time I read it.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Once you start, you can't put the book down. 18 Feb 2002
The evocation of the sheer nastiness of the 14th Century is brilliant. There is mounting horror as the natives of that century succumb to the Black Death over a Christmas period, witnessed by the appalled time-travelling scholar from our own near future. Some of the scenes are heartrending, as there is plenty of time to get attached to the characters before they start to become ill.
In alternate chapters the contemporary situation in Oxford at Christmas is explored, where an outbreak of highly contagious and fatal flu has broken out, thereby preventing a rescue party from setting up the equipment necessary for retrieving the scholar. The quarantine, medicalisation and bureaucracy of the situation in contemporary Oxford contrasts sharply with the superstition, dubious medicines and appeals to the Almighty that exemplify the 14th Century.
If it sounds unrelentingly grim; it isn't. There is a lot of humour, with fun being poked at characters who are vain and officious in BOTH centuries.
Anyone who has lived in/ studied in/ visited Oxford will find much to recognise in the description of the town, especially the University. Immerse yourself in this book over a summer's day, and you will surface from it as I did: wondering why it isn't freezing cold and surprised to find that you're still healthy!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my all-time favourite books!! 26 Nov 2012
By Jan
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I am so delighted to see that this book is back in print. I'm not much of an SF fan, but I do love good historical fiction so when a friend recommended this to me way back in the early 1990s I did read it and it has been a firm favourite ever since. In this wonderfully researched story, our heroine Kivrin travels back in time to 14th century England from her (slightly in the future) Oxford College, where she is studying history. What a way to study history!! The plan is that she will return to her studies equipped with a firsthand knowledge of all things medieval, but things don't go to plan. There was a slight error in the programming and Kivrin becomes stranded in an area that is being consumed by the Black Death. She knows she has immunity from this plague, so she tries so hard to help the people around her but gradually they all get sick. Meanwhile back in Oxford another sickness is sweeping through the area, reducing Kivrin's chances of ever getting back to her own time. This is a great read. I am delighted that it is available again. My only complaint is that I loved the original cover and this new one doesn't really work for me.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The book was touching but often quite tedious to plod through. I usually enjoy Sci-Fi, factual history and historical fiction. Unfortunately the plot required a considerable suspension of disbelief. For example, though part of the novel is set in 2054 people are hard to get hold of, protagonists have to wait for long-distance telephone calls, characters are out of contact with each other, there's no internet, no mobile phones. I like to read speculation of future tech, but in this novel 2054 seems more like an alternate version of 1980. Despite the length of the novel there is virtually no discussion nor description of the societal structures nor of the time-travel technology. Time travel is apparently available only to squabbling history departments of academic institutions. The lives and interactions of the characters in the 14th Century seem less implausible. The unfortunate fates of many of the 14th Century 'natives' were quite harrowing. I did find the book a bit of a chore to read, but ultimately quite moving, despite its flaws.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I've been reading Connie Willis for a few years, mostly her wonderful, humorous short stories. When I finally read Doomsday Book, I was very impressed with her ability to develop her characters so that I cared. The book mixes some great middle-ages plague history, not normally a very interesting time, with some modern English time travel. The result is a most powerful novel. When I finished the book I was exhausted. I would definitely recommend it and list it on the top ten books I have read. It still haunts me.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars An involving and deeply moving book
A well written book filled with the voices of people living through experiences that broke society. This book is deeply moving and so well crafted that you can't put it down. Bravo
Published 1 month ago by Brown Bear
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Fun read!
Published 1 month ago by tracee
2.0 out of 5 stars There seemed to be far too much waffling going on and I really hated...
It was an interesting idea however I feel that the execution fell short. There seemed to be far too much waffling going on and I really hated how meek she became when she went into... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Q
5.0 out of 5 stars amazing book
The writing was excellent. The story a slow burner that grabbed you by the thrust. I hated that it had to finish
Published 1 month ago by bagreenway
5.0 out of 5 stars The human side of SciFi
I can't believe I've only just come across Connie Willis! Sat up to the wee small hours utterly entranced by this novel and finished it very quickly. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Jane Easton
5.0 out of 5 stars Poignant
Very much a book for people who like science fiction and the fourteenth century. Although the blurb gives away the twist, it's still very moving when it becomes clear what's going... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Cas
2.0 out of 5 stars Tedious beyond belief
I wanted to like this book I really did, it just feels so much like and aga saga with a 14th century romantic fiction sub plot. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Whalebone
4.0 out of 5 stars A book of two halves.
It is the future. At Oxford university, a breakthrough in time-travel allows researchers to visit the past in order to research historical periods in person. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Davywavy2
5.0 out of 5 stars very good book
This book is very interesting. If you read this book you might get involved emotionally with the characters. This book was quite an unusual take on the sci fi time travel theme.
Published 4 months ago by AlanRobertson
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
I bought this book because my friend did the cover art for it, turns out it's also a really good read. The perfect balance of history and characterisation
Published 5 months ago by Tim Auty
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