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Doomsday Book Mass Market Paperback – 1 Dec 1993


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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 578 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam USA; Reprint edition (1 Dec. 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553562738
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553562736
  • Product Dimensions: 10.6 x 3.2 x 17.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (224 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 680,386 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

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Clare O'Beara TOP 500 REVIEWER on 4 Aug. 2012
Format: School & Library Binding
Kivrin, a time travelling scholar, has got permission to visit Oxford in the fourteenth century. She's been inoculated against diseases including the plague just in case, but she is so keen to go she doesn't tell anyone that she had a bad reaction to the plague shot so it may not have conferred immunity. She's accidentally sent to a village just as the first people fleeing the town reach it and one of them is sick... the plague starts to spread.
We've met and got to like several local townspeople by now, through Kivrin's language memory tapes which imperfectly translate for her. What can she do to help?
Back in her own time there is a spreading flu which prevents anyone getting Kivrin back and winter makes travel difficult both in advanced Britain and in 1320. The Oxford bellringers turn out regardless and bells are a constant theme throughout the book.
There are funny moments with pompous officious people being mocked in both eras and there are sad moments aplenty. There is plenty of squalor and hardship in 1320 and Kivrin can't believe how the poor people live, in wattle huts that barely keep wind off and don't keep heat in.
Read this, a wonderful achievement.
Then to cheer yourself up read To Say Nothing of The Dog, a lighter romp through Victorian England by more time travellers, which is equally good.
Both have won SF awards.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Stroppy brunette on 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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 3 Mar. 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book really isn't sci-fi - it uses time travel as a way of introducing the middle ages. Anyone expecting technical marvels will be disappointed. Instead this is a very solid, emotional story. I'm a 29-yo male computer engineer and I almost cried at the end. The lack of technical detail didn't bother me. In fact, it was refreshing because so many sci-fi authors try to describe tech in great detail and just end up showing how little they really understand. This book is about the plague, carries a great many details of the 1300's and is a story that educates and involves the reader. The characters are most certainly not cardboard - people who say that just read this book for the wrong reasons. My only nitpick is that the very end (the rescue) was too predictable, and I skimmed most of it because I knew what was going to happen. Perhaps the part I liked the most wa sthe brutal reality of things not going the way of the main characters in either time periods. I've had days like that myself.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful By "esigvallius" on 18 Feb. 2002
Format: Paperback
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Palito del Monte on 26 Jan. 2014
Format: Paperback
This book could be more appropriately categorized as historical fiction rather than sci-fi (for those who like pidgeon-holing), but either way, it certainly deserves to be in a collection of "Masterworks". Willis uses the sci-fi tool of time travel as a vehicle to allow her to transport the reader from now (or her 1992 vision of what "now" would be like in 2054, that is) back to the 14th century. So the book cleverly splices together two parallel tales, with scenes and characters from the 21st and 14th centuries seeming to mirror each other, despite the 700 year gap. As others have pointed out, there are a few unexplainable holes in the 21st century side of the story which make it less credible than it could have been, but this is more than made up for by her superbly researched portrayal of the 14th century. This is obviously the period which Willis is really interested in exploring and portraying in this book, and this seems to be reflected in the quality of the writing: the 14th century part of the novel flows naturally, draws you in, makes you believe you're actually there, and will leave you utterly shocked and emotionally drained (which is just what I want from a book!).

Such a good book that I was almost tempted to go for the full 5 stars, despite some of the 21st century chapters which occasionally dragged on a little and left me feeling almost indifferent to the fate of some of the characters.

By the way, some bright spark decided to publish a major spoiler on the back cover of this SF Masterworks edition, thereby ruining the mid-novel surprise which Connie Willis lines up for the reader. Infuriating! (so buy the book but don't read the blurb on the back)
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