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4.0 out of 5 stars This is the payoff that Blackout needed
To me, All Clear, the second volume of this story, is what makes reading the pair worthwhile.

It largely avoids the pacing pitfalls of Blackout, because the momentum has already been thoroughly ramped up. I enjoyed watching how established events were woven together, even the ones I had seen coming a mile off (and there were at least a couple of proper...
Published on 13 Dec. 2011 by J. Irish

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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Overlong but diverting enough
This is the second and final part of the time travel story set in WWII started in Black Out. You can't really read All Clear without reading Black Out, so don't start with this part if you haven't already read the first.
The story of our three students from 2060 stuck in WWII continues and it suffers from the problems that Black Out had, namely that it takes another...
Published on 27 Mar. 2011 by John Tierney


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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Overlong but diverting enough, 27 Mar. 2011
By 
John Tierney (Wirral, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: All Clear (Hugo Award Winner - Best Novel) (Hardcover)
This is the second and final part of the time travel story set in WWII started in Black Out. You can't really read All Clear without reading Black Out, so don't start with this part if you haven't already read the first.
The story of our three students from 2060 stuck in WWII continues and it suffers from the problems that Black Out had, namely that it takes another 641 pages to resolve everything. When you add that to Black Out's page tally we are talking a total of over 1100 pages, which is just far too long. As I also said in my Black Out review I am a big fan of Willis, but with her time travel stories there is just too much spinning out of the story. Things almost - but not quite - happen again and again and again. It's really frustrating.
Not to say that the scope, ideas and detail are not good - they are, especially the detail. There is lots of good stuff in here about how the Allies tried to fool the Germans into thinking the Normandy landings would happen elsewhere, and this is at least partially based on fact. And really interesting. But the number of times Michael, Merope and Polly almost get rescued/work everything out but don't quite manage it this time starts to frustrate.
I think the book is somewhat saved by the details mentioned above and also some plot twists that I didn't see coming - but they just take far to long to happen.
I wish Willis would put her books on diets - if she did they would be small masterpieces of wit and intelligence. For an example of this see Bellwether.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Infuriating!, 3 Jan. 2012
By 
Brian J. Cox (Kirkcudbrightshire, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: All Clear (Paperback)
The good news is that "All Clear" is an improvement on "Blackout", the first part of this novel that turned out so long that it only seems to go by the name of its two parts, "Blackout/All Clear". "Tinhead" and "J. Irish" have summed up its strengths and weakness perfectly in their reviews: in "Blackout" the time-travelling protagonists investigating different aspects of World War Two were all involved in their separate activities, and we had a soap opera with masses of very dull detail and next to no dramatic tension. In "All Clear" the time-travellers find each other in London and begin to seek a way out of their predicament, which is that they are stuck in the middle of the Blitz because their time gates won't open. This brings some genuine dramatic tension to the book, and you begin to care a bit about the characters. The time complications start to become more interesting, and Connie Willis's enormous amount of research begins to pay dividends. And in the end she makes a pretty good job (in so far as anyone can!) of resolving the time paradoxes. And yet! ... the book remains infuriating: like "Blackout", it is still far too long, too soapy, and too full of dull minutiae. If only the book had been 300 or 400 pages long rather than well over 1,000, we could have had a terrific time travel novel fully deserving of the Hugo and Nebula Awards it has won, instead of simply rewarding Connie Willis's undoubted effort and her status in the American science fiction community.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 3.5 stars overall., 8 April 2012
By 
StarPlayer (B'ham England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: All Clear (Paperback)
PART A: BLACKOUT 4 stars
PART B: ALL CLEAR 3 stars (NOT A STANDALONE - YOU HAVE TO READ BLACKOUT FIRST).

Oxford in 2060 is a chaotic place, with scores of time-traveling historians being sent into the past. Michael Davies is prepping to go to Pearl Harbor. Merope Ward is coping with a bunch of bratty 1940 evacuees and trying to talk her thesis adviser into letting her go to VE-Day. Polly Churchill's next assignment will be as a shopgirl in the middle of London's Blitz.

But now the time-travel lab is suddenly canceling assignments and switching around everyone's schedules. And when Michael, Merope, and Polly finally get to World War II, things just get worse. For there they face air raids, blackouts, and dive-bombing Stukas--to say nothing of a growing feeling that not only their assignments but the war and history itself are spiraling out of control.

Because suddenly the once-reliable mechanisms of time travel are showing significant glitches, and our heroes are beginning to question their most firmly held belief: that no historian can possibly change the past.

Overall I enjoyed the story. The problems came when there was a time lapse between me reading book 1A and book 1b (this is one book spit into two parts). I had a bit of difficulty trying to remember what had gone on in Blackout. Then Polly really frustrated me when she withheld information from Mike and Eileen.

Really, this book needed to be trimmed down, and I'm blaming her editor for that.

I also got frustrated with the inner monologues/thoughts of the individuals which just seemed to go on and on.

Finally, sorry to be dim, but what did the ending mean? Was Colin Merope's great grandchild? I was puzzled by the ending and read it three times, but I still can't tell. Someone PLEASE leave and comment and clue me in.

I enjoyed it, but I wouldn't read it again.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Bloated and packed full of howlers, 13 Nov. 2013
This review is from: All Clear (Kindle Edition)
Warning, this is a continuation of Blackout. There is no summary of the story so far and neither book stands alone. You cannot read this volume before or without the first. The actual story could have been edited down to a quarter of the two volumes but the highly irritating padding of Blackout continues unabated for a while. Marketing ploy to double the revenue, attempt to somehow disguise bloating, you judge.

Blackout made me angry and bored. But I had already bought All Clear (pre-warned it was in 2 parts and this was holiday reading matter) so my masochism stepped in. I hadn't got to the first sentence and was fuming. The dedication lists the groups of people "who won the war" including debutants and mystery novelists (what?) but fails to mention the servicemen and women or the thousands of women who toiled in the munitions and other wartime industry factories targeted by the Luftwaffe. So we start with an insult by omission.

Then the usual clutch of howlers. Nelson's Monument again, transposed from Edinburgh once more I suppose. Or could it be Nelson's Column maybe. The Edgware stretchers and bandages discrepancy reported as being in Blackout soon appears. Did no-one at all proof read this book before publication? It changes from stretchers to bandages on the same page. Then back to stretchers on the next. Ah the good old pre-decimal tuppenny coin. I'm sure I would have remembered them had they existed. Which they didn't apart from ceremonial Maundy half groats, not minted since George III. And I'm not that old. Flight Officer, addressed as Officer? A WW2 US and WAAF military rank not an RAF one. That would be Flight Lieutenant.

V-2 rockets took 4 seconds to reach their target meaning they were launched 4 miles from their target or travelled at near 100,000 miles an hour. Neither really credible. 4 minutes maybe. Only out by a factor of 60. But we know mathematics is not Ms Willis' strongest point. Not as bad as the cross-Atlantic Dunkirk Evacuation in Blackout I suppose. Two theatre tickets, priced 8 shillings and sixpence. Paid for with 2 half crowns which total 5 shillings. Told you maths is not a Willis forte. Nor is geography. Barts to St Paul's. It's miles and the trains've stopped running. Did this journey myself a month ago. It's a few hundred yards, a couple of minutes to walk not 3 hours in a cab. So geography is also a problem. Bethnal Green ambulances operating in Croydon also defies logic, an hour's journey on a good day. Trafalgar Square to St Paul's via Westminster Abbey, you're walking the wrong way and supposed to be in a hurry. But long distances that take no time and short distances that take an age seem a common Willis fault.

There is an almost fatalistic certainty amongst the characters that they or others will be killed at any moment. The vicar going off to war "was almost certain to be killed". He wasn't and you know that as he pops up alive in the future before that line appears (it is time travel in case that sounds weird). In fact less than 1% of the UK population were killed in the whole period. That is still a phenomenal number but significantly less than deaths through natural causes. In the military less than 10% died. One should not be dismissive of the death toll but neither should one seek to over-egg facts for dramatic and essentially entertainment effect; it's dreadfully offensive to take such literary liberties with someone else's recent and tragic history.

I noticed it much more at the start of this volume: the interminable and repetitive speculation on the part of the characters as to their cause of their plight. I want the cause not the speculation, which is probably intended to build suspense and tension but the dim halfwit characters just can't carry it. Jumping randomly from year to year and back again, the same characters under different names, is very confusing and difficult to keep track of. Perhaps one factor in the proofreading error count. But the second half of this volume, so 75% into the whole novel, picks up the pace and the storytelling improves if you can ignore the factual blunders. Unfortunately, I'd worked out the true plot a lot earlier and whilst I'd hoped I'd got it wrong and was in for a surprise, the efforts at misdirection were feeble. For all its length the ending was a let down and unsatisfactory. Like there's another volume still in there, God forbid.

The historian observers are supposed to get jobs to blend in. But they pick jobs that inevitably cannot fail to alter events and then spend most of the time wringing their hands about every trivial thing they do altering events before repeating time travellers can't change history over 20 times across both volumes. OK I get it. It is that level of repetitiveness, 20+ iterations of the same line, that drives you to despair. Why are you telling me this 20 times?

Blackout / All Clear is a potentially interesting concept badly researched, badly proofread, badly edited. Bloated and repetitive, boring and slow until the last quarter where it improves. If you edited out the trivia and hand-wringing that adds nothing, and get the facts right, it may have worked as a single volume story. As it stands it is just wrong on so many levels. Even some Willis fans seem to be quite critical and unforgiving. I'd like to give stars for effort - this two volume novel must have taken an age to write. But quantity of words does not equal quality and it is the mistakes in the trivial things that pad out the work that are its undoing in so many ways. Not recommended though I did enjoy the pacier last quarter, predictable as it was. I won't be buying another Willis book as I felt cheated. If this had been a different type of product I'd have sent it back like a bucket with a hole due to the errors. Unfortunately consumer protection laws don't protect against faulty works of fiction.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Return From World War II, 9 July 2012
This review is from: All Clear (Paperback)
In "All Clear", Connie Willis finishes the story she started in "Blackout". "All Clear" was published on October 19th, 2010. Somewhat longer than the first installment, "Blackout", the pace of the story is consistent and there are no major changes in how the tale progresses. The combination of "Blackout" and "All Clear" won the 2011 Hugo, Nebula, and Locus Awards and they were also a finalist for the 2011 Campbell Memorial award and finished 7th on the SF Site Poll for 2011. Neither of these books can stand on their own, so treating them as a single work is the obviously correct choice.

By itself, "All Clear" is nearly 650 pages, so one can understand the decision to split it into two volumes. However, there was another choice which should have been considered, and that would have been to edit it down to a more manageable length, which would also have helped with the pace of the overall story. In reading both books, I felt that it would have been better to make some cuts, and lose a bit of the wonderful research material, to benefit the overall work. I can't point to any specific part that should have been cut, but rather it would have been a decision made at a higher level to edit and handle the material in a different matter, rather than simply cutting chapters from the current books.

The excess material and slow pace do not destroy this work, but they do turn what could have been an amazing work into something which is rather average. Specifically, by the time the cause of the issues facing the time travelers is resolved, it is anti-climatic and had about zero impact. When I compare that feeling to what I had after reading Willis' other works, it just doesn't measure up to her best works. Of course, these books did take home the major awards, so feel free to ignore my input, or better yet read the books and make up your own mind.
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4.0 out of 5 stars This is the payoff that Blackout needed, 13 Dec. 2011
This review is from: All Clear (Hugo Award Winner - Best Novel) (Hardcover)
To me, All Clear, the second volume of this story, is what makes reading the pair worthwhile.

It largely avoids the pacing pitfalls of Blackout, because the momentum has already been thoroughly ramped up. I enjoyed watching how established events were woven together, even the ones I had seen coming a mile off (and there were at least a couple of proper surprises).

The characters at last all seem to find a real purpose in their 'new' lives--well, except perhaps Polly--and it's nice to see them raise their game and realise that they need to 'do their bit' in order to survive. This makes the connection to the past more believable and significant.

Depictions of the historical settings were one of the novel's greatest attributes. I don't care much for history normally, but so many things about the daily lives of people in the war were just so INTERESTING that I kept wanting to look things up and see if they really happened or if they were only part of the book. I resisted, because I didn't want to give myself spoilers, but on the next reading, you can be sure I'll have my browser at the ready.

The major disappointment was that there is still a nagging sensation that the author is trying to convince us of the dire urgency of various situations by merely telling us they are urgent, more and more loudly, rather than supplying an adequate amount of believably threatening narrative. It isn't possible to detach oneself and think the characters really might be facing the end of the world, or that they really are in mortal danger. The result is that the characters' underlying motivations are never completely convincing, and they are all a bit more shallow for it.

Yet, although All Clear isn't Ms Willis's best offering, I think she is a hero herself for lending so much dignity to the memories of those lost in the war, and of those who won it--and giving them a way of living on in the future.
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4.0 out of 5 stars You need to read Blackout first to really understand the story but if you love historical fiction and don't mind a character dri, 27 Oct. 2014
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This review is from: All Clear (Kindle Edition)
Quick Review: You need to read Blackout first to really understand the story but if you love historical fiction and don't mind a character driven book I would recommend it but if you are looking for more of a science fiction book with big battles and drama I wouldn't.

I have been reading all the joint Hugo/Nebula winners and after reading Doomsday book (Another by Connie Willis) I was really looking forward to reading All Clear/Blackout. I didn't enjoy them as much as I enjoyed Doomsday book but that isn't to say I didn't enjoy them because I did. There are 5 major story lines (Three main characters that get stuck in WWII and then "present day" Oxford-2026) that you follow and you jump between all them chapter by chapter. The downside is you don't get to hear much about what is happening in oxford which I missed, considering it is clear that something is going on. That being said I did enjoy the different stories during WWII and I though it was well researched and gave you a different perspective than what you would find in a history book.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A suspenseful science fiction novel of the first rank, 21 Oct. 2010
By 
MarkK (Phoenix, AZ, USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: All Clear (Hugo Award Winner - Best Novel) (Hardcover)
Connie Willis's latest novel picks up exactly where the last one, Blackout, left off, with the young 21st century historians Polly Churchill, Merope Ward, and Michael Ward trapped in England during the Blitz. Having finally located each other, the three struggle to survive in war-ravaged London, desperately attempting to locate other time travelers and trying to contact the future to alert them to their plight. Adding to their urgency is a deadline Polly faces, when she must depart before her presence on an earlier trip jeopardizes her existence. And preying upon all of them is the growing fear that their actions may have changed the past and undone the future to which there are trying to return.

As she does in her previous novel, Willis interweaves the narratives of multiple characters amidst a vivid portrait of wartime England and the perils her characters face. This often can be confusing, but her richly detailed plot rewards the reader, gradually revealing its secrets as developments unfold. In this respect, it is unfortunate that the two volumes were published separately, as both are required to fully appreciate her success in developing a carefully layered narrative. Together they combine to create a suspenseful work of the first caliber, one in which many of the themes characteristic of her work - single-minded characters whose agendas interfere with the plans of the protagonists, the impact of technology on personal lives, the effort to cope with tragedy and loss - are on full display. Fans of well-written science fiction or historical works will enjoy her gripping and intricate novel, one that is sure to become one of the classics of the genre.
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5.0 out of 5 stars As a fellow Author it is great to see someone achieve so much, 25 Jan. 2015
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This review is from: All Clear (Paperback)
This is connies follow up book to 'Blackout'. both were a totally riveting read. I don't want to say anyhting too much that would ruin the story for you but you need to buy both books at once and have a week's holiday. They are fast passed and will blow your socks off.

As a fellow Author it is great to see someone achieve so much. Check out my latest Novel 'Adventures into Danger' Slick Moaners first adventures.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Complicated but good!, 28 Sept. 2012
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This review is from: All Clear (Kindle Edition)
This is a sequel to a previous book 'Blackout' so I would recommend reading that first.It was brilliant to be able to download this book on to my kindle having read 'Blackout' then realising the book didn't finish the story! It is a really good, gripping read but can be quite complicated. Anyone that read The Time Travellers Wife will know it takes a while to 'get your head round' time travel!
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All Clear (Hugo Award Winner - Best Novel)
All Clear (Hugo Award Winner - Best Novel) by Connie Willis (Hardcover - 19 Oct. 2010)
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