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Oxford Time Travel Series, Book 1

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.

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.

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    Come then: Let us to the task, to the battle, to the toil--each to our part, each to our station, there is not a week, nor a day, nor an hour to lose.--winston churchill

    1940
    Oxford--April 2060

    Colin tried the door, but it was locked. The porter, Mr. Purdy, obviously hadn't known what he was talking about when he'd said Mr. Dunworthy had gone to Research. Blast it. I should have known he wasn't here, Colin thought. Only historians prepping for assignments came to Research. Perhaps Mr. Dunworthy'd told Mr. Purdy he was going to do research, in which case he'd be in the Bodleian Library.

    Colin went over to the Bodleian, but Mr. Dunworthy wasn't there either. I'll have to go ask his secretary, Colin thought, loping back to Balliol. He wished Finch was still Mr. Dunworthy's secretary instead of this new person Eddritch, who would probably ask a lot of questions. Finch wouldn't have asked any, and he'd have not only told him where Mr. Dunworthy was, but what sort of mood he was in.

    Colin ran up to Mr. Dunworthy's rooms first, on the off chance Mr. Purdy hadn't seen Mr. Dunworthy come back in, but he wasn't there either. Then he ran across to Beard, up the stairs, and into the outer office. "I need to see Mr. Dunworthy," he said. "It's important. Can you tell me where--?"

    Eddritch looked at him coldly. "Did you have an appointment, Mr.--?"

    "Templer," Colin said. "No, I--"

    "Are you an undergraduate here at Balliol?"

    Colin debated saying yes, but Eddritch was the sort who would check to see if he was. "No, I will be next year."

    "If you're applying to be a student at Oxford, you need the Provost's Office in Longwall Street."

    "I'm not applying to be a student. I'm a friend of Mr. Dunworthy's--"

    "Oh, Mr. Dunworthy has told me about you." He frowned. "I thought you were at Eton."

    "We're on holiday," Colin lied. "It's vital that I see Mr. Dunworthy. If you could tell me where he--"

    "What did you wish to see him about?"

    My future, Colin thought. And it's none of your business, but that obviously wouldn't get him anywhere. "It's in regard to an historical assignment. It's urgent. If you could just tell me where he is, I--" he began, but Eddritch had already opened the appointment book. "Mr. Dunworthy can't see you until the end of next week."

    Which will be too late. Blast, I need to see him now, before Polly comes back.

    "I can give you an appointment at one o'clock on the nineteenth," Eddritch was saying. "Or at half past nine on the twenty-eighth."

    What part of the word "urgent" do you not understand? Colin thought. "Never mind," he said and went back downstairs and out to the gate to see if he could get any more information out of Mr. Purdy. "Are you certain Research was where he said he was going?" he asked the porter, and when he said yes, "Did he say where he was going after that?"

    "No. You might try the lab. He's been spending a good deal of time there these past few days. Or if he's not there, Mr. Chaudhuri may know where he is."

    And if he's not there I can ask Badri when Polly's scheduled to come back. "I'll try the lab," Colin said, debating whether to ask him to tell Mr. Dunworthy he was looking for him if he returned. No, better not. Forewarned was forearmed. He'd have a better chance if he sprang it on him suddenly. "Thanks," he said and ran down to the High and over to the lab.

    Mr. Dunworthy wasn't there. The only two people who were were Badri and a pretty tech who didn't look any older than the girls at school. They were both bent over the console. "I need the coordinates for October fourth, 1950," Badri said. "And--what are you...

About the Author-
  • Connie Willis, who was recently inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame, has received six Nebula Awards and ten Hugo Awards for her fiction; her previous novel, Passage, was nominated for both. Her other works include Doomsday Book, Lincoln's Dreams, Bellwether, Impossible Things, Remake, Uncharted Territory, To Say Nothing of the Dog, Fire Watch, and Miracle and Other Christmas Stories. Connie Willis lives in Colorado with her family.

    From the Hardcover edition.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    December 14, 2009
    With her trademark understated, eloquent style, Willis expands the conceit of her Hugo and Nebula winning 1982 story “Fire Watch” into a page-turning thriller, her first novel since 2001’s Passage
    . Three young historians travel from 2060 to early 1940s Britain for firsthand research. As Eileen handles a measles outbreak during the children’s evacuation and Polly struggles to work as a London shopgirl, hints of trouble with the time-travel equipment barely register on their radar. Historians aren’t supposed to be able to change the course of history, but Mike’s actions at Dunkirk may disrupt both the past and the future. Willis uses detail and period language exquisitely well, creating an engaging, exciting tale that cuts off abruptly on the last page. Readers allergic to cliffhangers may want to wait until the second volume comes out in November 2010.

  • The Denver Post "A tour de force . . . [Willis] is one of America's finest writers."
  • The Times-Picayune "This compassionate and deeply imagined novel . . . gives the reader a strong you-were-there feeling."
  • The Seattle Times "[Willis has] researched Blackout so thoroughly, her readers may imagine she had access to the time machine her characters use."
  • Publishers Weekly "A page-turning thriller . . . Willis uses detail and period language exquisitely well, creating an engaging, exciting tale."
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