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Doomsday Book Paperback – June 1, 1992


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

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 445 pages
  • Publisher: Spectra (June 1, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553351672
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553351675
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (705 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,246,808 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Connie Willis labored 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 the Mass Market Paperback edition.

From Publishers Weekly

This new book by Hugo- and Nebula-award-winning author Willis ( Lincoln's Dreams ) is an intelligent and satisfying blend of classic science fiction and historical reconstruction. Kivrin, a history student at Oxford in 2048, travels back in time to a 14th-century English village, despite a host of misgivings on the part of her unofficial tutor. When the technician responsible for the procedure falls prey to a 21st-century epidemic, he accidentally sends Kivrin back not to 1320 but to 1348--right into the path of the Black Death. Unaware at first of the error, Kivrin becomes deeply involved in the life of the family that takes her in. But before long she learns the truth and comes face to face with the horrible, unending suffering of the plague that would wipe out half the population of Europe. Meanwhile, back in the future, modern science shows itself infinitely superior in its response to epidemics, but human nature evidences no similar evolution, and scapegoating is still alive and well in a campaign against "infected foreigners."p. 204 This book finds villains and heroes in all ages, and love, too, which Kivrin hears in the revealing and quietly touching deathbed confession of a village priest.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Connie Willis is an established author of many science fiction books, including THE DOOMSDAY BOOK, and winner of both the Nebula Award and the Hugo Award for best sf novel.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

196 of 220 people found the following review helpful By PDXReader on August 22, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
_The Doomsday Book_ is one of the most unusual pieces of science fiction I think I've ever read. It's not what you'd typically expect in a science fiction novel - most of the action takes place in the very low-tech world of England's Middle Ages. It's also not really historical fiction. While well researched, the book doesn't flesh out the details enough to qualify in that category either. I guess this book is really just about people and how they react in a crisis. I don't think I've ever been as moved by fictional characters as I have by Ms. Booth's in this novel. No, there's not a lot of adventure here. If that's what you like, you'll hate this book. If you enjoy rich characterization & a moving story, though, you'll love it, even if you don't usually enjoy sci-fi. I read this book perhaps four years ago, and it still sticks out in my mind as one of the best I've ever read. I've bought four copies over the years, because I'll loan it to a friend who will love it so much they'll loan it to someone else, who in turn loans it out...
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154 of 174 people found the following review helpful By Lawyeraau HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 8, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Winner of both the Hugo and Nebula Awards for science fiction, this book is a tour de force that is sure to captivate all those who love time travel themes, as well as those who have a deep appreciation for medieval history. The author masterfully melds these two genres, creating a novel that is riveting and highly entertaining.

The year is 2048 A.D., and a young history student named Kivrin is preparing to do an on site study of the turbulent fourteenth century. Her mission has placed two of the University's professors at cross purposes, as the proponent for this study, Mr. Gilchrist, finds himself pitted against Mr. Dunworthy, Kivrin's mentor, who believes that this trip in time is far too dangerous. Mr. Gilchrist, however, is in the position to have the final say on the project.

Kivrin is scheduled to land in the rural English countryside of the fourteenth century some twenty years before the Black Death savages England. Armed with the knowledge of fourteenth century customs, dress, languages, religious practices, and history, Kivrin is raring to go back in time. When she travels back, however, an unforeseen crisis in the present places Kivrin in a potentially deadly situation upon her arrival in the past.

The book alternates between what is happening in the present and what is happening in the past, as those in the present work to unravel the mystery of what went wrong. Meanwhile, Kivrin struggles to overcome the anomalous situations she encounters that run contra to her expectations. Believing herself stranded in the past, Kivrin artfully maneuvers around the precarious situations in which she finds herself, never losing her humanity despite the horror of her situation, given what went wrong.
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251 of 288 people found the following review helpful By Anna Keaney on August 13, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I wanted to like Doomsday Book. I respected the five years of work that went into it, the Hugo and Nebula awards it earned, and the recommendation by friends. I expected something rich and detailed, something that would draw me in and not want to let go. What I got was a "whole lotta nothing." Had this book been a third of its near 600-page length it might have been a tight, moving story. As it is, the characters have seemingly eons of time to wander through, both forwards and backwards.
The book contains two stories running in parallel. In the 'modern' one (actually several decades from now) Kivrin, a young Oxford historian, is sent back in time to 1320 despite great misgivings by her professor, James Dunworthy. Dunworthy spends the next several weeks trying to make sure she's all right and can return home, a formidable task due to an epidemic that has broken out at the college and a hopelessly ignorant department head who organized the 'drop.' The second story deals with Kivrin's experiences in the past, and her own battles against ignorance and illness. The ever-present questions are, "will Kivrin get home?" "will she die in the past?" "will everyone die in the future?" and "can any of this be stopped?"
When I say "ever-present" that's exactly (unfortunately) what I mean. 200 pages into Doomsday Book I thought that I'd never read so much of so little. 400 pages in, when then modern folks learn an important (and obvious since about page 20) fact about Kivrin's trip back in time, I thought that at last we could move forward. And we did, a little, but not much, and not enough.
So what fills 600 pages? The same questions, over and over again.
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52 of 58 people found the following review helpful By Nancy R. Woodington on August 6, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"The Doomsday Book" is an astonishing, gripping, stunning intertwining of time travel with two possible doomsday scenarios, one in the mid-21st century, the other the real Black Death of 1348-49 in England. The student historian Kivrin Engle wants to go to the Middle Ages, and she's supported by a thwarted medievalist, Gilchrist, who finally gets his hands on the power to send her there. Willis kills off quite a few sympathetic characters, in the remorseless fashion of Renaissance tragedy. Others survive, though changed by the action, in the best tradition of comedy. In some ways it's frustrating to read, because almost all the "good" characters are themselves terribly frustrated, but after the first hundred pages this thing is almost impossible to put down. On the 21st century side there are a lot of light, even farcical, touches (for example, the pressing need for "lavatory paper,' and William Gaddson's ability to attract any number of young women) that relieve some of the inevitable grimness enjoined by the circumstances. I read this book, despite its length, in a 24-hour period, and cannot get it out of my mind. The detail is wonderful, the plots are wonderful, the morals strike deeply. What a book!
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