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Fire Watch Mass Market Paperback – April 1, 1998


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (April 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553260456
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553260458
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 6.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,201,763 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Fire Watch collects 12 stories from one of science fiction's most decorated authors. Although the stories are thematically unrelated, an undercurrent of mortality weights many of the tales with a powerful sense of humanity's frailties. Two of the best pieces are "A Letter from the Clearys" and "The Sidon in the Mirror," both of which show people reacting to death in characteristically odd (and disappointingly human) ways. Fans of Willis's time-travel books, The Doomsday Book and To Say Nothing of the Dog, will be delighted to find that the title story tells of another hapless Oxford history student sent back to World War II Britain to learn a hard lesson. Just when the book threatens to leave you morose and depressed, Willis reveals her wonderfully absurdist side in "Mail Order Clone" and "Blued Moon." Willis is a master of the novel, but her short stories are superb reading as well. This is a nice collection for a fan's library and a great introduction for those unfamiliar with her work. --Therese Littleton

Review

"One of science fiction's best writers."--The Denver Post

"Connie Willis deploys the apparatus of science fiction to illuminate character and relationships, and her writing is fresh, subtle, and deeply moving."--The New York Times Book Review

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.

Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By hecabe on November 9, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I love Willis' work, and this collection of short stories is perhaps the best intro. She writes with a laser sharp clarity that can devastate you. The language is flowing and easy and basic in some of her stories, and so complicated and playfully perverse in others that I couldn't help but think that this is a writer that loves language and its manipulation.
"All My Darling Daughters" and "Sidon in the Mirror" are searing. There is no other words for these stories. The first time I read "Daughters" I was in a mild daze for hours afterwards. It's about the nature of sex and sadism and abuse. And the way that people like to give pain, to hurt others. The words Willis uses in the story are slangy and musical in a terrible way. "Sidon" is about genetic future, love and revenge and horrific uncertainty and identity confusion. The main character's pain made me want to cry -- reading it was like watching a child feel pain, all unknowing and ignorant of what was causing it.
Showing her lighter side are "Mail-Order Clone" and "Blued Moon." The first is about a man who orders a clone in a catalog and doesn't realize what he's gotten. "Blued Moon" is a romantic comedy about language, coincidences and the connection between understanding and love. It's a little like a Hollywood screwball comedy.
"A Letter from the Clearys" and "Fire Watch" are calm stories about the world ending and how unrelieved despair makes people a little shell-shocked. "Fire Watch" disappointed me somewhat because I guessed the ending almost first thing into the story. "Clearys" feels a little conventional.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 1, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I was so pleased to see Bantam re-release Fire Watch. I feel it is the definitive Connie Willis. It features the first of her Oxford Time Travel universe stories (Fire Watch), which ranks up there with the best time travel stories ever. But what really impresses me about this collection is the wide variety of the stories. They range from the poignant (A Letter from the Clearys) to the comic (the brilliant Blued Moon) to the profoundly disturbing (All My Darling Daughters). I worry that most readers will limit themselves to Willis's novels, and miss out on the short stories, which I believe are Willis's forte.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on March 15, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I was delighted to buy some great stories by my favorite author -- other reviewers have described them wonderfully, so I won't repeat that. My only gripe is that it seems no one proofed the transfer of the text to Kindle format. I counted an average of one mistake every two Kindle pages. For example the word "burn" was often ported with the "rn" interpreted as an "m" -- rendering the otherwise scary prospect of incendiaries burning the Cathedral into the more amusing "buming" of the Cathedral. Although I was mostly able to read around these errors, given the purchase price, I would have appreciated cursory edit by someone empowered to fix these frequent and distracting typos.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Miriah A Beach on August 23, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I love the stories in Firewatch and have loaned out my paperback copies to several of my friends and family over the years, to the enjoyment of all. Bought the Kindle edition because I enjoy re-reading them.
Wow- I imagine it never got proofed at all after it was scanned to e-text. Mostly the errors are a nuisance. In some instances, a problem. Since C.W. Plays so much with language, I found myself more than once relying on previous reads to make sense of the gibberish substituted for the original text. If it were my first time reading it, I'm not sure I would have made sense of it all. I hope they release an updated version with corrections!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Ashley Megan VINE VOICE on June 20, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
A much darker set of short stories than "Impossible Things". Some of these stories are almost horror, and (almost) all of them are shot through with regret, grief, remorse, anger, or fear. Yet all in all, I enjoyed this collection much more than I did "Impossible Things." For one, it's more consistent in tone. Sure, that tone is dark as hell, but at least you're not being plunged into despair after just reading an absurdist comedy. The stories feel much less dated, and are more sci-fi oriented.

The title story is set in the same universe as Willis' popular "Doomsday Book", which I haven't read yet. It's a great advertisement for that book, raising questions about the nature of history that this history major couldn't resist. Others, like "Daisy, in the Sun" or "Father of the Bride", seem more sketches than fully fleshed-out stories, but at least they're interesting sketches. You just wish she had spent a little more time with them. "Sidon in the Mirror" and "All My Darling Daughters" are so dark they're practically horror stories, despite their sci-fi settings (a burned-out star mine and an L5 orbital college, respectively). These sent delicious chills down my back, and were my favorite out of the whole collection, sticking in my memory long after I was finished.

"Fire Watch" restored my faith in Willis, and made me once again eager to seek out more of her full-length novels. Readers turned off by "Impossible Things" should give this collection a shot, as it displays Willis' considerable talent much more favorably.
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