Connie Willis

Click here for details of Connie Willis's biography.

Although Connie has a wide ranging ouevre she has become particularly well known for a series of books set in a consistent universe.

The books themselves generally start in an Oxford University about a hundred years from now. From what we see of it and what I know of it (not much), I do feel that this is a rather idealised version of the 'Dreaming Spires'. However, the main part of these stories is set in the past for the University has developed a method of travelling back into the past and the History department has co-opted the technology to investigate the past as it really happened rather than as how the victors, or previous generations of historians, had written it.

This series was started in 1982 with the novella 'Fire Watch' with apparently no knowledge that this would be the (successful - it won the 1982 Nebula and 1983 Hugo awards for novelette) lead into an occasional series of novels. Originally published in the February 1982 edition of Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction, it was reprinted in the collection of the same name in 1984. This story is set during the height of the Blitz as Saint Paul's Cathedral was surrounded by burning London.

The next story in the sequence was Doomsday Book in 1992. This book takes Kivrin, and us, back to the great plague when the Black Death swept through the country. Again, the book was an award winner bagging the Nebula and being a BSFA Award nominee in 1992 and winning the Hugo and Locus awards and being a Clarke Award nominee in 1993.

We then have To Say Nothing of the Dog in 1998. This is set in a variety of time zones as various Oxford historians were sent careening through Time researching the destruction of the old Coventry Cathedral.

Connie then took a break for almost twelve years before producing Blackout and All Clear - a duology that grew out of her research on the Blitz. In these books we follow the misadventures of a small group of students who had persuaded the head of the History department that they had valid reasons to travel to the Blitz and the Dunkirk evacuation - Operation Dynamo.

One rather unusual aspect of the method of time travel as presented in this series is that the time portal would not open if any of the contemps (people local to the time zone) were in a position to spot it. The time travellers were also unable travel to spots of specific importance - the beaches of Dunkirk were off-limits but Dover should have been accessible but bad things are happening in Blackout. It is also assumed that the observers who have been sent back are unable to interfere significantly in events but this to is being questioned in the latest books...

The above books can be purchased from or

Return to the Authors list

You are visitor Countersince September 1999