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The Doomsday Book

Cover of The Doomsday Book

The Doomsday Book

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For Kivrin, preparing an on-site study of one of the deadliest eras in humanity's history was as simple as receiving inoculations against the diseases of the fourteenth century and inventing an alibi...
For Kivrin, preparing an on-site study of one of the deadliest eras in humanity's history was as simple as receiving inoculations against the diseases of the fourteenth century and inventing an alibi...
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Description-
  • For Kivrin, preparing an on-site study of one of the deadliest eras in humanity's history was as simple as receiving inoculations against the diseases of the fourteenth century and inventing an alibi for a woman traveling alone. For her instructors in the twenty-first century, it meant painstaking calculations and careful monitoring of the rendezvous location where Kivrin would be received.

    But a crisis strangely linking past and future strands Kivrin in a bygone age as her fellows try desperately to rescue her. In a time of superstition and fear, Kivrin -- barely of age herself -- finds she has become an unlikely angel of hope during one of history's darkest hours.

    Five years in the writing by one of science fiction's most honored authors, Doomsday Book is a storytelling triumph. Connie Willis draws upon her understanding of the universalities of human nature to explore the ageless issues of evil, suffering and the indomitable will of the human spirit.

    From the Paperback edition.

 
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  • From the book

    Mr. Dunworthy opened the door to the laboratory and his spectacles promptly steamed up."Am I too late?" he said, yanking them off and squinting at Mary.

    "Shut the door," she said. "I can't hear you over the sound of those ghastly carols."

    Dunworthy closed the door, but it didn't completely shut out the sound of "O Come, All Ye Faithful" wafting in from the quad. "Am I too late?" he said again.

    Mary shook her head. "All you've missed is Gilchrist's speech." She leaned back in her chair to let Dunworthy squeeze past her into the narrow observation area. She had taken off her coat and wool hat and set them on the only other chair, along with a large shopping bag full of parcels. Her gray hair was in disarray, as if she had tried to fluff it up after taking her hat off. "A very long speech about Mediaeval's maiden voyage in time," she said, "and the college of Brasenose taking its rightful place as the jewel in history's crown. Is it still raining?"

    "Yes," he said, wiping his spectacles on his muffler. He hooked the wire rims over his ears and went up to the thin-glass partition to look at the net. In the center of the laboratory was a smashed-up wagon surrounded by overturned trunks and wooden boxes. Above them hung the protective shields of the net, draped like a gauzy parachute.

    Kivrin's tutor Latimer, looking older and even more infirm than usual, was standing next to one of the trunks. Montoya was standing over by the console wearing jeans and a terrorist jacket and looking impatiently at the digital on her wrist. Badri was sitting in front of the console, typing something in and frowning at the display screens.

    "Where's Kivrin?" Dunworthy said.

    "I haven't seen her," Mary said. "Do come and sit down. The drop isn't scheduled till noon, and I doubt very much that they'll get her off by then. Particularly if Gilchrist makes another speech."

    She draped her coat over the back of her own chair and set the shopping bag full of parcels on the floor by her feet. "I do hope this doesn't go all day. I must pick up my great-nephew Colin at the Underground station at three. He's coming in on the tube."

    She rummaged in her shopping bag. "My niece Deirdre is off to Kent for the holidays and asked me to look after him. I do hope it doesn't rain the entire time he's here," she said, still rummaging. "He's twelve, a nice boy, very bright, though he has the most wretched vocabulary. Everything is either necrotic or apocalyptic. And Deirdre allows him entirely too many sweets."

    She continued to dig through the contents of the shopping bag. "I got this for him for Christmas." She hauled up a narrow red-and-green-striped box. "I'd hoped to get the rest of my shopping done before I came here, but it was pouring rain and I can only tolerate that ghastly digital carillon music on the High Street for brief intervals."

    She opened the box and folded back the tissue. "I've no idea what twelve-year-old boys are wearing these days, but mufflers are timeless, don't you think, James? James?"

    He turned from where he had been staring blindly at the display screens. "What?"

    "I said, mufflers are always an appropriate Christmas gift for boys, don't you think?"

    He looked at the muffler she was holding up for his inspection. It was of dark gray plaid wool. He would not have been caught dead in it when he was a boy, and that had been fifty years ago. "Yes," he said, and turned back to the thin-glass.

    "What is it, James? Is something wrong?"

    Latimer picked up a small brass-bound casket, and then looked vaguely around, as if he had forgotten what he intended to do with it. Montoya glanced...

About the Author-
  • Connie Willis has won six Nebula Awards (more than any other science fiction writer), six Hugo Awards, and for her first novel, Lincoln's Dreams, John W. Campbell Memorial Award. Her novel Doomsday Book won both the Nebula and Hugo Awards, and her first short-story collection, Fire Watch, was a New York Times Notable Book. Her other works include To Say Nothing of the Dog, Bellwether, Impossible Things, Remake, Uncharted Territory and Miracle and Other Christmas Stories. Ms. Willis lives in Greeley, Colorado, with her family and is hard at work on her next novel, Passage.

Reviews-
  • The Denver Post

    "A stunning novel that encompasses both suffering and hope.... The best work yet from one of science fiction's best writers."

  • Kirkus Reviews (starred review) "Splendid work -- brutal, gripping and genuinely harrowing, the product of diligent research, fine writing and well-honed instincts, that should appeal far beyond the normal science-fiction constituency."
  • The Washington Post Book World "The world of 1348 burns in the mind's eye, and every character alive that year is a fully recognized being.... It becomes possible to feel...that Connie Willis did, in fact, over the five years Doomsday Book took her to write, open a window to another world, and that she saw something there."
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    Random House Publishing Group
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