Review: All Clear by Connie Willis

Originally published at Enemy of Entropy. You can comment here or there.

All ClearAll Clear by Con­nie Willis

My rat­ing: 5 of 5 stars

Well, this vol­ume moved much more quickly than Black­out did! Hav­ing read a brief piece writ­ten by Ms. Willis thank­ing those who stood by her as one book spread into two, I think I have a slightly bet­ter under­stand­ing now of what hap­pened that led to my unhap­pi­ness with the way the first book ended. They really shouldn’t be two books, but they couldn’t phys­i­cally fit into one vol­ume. Or, for many e-​​readers, one ebook.

It is still a large book! And, as in Black­out, it isn’t always clear just who a char­ac­ter is. I’m read­ing along hap­pily and all of a sud­den, there’s a new main char­ac­ter! Wait, who is this? Has Colin got­ten through some­how? Or is it another his­to­rian? Or another trip by one of the peo­ple we already know? Or – but – …Ms. Willis does a mar­velous job of keep­ing us guess­ing. And the his­to­ri­ans’ habit of using dif­fer­ent names on dif­fer­ent assign­ments meant that I didn’t always know which per­son I was read­ing about even when I thought I did know who he or she was! The reader has to catch the tini­est details to know that some­thing isn’t quite right, or be left com­pletely sur­prised at the reveal! The many ref­er­ences to Agatha Christie are def­i­nitely mean­ing­ful, and I’ve come to believe that I haven’t read nearly enough of her work!

I’ve always con­sid­ered Ms. Willis a cere­bral author, but my emo­tions were heav­ily engaged here. The anal­ogy of Polly, Sir God­frey, and The Admirable Crich­ton was so apt, and that dread­ful busi­ness in the Phoenix had me bawl­ing. By the time a hero we’d grown to know and love dearly fell, and fell so, so close to home, I was a bas­ket case.

After fin­ish­ing this mas­sive duol­ogy (which really should count as one enor­mous book spread across two vol­umes), you would think that I would be sick and tired of all things Willis and not want to read another word by her for the next year or so. Instead, I want to know, right now, what comes next. I want to read about Eileen and the Vicar, and watch Alf and Bin­nie grow up. I want to see Polly and Colin’s rela­tion­ship grow.

I imag­ine Ms. Willis is rather tired of all of them, though, and happy to rest for a while and remem­ber what it is to live back in this cen­tury again. The Oxford Time Travel uni­verse offers so many rich and fas­ci­nat­ing pos­si­bil­i­ties for fic­tion, and I hope she chooses to write many more nov­els set in it. I’ll def­i­nitely be will­ing to read them!

View all my reviews

Cyn is Rick's wife, Katie's Mom, and Esther & Oliver's Mémé. She's also a professional geek, avid reader, fledgling coder, enthusiastic gamer (TTRPGs), occasional singer, and devoted stitcher.
Posts created 4262

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Related Posts

Begin typing your search term above and press enter to search. Press ESC to cancel.

Back To Top