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All Clear

Cover of All Clear

All Clear

Oxford Time Travel Series, Book 2

Winner of the Nebula Award

Traveling back in time, from Oxford circa 2060 into the thick of World War II, was a routine excursion for three British historians eager to study firsthand the heroism and horrors of the Dunkirk evacuation and the London Blitz. But getting marooned in war-torn 1940 England has turned Michael Davies, Merope Ward, and Polly Churchill from temporal tourists into besieged citizens struggling to survive Hitler's devastating onslaught. And now there's more to worry about than just getting back home: The impossibility of altering past events has always been a core belief of time-travel theory--but it may be tragically wrong. When discrepancies in the historical record begin cropping up, it suggests that one or all of the future visitors have somehow changed the past--and, ultimately, the outcome of the war. Meanwhile, in 2060 Oxford, the stranded historians' supervisor, Mr. Dunworthy, frantically confronts the seemingly impossible task of rescuing his students--three missing needles in the haystack of history. The thrilling time-tripping adventure that began with Blackout now hurtles to its stunning resolution in All Clear.

Winner of the Nebula Award

Traveling back in time, from Oxford circa 2060 into the thick of World War II, was a routine excursion for three British historians eager to study firsthand the heroism and horrors of the Dunkirk evacuation and the London Blitz. But getting marooned in war-torn 1940 England has turned Michael Davies, Merope Ward, and Polly Churchill from temporal tourists into besieged citizens struggling to survive Hitler's devastating onslaught. And now there's more to worry about than just getting back home: The impossibility of altering past events has always been a core belief of time-travel theory--but it may be tragically wrong. When discrepancies in the historical record begin cropping up, it suggests that one or all of the future visitors have somehow changed the past--and, ultimately, the outcome of the war. Meanwhile, in 2060 Oxford, the stranded historians' supervisor, Mr. Dunworthy, frantically confronts the seemingly impossible task of rescuing his students--three missing needles in the haystack of history. The thrilling time-tripping adventure that began with Blackout now hurtles to its stunning resolution in All Clear.

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  • From the book

    Well, he hasn't come yet, sir, he's more than a bit late tonight.--London Porter to Ernie Pyle, referring to the German Bombers

    London--26 October 1940

    By noon Michael and Merope still hadn't returned from Stepney, and Polly was beginning to get really worried. Stepney was less than an hour away by train. There was no way it could take Merope and Michael--correction, Eileen and Mike; she had to remember to call them by their cover names--no way it could take them six hours to go fetch Eileen's belongings from Mrs. Willett's and come back to Oxford Street. What if there'd been a raid and something had happened to them? The East End was the most dangerous part of London.

    There weren't any daytime raids on the twenty-sixth; she thought. But there weren't supposed to have been five fatalities at Padgett's either. If Mike was right, and he had altered events by saving the soldier Hardy at Dunkirk, anything was possible. The space-time continuum was a chaotic system, in which even a minuscule action could have an enormous effect.

    But two additional fatalities--and civilians, at that--could scarcely have changed the course of the war, even in a chaotic system. Thirty thousand civilians had been killed in the Blitz and nine thousand in the V-1 and V-2 attacks, and fifty million people had died in the war.

    And you know he didn't lose the war, Polly thought. And historians have been traveling to the past for more than forty years. If they'd been capable of altering events, they'd have done it long before this. Mr. Dunworthy had been in the Blitz and the French Revolution and even the Black Death, and his historians had observed wars and coronations and coups all across history, and there was no record of any of them even causing a discrepancy, let alone changing the course of history.

    Which meant that in spite of appearances, the five fatalities at Padgett's Department Store weren't a discrepancy either. Marjorie must have misunderstood what the nurses said. She'd admitted she'd only overheard part of their conversation. Perhaps the nurses had been talking about the victims from another incident. Marylebone had been hit last night, too, and Wigmore Street. Polly knew from experience that ambulances sometimes transported victims to hospital from more than one incident. And that people one thought had been killed sometimes turned up alive.

    But if she told Mike about having thought the theater troupe was dead, he'd demand to know why she hadn't known St. George's would be destroyed and conclude that was a discrepancy as well. Which meant she needed to keep him from finding out about the five casualties at Padgett's till she'd had a chance to determine if there actually were that many.

    Thank goodness he wasn't here when Marjorie came, she thought. You should be glad they're late.

    And thank goodness her supervisor had taken Marjorie back to hospital, though it meant Polly hadn't had a chance to ask her what exactly the nurse had said. Polly had offered to take Marjorie there herself so she could ask the hospital staff about the fatalities, but Miss Snelgrove had insisted on going, "So I can give those nurses a piece of my mind. What were they thinking? And what were you thinking?" she scolded Marjorie. "Coming here when you should be in bed?"

    "I'm sorry," Marjorie had said contritely. "When I heard Padgett's had been hit, I'm afraid I panicked and jumped to conclusions."

    Like Mike did when he saw the mannequins in front of Padgett's, Polly thought. Like I did when I found out Eileen's drop in Backbury didn't open. And like I'm doing now. There's a logical explanation for why Marjorie heard the nurses say there...

About the Author-
  • Connie Willis, who was recently inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame, has received six Nebula awards and ten Hugo awards for her fiction; her novel Passage was nominated for both. Her other works include Blackout, Doomsday Book, Lincoln's Dreams, Bellwether, Impossible Things, Remake, Uncharted Territory, To Say Nothing of the Dog, Fire Watch, and Miracle and Other Christmas Stories. Connie Willis lives in Colorado with her family.

Reviews-
  • The Washington Post "As vivid an evocation of England during World War II as anyone has ever written . . . You'll find here a novelist who can plot like Agatha Christie and whose books possess a bounce and stylishness that Preston Sturges might envy."
  • The Denver Post "A tour-de-force. [Willis is] one of America's finest writers."
  • The Seattle Times "[Willis has] researched Blackout so thoroughly her readers may imagine she had access to the time machine her characters use."
  • The Times-Picayune "This compassionate and deeply imagined novel . . . gives the reader a strong you-were-there feeling."
  • Publishers Weekly "A page-turning thriller . . . Willis uses detail and period language exquisitely well, creating an engaging, exciting tale."
  • January Magazine "[A] book with something for everyone that ends up working on every level. It is adventure. It is history. It is science. It is, indeed, thrilling. And it is unforgettable."
  • Michael Moorcock "I loved this book. It is informative, subtle, full of great characters and has a wonderful plot. . . . Brilliant. Willis at her finest."
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Oxford Time Travel Series, Book 2
Connie Willis
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