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1[[quoteright:200:]]²-->''Look Out in the Blackout!''\² -- British Government Poster, 1939²²-->''How all occasions do inform against me''\² -- William Shakespeare, ''Theatre/{{Hamlet}}''²²''Blackout / All Clear'' is one book divided into two, written by Creator/ConnieWillis, and set in her "Fire Watch"-universe (along with ''Literature/DoomsdayBook'' and ''Literature/ToSayNothingOfTheDog''). The books were published only a few months apart, in 2010, and were given a UsefulNotes/HugoAward as a single work.²²In Oxford, in the year 2060, three historians are preparing to [[TimeTravel travel back]] to World War II:²* Michael Davies, posing as an American reporter, who wants to observe the heroism of the people at the evacuation of Dunkirk, from the safer vantage point of Dover.²* Merope Ward, posing as the servant Eileen O'Reilly, who is observing the children evacuated to the countryside during the Blitz.²* Polly Churchill (using the last name "Sebastian"), who wants to observe the Blitz itself, while posing as a shopgirl in Oxford Street.²²Things seem to go well at first. Michael and Polly lose some time to "slippage," but all three go about in their assignments. Merope has her hands full with the children (including sibling terrors, Alf and Binnie Hodbin), Polly finds a group to shelter with during the raids, and Michael goes searching for a way to get to Dover in time.²²And then things start to go wrong. Events don't go as planned. Things get worse. And suddenly, none of their drops to the future are opening. Nobody, it seems, is coming to get them...²²What Creator/ConnieWillis said about ''Blackout'' and ''All Clear'':²->"What are ''Blackout'' and ''All Clear'' about? They’re about Dunkirk and ration books and D-Day and V-1 rockets, about tube shelters and Bletchley Park and gas masks and stirrup pumps and Christmas pantomimes and cows and crossword puzzles and the deception campaign. And mostly the book’s about all the people who "did their bit" to save the world from Hitler -- Shakespearean actors and ambulance drivers and vicars and landladies and nurses and [=WRENs=] and RAF pilots and Winston Churchill and General Patton and Agatha Christie -- heroes all."²----²!!Tropes used in this novel:²²* AnachronicOrder: The fact that it's a time-travel story makes this sort of obligatory, but [[spoiler:Ernest's sections in the first book]] take place both subjectively and objectively after the rest of the story.²* AnyoneCanDie: It's the Blitz. Even though Polly knows where the bombs will drop in 1940, everyone is still in danger, and, in the end, [[spoiler:Michael does die from a V-1 attack]].²* BlitzEvacuees: The children that Merope goes to observe.²* BrattyHalfPint: Binnie and Alf.²* ButterflyOfDoom: What Michael Davies worries about after [[spoiler:actually going to Dunkirk itself, a "divergence point," and saving a soldier's life.]]²** ''Every character'' finds themselves causing some small change in history and spends the rest of the book agonizing about whether [[GodwinsLawOfTimeTravel they've caused the Allies to lose the war]].²* CharacterNameAlias: Let's see...²** Polly tends to use names from Creator/WilliamShakespeare.²** The whole Fortitude South counterespionage cell in 1944 uses the names of the characters from ''Theatre/TheImportanceOfBeingEarnest''. However appropriate, it's bizarre to hear the (male) commander referred to as "Lady Bracknell".²* ClassicallyTrainedExtra: Sir Godfrey, a legendary Shakespearean actor who finds himself putting on simplistic plays he despises.²* ContrivedCoincidence: A lot of them. [[spoiler:Vaguely justified by the continuum doing its thing]].²* DespairEventHorizon: Both Polly and Mr. Dunworthy go through this when [[spoiler:Mr. Dunworthy tells her he thinks everyone they ever met will die because of them]].²* DiabolusExMachina: Especially in ''All Clear''; every time they try to find other time travelers, circumstances conspire to keep them away.²* {{Doorstopper}}: Each book is over 600 pages, making the total over 1,200. No wonder it took her eight years to write it.²* EmbarrassingFirstName: Binnie Hodbin's first name is [[spoiler:Hodbin]].²* FamedInStory²* FishOutOfTemporalWater: The historians are reasonably prepared for their observation missions to WWII, but not for an extended stay-- and the implications of it.²* ForWantOfANail: What Michael worries about, though Polly says it's just InSpiteOfANail.²** Polly namechecks the trope, however, when she speculates that [[spoiler:originally things ''didn't'' work out and that Hitler ''won'' World War II and it was only through the (unintentional) intervention of time travelers that the Allies won, making it so the Allies had ''always'' won and any change time travelers had made had been made because they had already made it, because it was so incredibly improbably that various secrets would stay secret.]] Confused yet?²** For some reason, time travelers in Connie Willis books, despite knowing the net won't open if it causes a paradox, never quite grasp this works going from the past to the future too. [[spoiler: The reason they get stranded is almost certainly that leaving things as they currently are would cause a paradox, so they have to hang around to ForWantOfANail history ''back'' to some non-paradox configuration.]]²* GetBackToTheFuture²* GivingRadioToTheRomans: The trio makes it a point to avert this, even though it means not being able to share foreknowledge (such as [[TimeTravellersAreSpies locations of bombings]]) with contemporary people they care about. Eileen stealthily plays it straight by knowing to give Binnie aspirin to lower her extreme fever.²* GlamorousWartimeSinger: She doesn't sing, but Polly's performances as "Air Raid Adelaide" in ENSA ("Every Night, Sexy Acts!") qualify.²* GodwinsLawOfTimeTravel: Played straight with the worries of the characters, after they can't get back to the future, possibly because it doesn't exist any more. [[spoiler:Ultimately averted, and then a real life [[WildMassGuessing Wild Mass Guess]] is presented to invert the entire concept. Considering some of the astronomically lucky breaks that English got, including many that were due to time travelers, a theory that universe is using time travel to retroactively make the Germans ''lose'' the war is not entirely crazy.]]²* HeroicBSOD: Michael gets one after [[spoiler:saving a soldier at Dunkirk and having his foot injured]]. Polly gets one [[spoiler:during a raid when her drop point won't open]] and then another [[spoiler:when she thinks everybody she befriended is dead]]. Merope, so far, hasn't had one yet.²* HeroicSacrifice: [[spoiler:Michael insists on telling Colin everything he knows about Polly and Eileen and where they are before they go back to Oxford... delaying things enough that Michael doesn't survive.]]²* HitlersTimeTravelExemptionAct: If a theory presented in the book is correct, it logically follows that time travel doesn't want people to kill Hitler, because [[spoiler:he's incompetent. It's using him to ''lose'' the war.]]²* [[spoiler:IChooseToStay: Eileen chooses to take TheSlowPath.]]²* InThePastEveryoneWillBeFamous: Subverted as they don't really meet anyone famous. Michael eventually does meet [[spoiler:General Patton, Alan Turing, and the Queen]] and Eileen gets a glimpse of [[spoiler:Agatha Christie]], but that's about it.²* KidsAreCruel: At least Alf and Binnie are. (Though subverted in ''All Clear'' when [[spoiler:it turns out they were instrumental (though unintentional) in helping the continuum fix itself]].)²* LargeHam: Sir Godfrey, one of the people Polly befriends during the raid, is a Shakespearean actor and sometimes very ham-ish.²* LastMinuteHookup: [[spoiler:Eileen and the vicar]].²* LittleMissBadass: Binnie, for helping driving the ambulance as well as her actions in the future.²* MeaningfulRename: Polly Churchill can't use her real last name in WWII for obvious reasons. Instead, she uses characters from Shakespeare. [[spoiler: Which is a hint that Mary (for which Polly is a nickname) Kent (from Theatre/KingLear) is Polly. And not only is Douglas, the girl introduced at VE Day, a character in Theatre/{{Macbeth}}, it is also a type of motorcycle-- which hints that Douglas is Mary Kent, the FANY who mistook a motorcycle for a V-1, who is ''also'' Polly.]]²** To replace her EmbarrassingFirstName, Binnie also tries on a bunch of different names, from Vivian to Rapunzel. She finally settles on [[spoiler:Eileen]].²* MeanwhileInTheFuture: The chapters generally switch around between different months of 1940, but sometimes they go to 1944, and the early chapters are set in 2060. It's particularly muddled in the first half of the first book, where Mike, Eileen, and Polly are all the same distance in time from leaving Oxford but because of their different arrival dates are therefore passing through the events of 1940 at different points in the story. The fact that it keeps cutting back to Mary, Ernest, and Douglas in the later part of the war doesn't exactly help untangle the chronology, especially as it turns out that [[spoiler:one of them is genuinely in the future via TheSlowPath and the other two are the same person, in the objective future but her subjective past]]. Got that?²* NeverFoundTheBody: [[spoiler:Mike]], to Eileen's insistence. [[spoiler:She's right]].²* NeverLiveItDown: In universe, Mary Kent's fellow [=FANYs=] insist on calling her every possible motorcycle name after she mistakes the sound of an old sputtering motorcycle for a V-1 bomb.²* OfficerAndAGentleman: RAF pilot Steven Lang.²* OnlyOneMeAllowedRightNow: "Deadline" has a grimly literal meaning: if you've already been to a point in time, later versions of you are not allowed there. The continuum will enforce this, if necessary, by killing off all extraneous versions of you. So, if you've already been to 1 May 1945 and you later travel to an earlier point in time, the continuum will arrange for you to have an unfortunate accident before 1 May 1945 rolls around.²* ParentalSubstitute: Eileen, to Alf and Binnie.²* PrecociousCrush: Colin, on Polly²* TheRealHeroes: The major theme of the books, sometimes [[{{Anvilicious}} anviliciously]] so. The whole point is to emphasize that the nameless ambulance drivers and sailors and nurses and air raid wardens and firefighters and codebreakers and shopgirls and servants, etc... helped win the war.²* RealNameAsAnAlias: Polly uses her first name and Michael Davies goes by "Mike Davis". Then again, no one in the past knows their real names. Merope only has to go by an alias because her name isn't common in the time period.²* RedHerring: DoubleSubverted; the many, many red herrings the characters ignore eventually make sense.²* SecretSecretKeeper: [[spoiler:Sir Godfrey]] knew all along that Polly wasn't who she said she was. It's not clear how much he knew, but TheReveal is probably the biggest TearJerker in the book.²* ShownTheirWork²* TheSlowPath: [[spoiler:Eileen decides to stay in 1941 to raise Alf and Binnie leading to...]]²* StableTimeLoop: [[spoiler:Colin is able to rescue Polly and Mr. Dunworthy because Binnie was there and told him when/where they would be. Binnie knew he would be there because he ''already was there''. Basically, ALL of time travel is this: every change you make is okay, because you have already made that change.]]²* StiffUpperLip: They're British. It's the Blitz. [[MemeticMutation Keep calm and carry on.]]²* TheReveal: In the first book, there are three characters that are shown, but not explained: Mary Kent, the ambulance driver during the V-1 and V-2 attacks who is [[spoiler:Polly pre-going to the Blitz]]; "Douglas," a woman observing VE-Day who is [[spoiler:also Mary Kent/Polly]]; and Earnest, who is working on a deception campaign for the government and is [[spoiler:actually Michael Davies after he fakes his own death]].²* TimeTravel²* TimeTravelersAreSpies: There are several mentions of the historians specifically making efforts to not act suspicious, but you'd think after a few weeks or so they'd work out a code for, "When and where are the air raids tonight, Polly?!" for when they're around contemps. In-universe, historian Gerald Phipps was attempting to join an intelligence operation at Bletchley Park, and [[spoiler:Ernest/Michael]] joins the disinformation counter-intelligence force at Fortitude South.²* TimeTravelRomance: Played straight in several different ways. Polly falls a little for Sir Godfrey, from the past, and of course Colin (from the same future she's from) is searching spacetime for her. [[spoiler:Not that Colin minds the former, of course; he may or may not have had a fling with a girl named Ann in the 1970s. Eileen later falls in love with the Vicar Goode, who is a century older than her, but she does it in the normal way ''after'' she's already decided not to go home.]]²** Arguably Dunworthy and St Paul's Cathedral, which no longer exists in his time. At the very least he never visits the place without going into raptures.²* UsefulNotes/WorldWarII: Like all of the books in the series except ''Literature/DoomsdayBook'', the Blitz is apparently the nexus of all space and time.²* WriteBackToTheFuture²* YearOutsideHourInside: Sort of. Eileen was there first (her assignment began in late 1939 and was well-underway by the time we meet her in the book, and she occasionally came back to Oxford to report and get crash courses in supplementary skills); Michael from May 1940 before Dunkirk; Polly from September 1940, towards the beginning of the Blitz; and [[spoiler:Mr. Dunworthy attempts to go through to September after Polly but winds up in December 1940. Colin spends at least four years doing research, including going to other time periods to access records destroyed in the St. Paul's pinpoint, and attempting to find the historians. He finds Michael first in June 1944 after D-Day, who gives him the needed information to find the others in April 1941.]]²* YouAlreadyChangedThePast: because of that StableTimeLoop. None of the characters in three books and a short story seem to have really taken this in, though, [[spoiler:except Merope, which is presumably why she was PutOnABus at the end of this one]].²----


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