December 07, 2003

Doomsday Book by Connie Willis

doomsday.jpgIn the middle of the 21st century, historians use time machines to send scholars back to observe past events as they happened. Doomsday Book tells the story of two epidemics, one in the modern day, the other in the past. I don't want to reveal too many plot points since the book depends on your desire to find out what the heck is going on to keep you turning the pages. The story telling is actually sort of clumsy, relying on fairly broad coincidences and some implausibly clumsy computer interfaces to keep the characters with important information from sharing it with their compatriots (or the reader).

In the end, the book reads like an argument against the accepted scholarly view of what the Middle Ages were really like. That part of the story seems exhaustively researched, and plotted with a deep appreciation and understanding of human nature. The modern story line is laced with academic political machinations that add another level to the critique of historical scholarship.

It's a good book marred only by a couple of painfully implausible technical bits and 30% too many pages. The copy I read is further marred by the 70% cheesy cover shown here. More recent editions have a less garish cover.

Posted by jeffy at December 7, 2003 02:16 PM

Okay, one movie review and you're all caught up!

Posted by: Dan L at December 9, 2003 11:19 PM
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