Blackout by Connie Willis
February 2010, Spectra


Eileen, Polly and Mike are historians at Oxford in 2060, where a time-travel machine can send researchers into the past to study history as it happens. Eileen is observing the children evacuated to the British countryside during World War II, while Mike is studying the heroes of Dunkirk and Polly is sent to London during the Blitz. But back in 2060, the future of time travel grows increasingly uncertain, and the scheduled "drops" more erratic. What will happen to Eileen, Polly and Mike if they can't get home again?


Blackout
Four months, Eileen thought, separating them. I only have to put up with them for four more months. "No one's going to invade," she said firmly, "tonight or any other night."

"'Ow do you know?" Alf demanded.

"You can't know something what ain't 'appened yet," Binnie said.

"Why ain't 'e going to?" Alf persisted.

Because the British Army will get away from him at Dunkirk, Eileen thought, and he'll lose the Battle of Britain and begin bombing London to bring the British to their knees. But it won't work. They'll stand up to him. It'll be their finest hour. And it will lose him the war.

"Because I have faith in the future," she said, and, getting a firmer grip on Alf and Binnie, set off with them into the darkness.


Blackout is Connie Willis' first novel since 2001's Passage, reviewed in BookPage here.

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