Monday, May 6, 2013

Non-Doctor Who Time Travel

Complex design of the 100 year old green white and black stained glass window in the Seattle Volunteer Park Conservatory, Capitol Hill, Seattle, Washington, USA
Photo credit: Wonderlane
Have you been watching The Bletchley Circle on PBS? It's a three-part miniseries about a group of code-breakers who get together years after the war to catch a serial killer. Bletchley, of course refers to Bletchley Park, home of England's code breaking effort during WW2. 

HA and I only just watched the first episode, even though they just broadcast the last one. I'm not sure why, but we tend to let PBS mysteries marinate on the Tivo. We've only just finished last year's season of Masterpiece Mystery.

(Side note: What is up with Kurt Wallander's annoying cell phone ring? Is it a product placement thing?)

I'd already heard of Bletchley Park thanks to Blackout and All Clear, wonderful books by Connie Willis. In fact, I got so nostalgic for those books that I wasn't entirely paying attention to the show. Hell, all you have to do is say "Anderson shelter" or "the Blitz" and I'm off talking about these books. Which has got to be a great recommendation for all of her novels.

Connie Willis has written several books about time traveling historians. In this world, it's not possible to bring anything back from the past, or to travel to the future, so there's no profit in time travel. And there's too much risk of changing history to allow tourists. So it's mostly grad students going back to have a look around, and sometimes getting stuck for a while.

In Blackout and All Clear, several historians get stuck in World War 2 London, and end up having to settle in and ride out the war. There are two children (the Hodbins) who are equally  hilarious and infuriating. In Doomsday Book, a lone historian goes back to the Middle Ages and misses her target by twenty years. Hilarity does not ensue. However, in To Say Nothing of The Dog, there is plenty of nineteenth-century wackiness.

(Note: Those are Barnes & Noble links, but I listened to the audiobooks which I cannot recommend enough.)

She's written other novels, and has won loads of awards, but those are the only four I've read so far. And they're so memorable I keep wanting to give them another listen even though I know how long it would take me.

What are your favorite time travel novels? Do you have a book that you can't forget?


  1. I've been looking for my next 'Nook book' and I'm about to have a bunch of downtime on a school trip with Katy - so you'd recommend "Doomsday Book" to keep me occupied?

  2. I LOVE "Austenland" by Shannon Hale ( If you like Jane Austen at all, you'll love it. It also was adapted into a film & was at Sundance last year, but I haven't seen it yet...

    1. Oh yes, I've read about that movie in Entertainment Weekly. It looks great. I'll check out the book.

      Have you seen Lost in Austen? Great miniseries about a modern woman who ends up switching places with Elizabeth Bennett. Which of course reminds me of The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde, another great book.

  3. I hadn't thought of listening to the audiobooks. Well, now...

    Note: I've already read them but would love to hear them again.


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