Thoughts of a Catholic convert

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Time traveling in Britain

- ruins of Coventry Cathedral

I've just started reading the science fiction novel To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis. It begins with Oxford University time travelers going back into the past to Coventry Cathedral just after it was bombed during the Coventry Blitz of WWII. Here's what Booklist on the Amazon page has to say of it ...

What a stitch! Willis' delectable romp through time from 2057 back to Victorian England, with a few side excursions into World War II and medieval Britain, will have readers happily glued to the pages. Rich dowager Lady Schrapnell has invaded Oxford University's time travel research project in 2057, promising to endow it if they help her rebuild Coventry Cathedral, destroyed by a Nazi air raid in 1940. In effect, she dragoons almost everyone in the program to make trips back in time to locate items--in particular, the bishop's bird stump, an especially ghastly example of Victorian decorative excess. Time traveler Ned Henry is suffering from advanced time lag and has been sent, he thinks, for rest and relaxation to 1888, where he connects with fellow time traveler Verity Kindle and discovers that he is actually there to correct an incongruity created when Verity inadvertently brought something forward from the past. Take an excursion through time, add chaos theory, romance, plenty of humor, a dollop of mystery, and a spoof of the Victorian novel, and you end up with what seems like a comedy of errors but is actually a grand scheme "involving the entire course of history and all of time and space that, for some unfathomable reason, chose to work out its designs with cats and croquet mallets and penwipers, to say nothing of the dog. And a hideous piece of Victorian artwork." Sally Estes --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

The book won both the Hugo and Locus Awards in 1999, so I'm optimistic that I'll like it, though I'm not far enough into yet to know for sure. You can read about the book in more detail at Wikipedia.


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