True Review
Current Issue Number 77 Vol.20  March 2011


ALL CLEAR, by Connie Willis. Ballantine Books (, 2010, 641 pp., $26.00. ISBN 978-0-553-80767-7

The second part of the two-part BLACKOUT novels, in this case the world of the 2060 Oxford time-traveling historians, becomes exceedingly complex. This time the historians find themselves stranded in England during various stages (and varying dates) of World War II. Stranded, quite literally – as their “drops” are either blasted away or blocked, their deadlines for returning safely to 2060 are gone, and the travelers are desperately trying to contact retrieval teams. They even go so far to use cryptic messages in newspaper ads to lure the teams to find them -- to no avail.

Did the time travelers studying the Blitz of London somehow alter history significantly enough to destroy the timeline? IS there a 2060 OxfordUniversity with a time-travel department? In the process of helping people suffering the attacks of the V1 and V2 rockets and bombing raids - by saving them - have the historians twisted history enough that time itself is locked up?

Did their actions help win the war and assure their ability to travel back in time? Was history closed off from them to prevent the alteration of the war?

From page 407:

That was the cruelest irony of all, that they had undone the future out of a desire to help – Eileen’s giving Binnie aspirin to bring her fever down and tearing up the letter to keep the children from drowning. Mike’s unfouling the propeller because he couldn’t stand the thought of fourteen-year-old Jonathan being killed and pushing the two firemen away from the collapsing wall.

Even the act which had set it all in motion had come not from malice but from an innocent desire to see something beautiful. It seemed impossible that compassion and kindness should be the weapons of destruction, that just the opposite should be true. It was true that in a chaotic system, good actions could have bad consequences, but why--?

From page 398, when Mr. Dunworthy, the chargé d’affaires of the time-traveling group, tries to explain what might have happened:

Mr. Dunworthy shook his head. “We were wrong about the slippage’s function. It wasn’t a line of defense guarding against damage we might do to the continuum. It was a rearguard action against an attack that had already happened – an attempt to hold a castle whose walls had already been breached.”

“By time travel,” Polly said.

“By time travel. . . .”

How the teams work to get home – some eventually do -- has a lot to do more with the mystery of seeing travelers in spots unexpected and ways in which accidents can be repaired, over time, than anything else.

Andrew M. Andrews

In This Issue

Soft Apocalpyse Nebula Awards Showcase 2011 Click on the Book Cover for Review Best Sci-Fi of the Year Oscar Wilde & Vampire Murders

Dawn to Dusk Brave New Worlds All Clear Zombie Autopsies Best of Kim Stanley Robinson

Nightmare at 20,000 Feet Griftopia Sleight of Hand Immaculate Deception Pump Six

Sympathy for the Devil Atlantis & Othe Places Darkness Holiday Nano Comes to Clifford

Game Changers Armageddon In Retrospect   The Fall of the House of Usher Realms of Fantasy

Next Time In True Review


FLAMING ZEPPELINS: The Adventures of Ned the Seal, by Joe R. Lansdale. Tachyon Publications (, 2010, 285 pp., $14.95. ISBN 978-1-61696-002-5

FLAMING ZEPPELINS is a combination of two short novels, ZEPPELINS WEST (Subterranean Press, 2001) and FLAMING LONDON (Subterranean, 2005). The love of westerns and pulp fiction, comic books and Texas weirdness, come into play. The best campy fiction in all of America? Probably.

Andrew M. Andrews


THE COLLECTED FANTASIES VOL. 5, THE LAST HIEROGLYPH, by Clark Ashton Smith, ed. by Scott Connors and Ron Hilger. Night Shade Books (, 2010, 370 pp., $39.99. ISBN 978-1-59780-032-7

THE COLLECTED FANTASIES is the last of five volumes to collect all of Smith’s tales. Included are works ranging from “The Dark Age” (April 1938) to “The Dart of Rasasfa” (July 1961).

Andrew M. Andrews