B00ks! Doomsday Book

Doomsday Book - Connie WillisI’ve had my Kobo Touch for about a week now and I’m loving it so much. So much so that, instead of gaming, I’ve been reading Doomsday Book by Connie Willis this week!

I finished the book this morning, what a perfect ending. Y’know, other than all the blood and gore and bells and things. If you haven’t read the book it’s based in a future that has technology which allows historians to travel back in time. Kivrin, a young historian, gets sent to the Middle Ages, but something goes wrong and she’s stuck. *insert dramatic music*

Time travel, disease, characters to care about, Christmas, characters that don’t make a lick of sense, cows, bells, tombs, more bells, adulteresses, more bells and lastly, bells.

The narration switches between Kivrin and her experiences in lovely 1320 and Mr Dunworthy, her worried overprotective unofficial mentor, in the present. The parts set in 1320, following Kivrin’s struggle to fit in with the contempts in the Middle Ages is quite interesting. The characters each feels believable and I found myself growing quite fond of most of them.

The parts set in the present by contrast, was filled with characters who seemed out of place and completely ridonculous in their settings. For one, why would anyone make Gilchrist the acting head, he disregards rules and safety to… I’m not sure what? Better Medieval’s standing within the university? Kill their first historian sent through the net? Boost his own standing? And to top it off he has no idea how the net works. I almost cried when his ignorance seemed to have lost the fix on Kivrin :/ A lot of the bits set in the present felt a bit awkward, learning about characters that don’t really seem to be that important to the plot. And yet every piece of information you get, neatly fits into a big puzzle. All the characters you meet, all the imagery used, comes in to play some way, in some other part of the book. There’s just one question I have…  do they ever find Basingame? WHAT THE HELL WAS HE DOING?!? I keep imagining that he used The Net to go vacation in another time so that no one at the University could find him… I sure hope he caught lots of salmon, or trout, or skirts, or whatever.

I like that there is some kind of explanation about time travel paradoxes. You know those pesky questions we always ask “What if you met yourself in the past?”, “Can you change the course of events?”… Well in the universe of Doomsday Book, these things simply don’t happen, because The Net ( time-travel-thing-a-ma-goefter ) wouldn’t allow the historian through, or would displace their arrival by hours, days or sometimes years to avoid a paradox. The time lapse in the past, on the other side of the net, is the same as the time that lapses in the present… (that totes made tons of sense) So if a historian were to stay, in 1320 for two weeks, they would be pulled back through The Net, two weeks later in the present, so that busts coming back before you go, and preventing yourself from going…  Pretty nifty, but the kicker: no one knows why, which probably means it probably doesn’t work that way and you could still probably become your own grandmother, WHO KNOWS?! Ah time travel, you illusive mistress.

Sadly this time travel mechanic would probably not allow a traveller to go through to 2002 and prevent the Fox executives from cancelling FireFly. Which inevitably makes it… SO LAME.

Even though I found myself thinking “Ermehgerd! Why am I reading about these things?” around the middle somewhere, everything comes together beautifully by the end. I’m quite sorry that it’s done.

I’ve been left wanting to read up on the Black Plague and other diseases / pandemics. Smallpox? It all seems devastatingly interesting. And to think, pandemics are still a threat to us in this day of medical wonders. Maybe I’ll just play some Plague Inc on my phone instead.