All ClearBook - 2010
Winner of the Nebula Award
Traveling back in time, from Oxford circa 2060 into the thick of World War II, was a routine excursion for three British historians eager to study firsthand the heroism and horrors of the Dunkirk evacuation and the London Blitz. But getting marooned in war-torn 1940 England has turned Michael Davies, Merope Ward, and Polly Churchill from temporal tourists into besieged citizens struggling to survive Hitler's devastating onslaught. And now there's more to worry about than just getting back home: The impossibility of altering past events has always been a core belief of time-travel theory--but it may be tragically wrong. When discrepancies in the historical record begin cropping up, it suggests that one or all of the future visitors have somehow changed the past--and, ultimately, the outcome of the war. Meanwhile, in 2060 Oxford, the stranded historians' supervisor, Mr. Dunworthy, frantically confronts the seemingly impossible task of rescuing his students--three missing needles in the haystack of history. The thrilling time-tripping adventure that began with Blackout now hurtles to its stunning resolution in All Clear .
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You don't want to have anything to do with me, Polly wanted to scream at them. The continuum's going to vainly keep on trying to correct itself, and next time it will get me and all of you.
No one person or thing won the war. People argue over whether it was Ultra or the evacuation from Dunkirk or Churchill's leadership or fooling Hitler into thinking we were invading at Calais that won the war, but it wasn't any one of them. It was all of them and a thousand, a million, other things and people. And not just soldiers and pilots and Wrens, but air-raid wardens and planespotters and debutantes and mathematicians and weekend sailors and vicars. . . . Canteen workers and ambulance drivers and ENSA chorus girls. And historians.
And then the good fairy said, 'The spell is already cast, and I cannot undo it, but I will do what I can.'
I wasn't looking where I was going - an apt metaphor for the entire history of time travel.
We do not rely on hope alone, though hope is our bulwark, our light through dark days and darker nights. We also work, and fight, and endure, and it does not matter whether the part we play is large or small. The reason that God marks the fall of the sparrow is that he knows that it is as important to the world as the bulldog or the wolf. We all, all must do 'our bit.' For it is through our deeds that the war will be won, through our kindness and devotion and courage that we make that better world for which we long.
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