To Say Nothing of the Dog

To Say Nothing of the Dog
Connie Willis, 1998

Hugo Winner - 1999

Premise: Takes place in the same world as Doomsday Book. Time-traveling researchers are struggling to determine the historical state of a cathedral that is being reconstructed when an accidental animal rescue might risk the stability of history.

I was hopeful about this book. I liked, but didn’t love, Doomsday Book, and I had heard that this one was more fun. And it is lighter. In fact, it’s nearly insubstantial.

I understand that part of the point of the plot is that the time paradoxes make it so that the characters, in the end, have no real effect on what happens. This could still be a compelling story if the characters were worth it, but they aren’t.

The main character is boring and bland: the worst example of a stereotypically British person with no character traits other than “affable.” The love interest suffers from some unpleasantly gendered tropes, and her main character trait is that she’s obsessed with old mystery novels, to the point that she relates everything in her life to them. It makes her seem even dumber than she would seem otherwise. I couldn’t stand either character.

Despite all the talk about time paradox and historical incongruities, the plot had no weight, and I found little of it interesting. I spotted nearly all the "twists" miles away, and the ones I didn't see coming were boring.

1 Star - Didn’t Like It


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