I‘ve read this in 2014 and reviewed it at Goodreads. I thought it a good idea to copy it to this blog. The review is missing a synopsis, but you can find one at wikipedia.
This novel is in urgent need of an editor.
Most of the 2054 story line is very annoying: Everyday problems like toilet paper shortage, phone handling, mom war, etc. are just ridiculous and repeated in dozens. There is not a page where Dunworthy doesn’t worry about Kivrin. While there’s nothing wrong with this in itself, it’s just that Dunworthy doesn’t seem to have an existence outside of that worrying.
I don’t have real problems with annoyance – for example, I like Kafka’s works (e.g. the process) when it is used as an art form. But in this book I never have got the feeling that those repetitions or annoyances are needed.
I think that cutting 200 pages would have been really good for the book.
The conversations don’t build relationships but are endlessly repetitious as well.
Most characterizations are excellent. Not everyone is likeable, e.g. I find Gilchris’ objections to be quite annoying. Sometimes, I think “ok, Mrs Willis, I understood that he is an ass. Do we really need to have yet another utterance from him?”
World-building doesn’t convince me – Willis doesn’t seem to be interested in building a believable future setting of Oxford in 2054. It feels more like a 1950s version with some minor futuristic assets here and there. When the novel was first published in 1992, networked computers were well-known. I don’t blame her that she didn’t bring in the ubiquitous WWW. Compare that to Vernor Vinge’s A Fire Upon the Deep from the same year where he used discussion forums extensively. But she could have used cell phones.
The Kivrin part is ok – nothing grand, though.
Due to the somewhat better flowing last part, I round up to 2 stars. But it was merely ok for me and I cannot say that I liked it. I don’t know how someone can ignore or enjoy those annoyances and repetitions or think that they have literary quality. I don’t get it how it could have won those awards.
There must be something in it that I simply missed.
My edition from SF Masterworks contains an excellent introduction to this “trilogy” of time travel books. It mentions her Nebula award winning novelette Fire Watch from 1982 which is freely available at http://www.infinityplus.co.uk/stories/firewatch.htm
Meta: isfdb. It won the Hugo, the first one ever.