Fire Watch (short story)
"Fire Watch" is a science fiction novelette by American writer Connie Willis. The story, first published in Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine in February 1982, involves a time-traveling historian who goes back to the Blitz in London, to participate in the fire lookout at St. Paul's Cathedral.
The protagonist has a deep emotional attachment to the Cathedral and is highly devoted to his role in defending it - especially due to his bitter knowledge that St. Paul's would survive the World War II bombings but would be obliterated in a terrorist attack in the protagonist's own time.
Relationships to other Willis works
The idea of a time-traveling history department at Oxford University, introduced in this novelette, was also used in her later novels Doomsday Book (1992), To Say Nothing of the Dog (1997), and Blackout/All Clear (2010), as was the character of Professor James Dunworthy.
Although Willis' writing of "Fire Watch" predates the production of Doomsday Book by about a decade, Kivrin Engle, the main character of Doomsday Book, also appears as a minor character in "Fire Watch". The novelette references Engle's experience with the Black Plague while time-traveling in the 14th century.
- Text of the story at Infinity Plus
- Fire Watch title listing at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database
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