Fire Watch (short story)

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"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,[1] 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.


The story won both a Hugo Award for Best Novelette and a Nebula Award for Best Novelette.[2]

Relationships to other Willis works[edit]

"Fire Watch" (1982) was included in Willis' short-story collections Fire Watch (1984) and The Best of Connie Willis: Award-Winning Stories (2013).[3]

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.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Willis, Connie (February 1982). "Fire Watch: A Novelette". Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine. 6 (2).
  2. ^ Hugo Archived 2011-05-07 at WebCite, Nebula Archived 2011-06-05 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Willis, Connie (2013). The Best of Connie Willis: Award-Winning Stories.

External links[edit]