Talk:Doomsday Book (novel)

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If memory serves — It's said that the time-traveler always enters after the target time, the amount of slippage varying widely. It's at least implied – either in DB or in To Say Nothing of the Dog – that the arrival point is the nearest place-and-time such that the visitor cannot cause a paradox. Because Kivrin, aiming for 1328, lands in 1348, everyone she meets will die of the plague, and therefore Kivrin's presence can have no long-term effects. —Tamfang 02:55, 8 August 2006 (UTC)

Actually, she arrives in 1348 because of a calculation error made by Badri, the technician running the drop {while he was unknowingly ill with the early stages of the influenza}. Although the theme of slippage being caused by the need to avoid paradoxes is discussed, at least in To Say Nothing of the Dog. It's also true that the complete death of everyone in the village prevents paradoxes caused by memory of Kivrin's presence, although I don't remember this being explicitly called out in the book. Dave w74 04:51, 25 October 2006 (UTC)


I may be wrong, but I had a strong impression that Kivrin somehow managed to catch a local Medieval virus (to which the Medieval characters' immune systems were largely accustomed). Otherwise, the people who were taking care of her in the 1300s would likely have died of the 21st-centrury flu long before they'd have a chance to contact Black Death.

Kivrin was exposed at a modern archaeological dig in a medieval graveyard, as were the other original cases -- the plot detail suggesting that the virus had managed to survive in bodies from the original time period. If so, than the medieval population from the location of the cemetary would, in theory, have some immunity to the influenza strain. WBardwin 01:45, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
OK, thanks, WBardwin! That makes sense. Perhaps it's nit-picking, but I think that the article should be edited to make the nature of the virus clearer. Still, I don't feel comfortable making the change for fear of messing up something else. (It's been years since I've read Doomsday Book, and I don't have a copy on hand.) - Eva


Why did the book do so well - what is special about it ? -- Beardo 01:33, 7 July 2007 (UTC)

Here is's list of editorial reviews, all glowing [1]. We should probably find the link to the New York Times review, and write a summary paragraph for the article. WBardwin 04:00, 7 July 2007 (UTC)

Fair use rationale for Image:DoomsdayBook(1stEd).jpg[edit]

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BetacommandBot 06:30, 27 October 2007 (UTC)

Rewrote summary section[edit]

Just wanted to mention that I rewrote some of the summary. Some of it was inaccurate, some unclear (see the question about slippage above), and other parts in consistent in detail (I see no point in mentioning the American bell ringers, who are only background characters, if there is no mention of Dr Ahrens, or the missing Head of History). Hopefully I did not upset anyone with that. Feel free to discuss changes here. Crito2161 (talk) 19:55, 26 May 2008 (UTC)

Perhaps there should be an introductory sentence warning that you're giving away the plot? (talk) 10:31, 20 June 2008 (UTC)


Why is the novel called “Doomsday Book”?

2009-07-18 Lena Synnerholm, Märsta, Sweden.

No idea, but it might be an allusion either directly to Doomsday (epidemics, everyone dying, etc.) or to the historical Domesday Book, although that's off by two centuries. Anyway, Wikipedia talk pages are primarily used for discussion about improving the article; for discussion about a topic, you're likely to get better responses on an internet forum of some sort. Regards, Shreevatsa (talk) 15:36, 18 July 2009 (UTC)

Well, there is an other way for me to find out this. My uncle's wife is reading a Swedish translation of the novel right now. When she has read the whole book I can just ask her.

2009-07-25 Lena Synnerholm, Märsta, Sweden. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:23, 25 July 2009 (UTC)

Angel or Saint[edit]

In the article it says that Father Roche perceived her as an angel. I haven't read the book in a long time, but was not sure if she thought she was an angel or a saint. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:48, 17 May 2010 (UTC)

He thought she was a saint, St. Catherine. I changed the summary accordingly. Caedus (talk) 00:02, 24 December 2013 (UTC)

Cell phones[edit]

Note should be made that at the time of the writing of this novel cellular telephones were just beginning to become everyday items and yet in the novel set over sixty years in the future the characters were forced ad nauseum to rely on land line phones, albeit video phones, when there is no good reason cell phones or their technological successor wouldn't be ubiquitous, enabling instant communication between characters. Instead characters in the Doomsday Book are forced to run back and forth between phones, constantly ask each other if so and so called or if so and so was able to contact so and so, instruct others to wait by phones, call each other back after missing one another's calls, and find each other incommunicado or impossible to reach again and again. Due to the short-sightedness of the author the frustration in reading about these characters' unnecessary difficulties is a distraction bordering on the intolerable. Ikuto.yagawa (talk) 03:41, 16 February 2012 (UTC)

Keep in mind that the book was published in 1992, but it probably began to be written in 1990, and cell phones didn't really become affordable (or "everyday items") until 1995, at least. Still, there was other strangely missing communication technology that Willis could have known about -- call waiting, e-mail and publicly networked computers. Plenty of reviews bring these issues up, but you need to find one from a noteworthy source to include here. (talk) 20:10, 23 July 2012 (UTC)
In 1993 my boss had a telephone in his Jaguar, but not in his pocket. —Tamfang (talk) 08:32, 9 March 2014 (UTC)
  • This isn't really a forum for discussion of the book, but if you mean that we should note in the article that cell phones were not popular yet, I think you'd definitely need a reference to some criticism that focuses on that, not just your own suppositions. Who knows why she didn't include cell phones. Virtual Light came out two years later and treated people having cell phones as a given (despite that book having a seriously dated 90s feel), so I doubt it would be reasonable to just blithely say she didn't see it coming. It may well be that in a world with raging pandemics cellular networks never got off the ground for some reason. It may be she was trying to deliberately create the atmosphere of a quaint British village as a setting for her science fiction novel. In any case, it's not our place to speculate in the article about potential anachronisms. 0x0077BE [talk/contrib] 00:37, 27 October 2014 (UTC)


I put this into the category for 1990s science fiction novels. Transcendentalist01 (talk) 00:28, 7 March 2014 (UTC)