content by

Lydia Laurenson

Connie Willis’ Doomsday Book: Classic SF About Pandemics Explores Faith in Both Science and Spirituality

Doomsday Book is a heartbreaking, beautiful, and thoroughly-researched science fiction book about pandemics by Connie Willis. When it was first published almost thirty years ago, it won both the Hugo and the Nebula awards. It’s aged well, and it’s remarkably relevant to today’s real-life pandemic; I’ve found it both cathartic and comforting for me as I shelter in place in my San Francisco home.

I first found this book in my early teens, and the penultimate scenes made me cry and cry. It’s still just as moving, still makes me cry, although my perspective has shifted: I identify less with the excited young student and more with the mentor who fears for her safety, who’s constantly anxious about the systemic gaps around them both. Also, when I first read this book I was an atheist, and since then I’ve come to believe in God. This changed my reading experience, revealing an extraordinary spiritual story I didn’t see before.

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