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Pastwatch : The Redemption of Christopher…

Pastwatch : The Redemption of Christopher Columbus (1996)

by Orson Scott Card

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Pastwatch (1)

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This is an idea book, not a character book. Thoughtful and well-researched reflection on history. There is morality in it as well as clever and compassionate characters that make the book enjoyable. There's a plethora of characters and multiple jumps between the 22nd and 15th century that make it sometimes hard to follow. A ponderable book that's enjoyable. If you could change one moment in history to influence the current world, which would you choose? Would you do it? ( )
  buffalogr | Aug 31, 2015 |
The most interesting thing about this story is the way in which things that looked like divine intervention from one aspect, looked completely different from the other. As a believer, it gave me some idea of how God might look at us - how He watches and knows us, how He sometimes intervenes and other times must not interfere. This is fiction, not theology, and I'm sure that was not the intention of the author, but nevertheless, some definite food for thought. And the idea that the conquest of the new world could have gone a different way - that was speculation at its best. ( )
  tjsjohanna | May 23, 2015 |
In fourteen hundred ninety-two Columbus sailed the ocean blue...only Orson Scott Card's Pastwatch is wholly unlike any other Columbus story you've ever heard. This one's fiction of course. Though calling it historical fiction would be incomplete. It's more like a sci-fi historical adventure thriller. But Card is no pulp novelist. When he's on his game his stories contain a layer of non-pompous intellectual authenticity, an ability no doubt derived from decades of accumulated curiosity. Card has a gift for combining the expansive ranges of history, religions, politics, military intrigue and theoretical futures all into realistic scenarios that play out the rise and fall of empires over time.

Pastwatch, in the context of this story, is a technological marvel. Scientists of the near future created it to study the visual record of Earth's past. In the beginning, the machines only allowed for periodic study on the scale of decades or centuries—useful for following weather patterns and geological movements—but then as the tools were refined the researchers could now look more closely at the lives of people and start to learn about cultures from long ago. Meanwhile, the Earth of this near future in the time of Pastwatch is undergoing a resource drought of planetary proportions. In other words, the human population is in decline. This is the state of things until one day an intrepid Pastwatch member discovers a secret so unbelievable that it may yet give humanity another chance at survival. Though it's a chance that would come at great cost.

After reading Ender's Game, I didn't expect Orson Scott Card to achieve anywhere near that level of page-turning brilliance ever again. Pastwatch comes oh-so close. ( )
  Daniel.Estes | Sep 29, 2014 |
After Ender's Game, this is my favorite Orson Scott Card book. I'm waiting to read the next book in the Pastwatch series, whenever it comes out.
The plot twist at the end is certainly farfetched, given what I've learned from other non-fiction books (like "Guns, Germs, and Steel") about what happens when different cultures meet, but if you let yourself get absorbed in the story, it's great. ( )
  piersanti | Sep 28, 2014 |
Thoroughly enjoyable. I've spent more hours pondering thoughts related to this book than most books I've read. If you could change one moment in history to influence the current world, which would you choose? OSC's answer, this book, is compelling. ( )
  drhapgood | Jul 27, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Orson Scott Cardprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Federo, PatriceDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rudnicki, StefanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Snowdon-Romer, ThomasCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Tom Doherty, The publisher from the planet Krypton: His heart is gold, His word is steel, And he knows the territory.
First words
Some people call it "the time of undoing"; some, wishing to be more positive, spoke of it as "the replanting" or "the restoring" or even "the resurrection" of the Earth. (Prologue)
There was only one time when Columbus despaired of making his voyage. (Chapter One)
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Haiku summary
A doomed world's last hope:
Unweave time, stitch it proper.
A new life through him.


Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0812508645, Mass Market Paperback)

Anyone who's read Lies My Teacher Told Me : Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong knows about the devastating consequences that Columbus's voyage and ensuing colonization had on the native people of the Americas and Africa. In a thought-provoking work that is part science fiction, part historical drama, Orson Scott Card writes about scientists in a fearful future who study that tragic past, then attempt to actually intervene and change it into something better.

Tagiri and Hassan are members of Pastwatch, an academic organization that uses machines to see into the past and record it. Their project focuses on slavery and its dreadful effects, and gradually evolves into a study of Christopher Columbus. They eventually marry and their daughter Diko joins them in their quest to discover what drove Columbus west.

Columbus, with whom readers become acquainted through both images in the Pastwatch machines and personal narrative, is portrayed as a religious man with both strengths and weaknesses, a charismatic leader who sometimes rose above but often fell beneath the mores of his times. As usual, Orson Scott Card uses his formidable writing skills to create likable, complex characters who face gripping problems; he also provides an entertaining and thoughtful history lesson in Pastwatch. --Bonnie Bouman

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:51 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

After a scientific innovation allows researchers to open a window on the past, a young woman sends an individual onto a slightly different path in life, interference that has unexpected repercussions for the present and future.

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