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Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus Mass Market Paperback – February 15, 1997
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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
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
For in spite of the historical overtones, 'Pastwatch' is about time travel. Future historians lay the blame for their ruined planet at the foot of global evils such as slavery. While appreciating the complex causality of our world, their technology lets them zoom in on Columbus's expansion of Europe's cultural boundaries as crucial. If he could be dissuaded from his momentous voyage, the Pastwatchers consider, we should surely erase slavery from our troubled past. 'Pastwatch' tells the story of their struggle with new data and with conscience; satisfactorily, it also tells us how, why and what they conclude.
Card writes so competently that his storytelling never interferes with the story. The result is an emotionally transformative experience, but also an insightful one. Civilized values are laid on the table so expertly that the reader can only take them to heart. To read 'Pastwatch' is to catalogue great virtues of humanity, whom Card redeems alongside Columbus. Let us, like the Pastwatchers, work to keep redemption within the pages of great books.
So often, in science fiction, the author sacrifices character development, themes, and even plot, for the sake of playing with futuristic machines and technology. Card does not. All the characters are rich, three-dimensional, taking turns you wouldn't expect. He spends great time on each character, delving into their lives, to explain what they did and why, and who they are and how they effect others. The plot likewise is worthy of O'Henry, and the very concept ingenious. This is one further error that Card avoids- so many SciFi writers are all concept, but can't put the concept to paper in a gripping story. Here the plot is intimately connected to the characters, for it is plots within plots, with themes throughout of trying to understand why people act the way they do, and what it is (within their own history, and the history going back many generations) that causes them to act. For all the evil Columbus did, or initated (truly, a great amount), here, we see a real man, flawed, like any man; heroic, like some men- and what he could have been.
But Card's biggest success is perhaps his philosophical musings.Read more ›
The first half of the book mostly has the characters observing the past through thier TruSite machines which is intercut with segments from Christopher Columbus' own life. One of the things that I liked about the book was how Card made Columbus into a sympathetic human character instead of just treating him as a heroic figure. This book is actually a far better study of Columbus than either of the two critcally panned 1992 biopics "Christopher Columbus: The Discovery" and "1492: Conquest of Paradise." At times, though, I found the writing, especially here in the first part of the novel, to be a bit too heavy handed and complex. There are a few segments where Card gets way too bogged down in detail and this slowed me down considerably during the midsection of the book.
The second half of the novel, though, is fast paced and entertaining as three of the characters actually travel back in time to try and change the course of history. Here we get even more insights into the life of Columbus and although the whole "time traveller from the future is thought to be a God" is a bit of a sci-fi cliche, it is handled very well here.
So while I still haven't exactly been converted to a hardcore science fiction fan, I would reccomend this book to fans of fantasy, historical fiction and anyone who is interested in the subject of Columbus.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The book Pastwatch is a very interesting read. It puts a new twist on historical events, and is thought provoking. I enjoy Orson Scott Card and this book did not disappoint me.Published 16 days ago by D. Wood
This is a book that I wish I had written. Such an interesting sci-fi premise which Card has extrapolated to some wonderful extremes. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Christopher R. Harvey
This book is good if you like science fiction dealing with controversial topics such as the Trinity, fornication, time travel, slavery, and Christopher Columbus.Published 5 months ago by Teri Brown
I love this book. I may not like Card the man but boy can he write!Published 6 months ago by A. Gift For You
It's Scott Card ... need I say anything else? Great read. Would LOVE a sequel that includes the "new" universe.Published 8 months ago by Jpherb
So, so good, One of my favorite books of all time, and easily the best thing I've ever read by OSC. Thoroughly researched, brilliantly crafted, thought-provoking and inspiring.Published 10 months ago by Whit Gurley