Pastwatch

Pastwatch

The Redemption of Christopher Columbus

Book - 1996
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A small group of scientists and historians, carefully trained, spend their days viewing the human past through a machine, the TruSiteII. It takes a particular talent to search the past for moments of significance. But a woman named Tagiri is more than just talented, she has a knack for finding interesting lives.
Publisher: New York : TOR, 1996
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780312850586
0312850581
Branch Call Number: SCIENCE FICTION Card
Characteristics: 351 p. ; 25 cm

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m
mammothhawk229e
Sep 08, 2017

Offbeat alternative history novel with Christopher Columbus confronted by future critics for his sins.

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danielestes
Jan 21, 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 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.

If you like the work of John Wyndam's intelligent and philosophical sci fi, you will be delighted with this story. Really, sad warning that we can't go back to undo the damage we are doing to the environment and that future Humanity is going to have to make some cataclysmic sacrifices. A memorable read.

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SqueeGirl Sep 26, 2009

A scientist who watches history through a machine called the TruSiteII discovers that a woman in the past holds the key to restoring the future.

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