In one of the most powerful and thought-provoking novels of his remarkable career, Orson Scott Card interweaves a compelling portrait of Christopher Columbus with the story of a future scientist who believes she can alter human history from a tragedy of bloodshed and brutality to a world filled with hope and healing.
©1996 Orson Scott Card; (P)2005 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
"A bold and compassionate alternative history filled with believable historical and fictional characters." (Library Journal)
Spoiler alert! Since one problem is with the plot, I may be giving twists away.
I don't usually like alternate history, since the past is immutable. But I'm an ardent fan of the Ender and Bean novels about the future. Orson Scott Card thinks deeply about all he writes, and I was interested in his take on the Europeans' arrival in the Americas.
Problem is, we get multiple alternate histories in Pastwatch. The brilliant scientists in the story have evidently never heard of the Law of Unintended Consequences.
I willingly suspend disbelief for most novels. This one contains too many improbabilities for me and perhaps for the like-minded.
The narration is also inconsistent. I'd listen to Stefan Rudnicki read anything, but some of the other narrators are not very expressive.
But I'd have held on if not for the improbabilities.
Always like this author but the blend of history, socialogy, anthropology, and sci-fi was great! What the world might have been like if only a few little things had gone differently.
This book comes very close to being as great a story as his best book Ender's Game; however, it is totally not related to the Ender's series. It happens in our far distant future with people having equipment that allows them to watch the past. With the invention of the next generation of equipment, stronger and more sensitive to viewing the past - someone in the past in a drug induced dream becomes aware that the future is watching them. This really starts the storyline moving.
Excellent book as I come to expect from Orson. His ideas and storytelling ability make for a very enjoyable read. He merges history and science fiction to give us some thought provoking views on how our world might be, both in the future of the book and in our own reality.
If you think the world would have been better off if Western civilization had been stopped in its tracks in 1492, then you will probably like this book. If you think Western civilization is a scourge upon the Earth and everyone (else) needs to live in a mud hut or the planet is doomed, then you will absolutely LOVE this book. I can't believe that not one of the reviews of Pastwatch I read on Audible even mentioned the looney ideological premise upon which it is based, which I believe I have accurately characterized above.
Do people really believe such things? I suppose they do. Or at least it's very fashionable to say you do as you drive around in your car talking on your cell phone. Perhaps I am just not "open minded" enough to swallow this sort of guff, even in a science fiction story. Maybe the world would have been better off without Shakespeare, Newton, and Locke, without science, reason, democracy and other such Western novelties. Maybe it would have been a kinder, gentler, cleaner, and saner world if instead the glorious Aztec civilization had dominated the world. Eat your heart out, European dogs! No, somehow I don't think so, but if you do, or like to feel good about yourself because you do, then this book is definitely for you. Enjoy. For those who don't, be warned, it's gonna be a trying thirteen hours.
I loved all the other books I read for OSC, however, this one was a disappointment for me! The reason is that is crosses a fine line between fiction and distorting historic facts and at times, trivializing certain beliefs and religious symbols and facts. I'm all for fictional history with good twists, but to use actual historic figures (like Noha), and distorting the historical facts in all religious books is another matter! After going to almost quarter of the book I couldn't go any further and I was very uncomfortable with the connotation and the clear distortions and intentional misinterpretations of the past!
For example, to say that the Muslims were enslaving people in Africa is a clear example of Olsen’s own prejudge towards Islam! One of the main messages of Islam is that everyone is equal in the eyes of God and it put a lot of rules to reduce slavery that existed long before Islam came.
This is not Ender's Game of Ender's Shadow. The performers did the best they could but this work was dull as a box of rocks. I gave up on it toward the end of the third hour.
This is a hard book for me to rate. I know Orson Scott Card is a mormon and normally I won't buy his books as I do not wish to financially support mormons in any way. But this was on sale and I'll admit it, I'm a sucker for time travel, so I bit.
The reason Pastwatch is hard for me to rate is because Orson Scott Card is a really good writer. The story is interesting and while the future characters might be a bit skimpy compared to the historical characters, for the most part they are all well written. The premise - future people going back from a ruined planet to deliberately change human history for the better- is thought provoking. The historical segments are interesting and believable. Over all, this is one of the better Audible books I have listened to in a while, as far as the quality goes.
But here's where the trouble is for me (and it's a bit of a spoiler alert, so if you're okay with christians converting Indigenous people then buy the book and read no further). The basis of this story is the idea that if only christianity had been introduced to the New World in a nicer way, everything would have been okay- races would respect each other, the planets resources would not have been over extended, we would live in a kinder, gentler world etc, etc. This is just fatally flawed to me. I don't think religious missions are ever good, and I don't think native people should have been converted to christianity (and I live in the Navajo Nation, so I get to see the painful fall out from this every day). Mostly, I resent religious proselytizing mixed in with my time travel. This left a bad taste in my mouth and the wish that I had stuck to my no-supporting-mormons rule, sale or no sale.
I LOVE Orson Scott Card - but this book was the most boring book I have ever listened to. It was background noise at most.
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