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)
I have read most of what Card has written and this is one of my favorites. I enjoyed the exploration of what humanity is and what sacrifice for humanity may require. The readers are excellent and I recognized them from the Ender's Game audio book so I was thrilled to see them doing this one also. Though this book is somewhat different than his other books, it still explores the human condition which is a favorite topic of Cards. I thought the characters were more developed than some of his other books. I cared about them a great deal and felt their pain as they struggled to make decisions that affected all of humanity. I enjoyed the thought experiment of what does it mean to change history at the cost of your own history.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I have read a few of the other reviews for this novel and was surprised to find a lot of negativity with respect to the historical and philosophical content. I enjoyed listening to the lives of people of whom I'd only briefly heard in history text books. It reminded me in that way of the Ken Follet book, Pillars. The characters from 500 years ago seemed more real, believable, and far less boring then I'd originally thought. The philosophical dialogues about time travel and reality, while a bit difficult, were just a small part of the novel. And I believe it's good to think about difficult and strange things sometimes.
I have read and listened to many of OSC's books and have enjoyed all that I've come across. This book, while perhaps not as Sci-Fi as some might expect, was very entertaining. The characters were moving, and the narrators were great - You'll recognize the narrators from the Ender's Game series. Several times I found myself stalling whatever errand I had to get to so that I could find out what would happen next - a sure sign of a good thing.
I thought this book was wonderful, and would definitely recommend it.
I read this book originally when I was in Afghanistan in 2003. I remember that I got a brand new copy out of a sack of books that some good citizen sent over as a care package. What a treat. I remember at the time that I was rereading old John Grisham novels; audiobooks were something that I was barely into at the time, In Germany I had bought some Left Behind audiobooks at the PX, that's probably what really got me hooked, but I had long since listened to those and this book was fresh material. Anywho, I couldn't put this book down once I got into it back then, and likewise I couldn't stop listening to this audiobook once I got into it recently. I had forgotten some things about the book in the past five years. It's amazing to go back and listen to books that you've read and pick up on things you'd missed.
The book is a really great concept and it kind of makes you think real hard about the influences that shape history, and how a handful of motivated people really push things in the world, and between my two readings it made me think of how my impressions have been influenced by recent history and how I have changed in the past five years. Only great books have that power.
Also I would like to thank Orson Scott Card for his new Sci-Fi review page on audible.com. I had wondered out loud in a previous review what Mr. Card thought of audible.com. I suppose that he has given his endorsement and this is good. For me audible is the most valuable service on the internet aside from iTunes. I would never have discovered a book like Star Born without his suggestion, and right now I have Star Born and Star Dance in my shopping cart. Time to head off to the stars. Thanks again.
I enjoyed the book, when I finally finished it.
There was a great deal of earnest ethical debating, much of which I found to be tedious. It's like there was 85% prologue debate and 15% story and action.
As I said I did end up appreciating the book and its redemption.
My wife and her brother had been telling me to read this book for a couple of years, but it wasn't on audio and I have no time for dead trees.
As both a time travel fanatic and a devotee of alternate histories, I thought this book was extremely well done. The level of craft that went into not just developing the details, but telling the story in a coherent and compelling way, is highly admirable.
Also, it is really interesting to see how Christianity fits into the plot. I'm a Pagan, but I really like how it was used here and don't see how the story could have been done without it.
I bought this book because OSC had written it and I enjoy most of his work. The description was not compelling to me, but I pressed play. What a wonderful tale! The blending of history and SCIFI is as smooth and seamless as I've ever experience. The possibility of a present vastly different from our own is very compelling. It is a bold and panoramic landscape rendered to the detail of sand grains. Read it.
Orson Scott Card is a favorite author, and I enjoy his column here on Audible. I did not enjoy Pastwatch; I'm afraid he missed the mark in this ambitious undertaking. If you read the book, you'll understand the title about the redemption of Columbus. It promises more than the book delivers.
Both the plot description and the sample were intriguing. Although the book started well, it foundered towards the end of the first part and stuck that way well into the second. The "philosophical" arguments were repetitive, tedious, and often just plain silly. I found myself wanting to shout at the characters that they were talking nonsense -- then this nonsense turned into resolution of the book! The worst of it came from the female characters who initiated the "dialogue" out of sheer emotion -- not that the males were exempt, not by any means -- and gave me a creepy sense of a sexist undertone. None of the characters inspired empathy in me, nor could I identify or empathize with much of their behavior. I found them to be flat and two-dimensional, very much just vehicles for the creeping, tedious "advancement" of the plot.
Most of the time I rewind and listen to passages again to make sure that I haven't missed anything; it's easy to do with an audiobook. Not with this one. I often fell asleep with this book, as one reviewer said it was little more than background noise. I could hardly wait to finish it, and discovered that the parts I may have missed didn't make a bit of difference.
The narrators do a splendid job, they just don't have that much to work with.
This was my first Orson Scott Card book. After reading the other reviews, I thought this would be right up my alley since I love history, sci-fi, and time travel related stories. It took so long for anything significant to happen that I lost interest several times and had to rewind a bit after laying off up to a week in order to get back into it. In fact, I actually fell asleep on the book 3 or 4 times.
Having said that, the plot is based on an excellent concept. "What if" stories can be exciting and thought provoking if done well. The last 2 hours are quite good. Unfortunately, it takes the author too long to get to get to the point.
1. Characters get into massively circular arguments that seem to take forever. Example:
Person 1. We need to go back in time to fix this.
Person 2. I agree, but it's impossible.
Person 1. But we have no choice, we must.
Person 2. If it were possible we might, but it's not. And would we have a right to if we could?
Person 1. Maybe not, but we have to. So we must.
Person 2. Ok, we have to. But we can't because it's not possible. So we won't.
Person 1. But we must, and I think we can, so we will. We just have to figure out how.
Person 2. I don't think we can, so I won't believe it if we do, but ok.
Imagine that conversation lasting 15 minutes but accomplishing no more. That will give you an idea why this book lasts over 13 hours. It's very long winded.
2. Author seemed to overtly reach far and wide to find all unique names I've never heard before. It may be boring if everyone is named Steve, but are there to be no westerners in the future?
3. Gives very detailed historical accounts with extremely long dialogs between characters that would fit well into a history book but are not really important to a novel. You can feel the author thinking, 'I'm mixing real history with fiction.' Comes across as forced and artificial integration of two different genres.
Card's ability to represent fiction with reason and fact makes this story so interesting. It really makes you think. The only issue I had with this book was that the ending what a little anti-climatic.
I like the point about slavery being better than human sacrifice. However, a population of hard working immigrants who valued freedom is what made America an innovative bastion of capitalism. Slavery couldn't have ended without capitalism to take its place. I doubt the immigrants would have come to America if they knew the land was occupied. Therefore Capitalism would have stalled and slavery would have returned.
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