Book Review: Pastwatch by OSC

Some books are great because of the characters. Others are great because of the cool adventure or through fun mystery. And still others which amaze the mind through great concepts.

There are few authors who successfully combine all these elements into a single novel as well as Orson Scott Card. He pulls it off again in Pastwatch: The Redemption of Chistopher Columbus.

In a distant future, an organization called Pastwatch has developed technology to examine the past in detail.  Through a device called the TruSite II, they can follow time lines and individuals through their lives to learn about the past (and of course learn from the past).

While watching an incident during the Spanish conquest of Mesoamerica, one of the more passionate and brilliant Pastwatch researches, Tagiri, learns that people from the past can sometimes “see” the watchers as they are watching the past.  This of course prompts the researches to believe that they might be able to change the past.  If they can communicate with the people of the past, they can change history.

In an effort to prevent slavery in America, Tagiri sets out to prevent Christopher Columbus from making his voyage west.  Eventually, it is learned that Columbus’ discovery of American was set in motion by a different historical time line in which a similar Pastwatch organization sent a holographic projection into the past to convince Columbus that God wants him to sail west.  This confirms that they can send objects (and perhaps people) into the past.  After learning that human existence is very much threatened because of all the past conflict, Pastwatch begins an effort to send individuals into the past to try to “fix” history and prevent or alter the events that lead to their catastrophic situation.

In a combination of science fiction and historical drama, Card explores the atrocities brought upon the Native American people and provides an alternate possibility of how things perhaps should have happened.  He shows how simple changes could have completely changed the political and social landscape throughout history. By turning Columbus from a gold-seeking pirate into a true Christian with dreams of world peace and unity, history is changed from being dominated by conflict and war into a peaceful and unifying dream.

An incredible story with intrigue, mystery, great characters, fantastic concepts, love, action (you even get some swashbuckling) and interesting social aspects.

Definitely and A+!

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