Monday, August 20, 2012

Book review: Pastwatch: the Redemption of Christopher Columbus by Orson Scott Card

Pastwatch: the Redemption of Christopher Columbus
 Orson Scott Card
(my own photo)
I would like to start out this post by thanking my friend for lending me loads of awesome books, including this one.
This book is set in the future; humankind has nearly destroyed the Earth, but are now starting to rebuild society.  One way of rebuilding is through Pastwatch, a group of historians who use a machine called Tempoview to look into the past.  However, some historians believe that they should go further; that they should try and go back in time and make the world a better place by altering the results of the voyage of Christopher Columbus.

I thought that this book was really exciting, and the pacing was really good.

The idea of letting people see into the past and to travel through time isn't by any means unique, but I think that it was very well thought out.  I really enjoyed the comments about the technical side of the machines used to look into the past.

One part of a novel that can be really make or break for me are the characters, and personally I found the characters in this novel to be lacking.  Too many of the characters were completely flat and flawless.

Then there was the alternative history.  Now, I don’t pretend to be a historian or an expert on Columbus, but this book seemed to suggest that if Columbus’ voyage were somehow changed that the world would become a better place at virtually no cost.  The Columbus legacy is really complicated and I don't think that the treatment of the topic was sufficiently nuanced.  Also, if the goal of these historians was to make the world a better place with less suffering and slavery, then why didn't they go even further back in time and prevent slavery from being invented? Time travel is difficult to write about, and I don't think that this book dealt with the topic particularly well

Chance of finding it in my imaginary bookstore: 60%

I wrote this post before I knew about Orson Scott Card's attitude towards homosexuality.  I think that it is unacceptable, and this blog post was in no way meant to suggest that I condone this.

Chance of finding it in my imaginary bookstore? 0%