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Pastwatch: The Flood Hardcover – Jan 1996

4.2 out of 5 stars 94 customer reviews

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Hardcover, Jan 1996
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99 by Wayne Gretzky 99 by Wayne Gretzky

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Tor Books (January 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312858450
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312858452
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 15.2 x 2.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 789 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars 94 customer reviews
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Product Description

From Amazon

Anyone who's read Lies My Teacher Told Me : Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong knows about the devastating consequences that Columbus's voyage and ensuing colonization had on the native people of the Americas and Africa. In a thought-provoking work that is part science fiction, part historical drama, Orson Scott Card writes about scientists in a fearful future who study that tragic past, then attempt to actually intervene and change it into something better.

Tagiri and Hassan are members of Pastwatch, an academic organization that uses machines to see into the past and record it. Their project focuses on slavery and its dreadful effects, and gradually evolves into a study of Christopher Columbus. They eventually marry and their daughter Diko joins them in their quest to discover what drove Columbus west.

Columbus, with whom readers become acquainted through both images in the Pastwatch machines and personal narrative, is portrayed as a religious man with both strengths and weaknesses, a charismatic leader who sometimes rose above but often fell beneath the mores of his times. As usual, Orson Scott Card uses his formidable writing skills to create likable, complex characters who face gripping problems; he also provides an entertaining and thoughtful history lesson in Pastwatch. --Bonnie Bouman --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Playing with the time stream isn't new to science fiction, but Card (Ender's Game), who's won both a Hugo and a Nebula, gives the concept a new twist here-with mixed results. His angle is to make the temporal interference not accidental but intentional, as a group of scientists go back in time to alter Columbus's journey. Sponsored by the organization Pastwatch, which uses a machine called TruSite II to view the past in remarkable detail, the "Columbus Project" is headed by Tagiri, whose TruSite viewing of the horrors of slavery has prompted her to revise the famed explorer's agenda. Tagiri sends into the past her daughter, Diko, a Mayan descendent named Hunahpu and a man named Kemal, a prickly sort whose initial skepticism is transformed into a fierce commitment to change the past. Armed with devices from the future, the three return to 1492, determined to transform Columbus from a gold-seeking pirate into a proponent of world peace and global unity. Uniformly well-meaning, the trio is just too sanctified to believe, and in their hands, the complexities of temporal mechanics are boiled down to simplistic cause and effect. Some sparks are generated when the Pastwatchers finally meet Columbus, but even that encounter produces fewer surprises than you'd expect from a master like Card.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Far in the future, earth's population has been ravaged by war, drought, famine and plague. But the survivors have learned their lesson. Efforts are expended to replant the rain forests, reclaim the deserts, save the species that remain. No one goes hungry or uneducated.
A few scientists use machines to delve into the past, trying to understand how humanity reached such a pass. These are the focus of Card's "Pastwatch" One, Tagiri, highly sensitive to the suffering of others, sees the discovery of the Americas by Christopher Columbus and the enslavement and slaughter of the indigenous people, as the major significant event.
Discovering the strange vision that committed Columbus to his course she and her team begin to wonder if it's possible to change history - even though they know that change will not guarantee a better world and will cancel their own.
Card explores his themes through alternate narratives - Columbus' world and Tagiri's. The future is the more intriguing, especially as Tagiri's team learns the past has already been disrupted, with disastrous results. It takes a while for the Pastwatchers to jump back to Columbus' era but Card is one of Sci-Fi's best writers (winner of both the Nebula and Hugo Awards) and he keeps the pace moving.
A well-developed story with real characters and plenty of the paradoxes and moral dilemmas that make sci-fi more than space opera.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
As an avid reader of Card's novels, I approached Pastwatch enthusiastically. The slow start tempted me to contrast this novel with others in the Enders, Alvin Maker and Earth series, but I persisted. After completing Pastwatch I adopted it as the text for my Literature and Critical Thinking course; my students' have submitted their reactions in this column.

My own reactions are mixed, but net favorable.
Some of the character's attitude changes were unrealistic to me because they happened so speedily. For instance, we have Kemal acting as a sarcastic and even acid skeptic to the Columbus project becoming contrite in one paragraph due to Tagiri's respect for human free will. Kemal does, however, resume his thorn-in-the-side temperament soon after. I also found Columbus'complete change of heart in Haiti a bit rapid. Even with the inimitable help of See in the Dark. In fact, I do find credibility gaps in all of Card's texts, but I do not consider them necessarily harmful. Often these gaps stir
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
"In fourteen hundred and ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue." Five centuries later, Orson Scott Card wrote a novella titled 'Atlantis'. The connection is 'Pastwatch: the Redemption of Christopher Columbus', perhaps the finest alternate history novel yet written. In 1996's 'Pastwatch', Card weaves his compelling take on Atlantis into a still more compelling picture of Cristobal Colon and his place in our history. Along this entertaining ride we also find slavery, human sacrifice and a post-nuclear society's great moral dilemma.
For in spite of the historical overtones, 'Pastwatch' is about time travel. Future historians lay the blame for their ruined planet at the foot of global evils such as slavery. While appreciating the complex causality of our world, their technology lets them zoom in on Columbus's expansion of Europe's cultural boundaries as crucial. If he could be dissuaded from his momentous voyage, the Pastwatchers consider, we should surely erase slavery from our troubled past. 'Pastwatch' tells the story of their struggle with new data and with conscience; satisfactorily, it also tells us how, why and what they conclude.
Card writes so competently that his storytelling never interferes with the story. The result is an emotionally transformative experience, but also an insightful one. Civilized values are laid on the table so expertly that the reader can only take them to heart. To read 'Pastwatch' is to catalogue great virtues of humanity, whom Card redeems alongside Columbus. Let us, like the Pastwatchers, work to keep redemption within the pages of great books.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book was apparently the result of several games of Civilization -- Card complains to Sid Meier in the acknowledgments section -- and deals with ideas both relating to alternate histories and with a very scary extrapolation of the direction in which our own history may go. I can't say it's his best work, but he raises several thought-provoking questions about both our own history and about the "what-if's" of the past. This is why I am enjoying re-reading it: I'm generally not a fan of alternate histories, but this one also deals with current history. That being said, there are a lot of places where it seems extremely simplistic (Card's liberal attitudes are rather obvious) and I have a tremendously hard time buying into the absolute wonderfulness of the ultimate solution. Even someone like me, who believes that people are essentially good, can't believe that changing one thing in history can create the perfect utopia. In a way, I wish there were other stories in this universe because that's not like Card; nothing's ever completely perfect in his worlds and I'll bet Caribia is no exception. But based on several of the other reviews I've read, he couldn't ever find a widespread audience for the Pastwatch idea, so it will have to go down in its own history as a "might have been." And, in a way, that's a shame.
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