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Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus

(Pastwatch #1)

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  13,207 ratings  ·  923 reviews
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.
Paperback, 402 pages
Published February 15th 1997 by Tor Science Fiction (first published 1996)
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3.97  · 
Rating details
 ·  13,207 ratings  ·  923 reviews

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Jul 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
Orson Scott Card’s very entertaining 1996 novel Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus is a time travel book and so much more.

Many great science fiction / fantasy writers have had fun and great success with time travel as an extension of their speculative vision. Heinlein, Poul Anderson, Bradbury, de Camp, H.G. Wells, Vonnegut, Twain, and Piers Anthony to name just a few. There seems to be as many approaches to the time travel conundrum as there are writers, but generally falling into
Rhyd Wildermuth
Apr 10, 2008 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: Homophobes, Fundamentalists, Misogynists, White Supremacists, and Mormons
No one can begrudge Card for using Sci-Fi as a field for propaganda: the medium itself (world-creation/world-defining) by nature almost requires it.

But unless you're rather fond of the idea that mormon "family values" are somehow universal, and extend throughout the whole history of humanity, than you might not go for this book.

I didn't.

If you're the sort who watches the history channel and finds it profound, somehow missing the propaganda within a narrative of human actions throughout record
Joe Valdez
Nov 22, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The next stop in my time travel marathon was Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus, the 1996 novel by Orson Scott Card. This was my introduction to Card, one of the more prolific science fiction authors working; his Ender saga alone equals the flex of most writers out there. Pastwatch was rumored to be the beginning of a series, and with the attention to both character and history, as well as dedication to a rousing good tale, I couldn't be more excited to visit this world again.

4.0 to 4.5 stars. Another superb novel by OSC. Apart from Empire which I did not like, I have found Card's novels to be consistently excellent and both Speaker for the Dead and Hart's Hope are on my list of "All Time Favorites" (with Ender's Game not far behind.

I was surprised to see that this novel was not among the list of nominees for any of the SF awards during its year of eligibility. It was certainly worthy of being recognized as one of the best of 1996. RECOMMENDED!!
This book is in the key of C Minor, because it's just that tragic.

Final Verdict: 0.0000000000000000000000000000000000000001 Stars

Sometimes, English teachers make horrible choices.
Pastwatch is no exception.
It was a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad book.

Three Big Things that Epically Suck About Pastwatch, in No Particular Order
The First: The Plot Holes
In Pastwatch, the characters go back in time and try to prevent the people of the past from dying. In one scene of the book, Manjam (a scie
Apr 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
This is an idea book, not a character book. In this book, Card is exploring the idea that a group of people would deliberately go back in time to alter events in such a way that human history would work out "better." The height of hubris, definitely, for any group of mortals to think they could predict future events accurately enough to know what to "improve." I think that Card is right that humanity would have to be in the brink of extinction before they would permit such an experiment.

There ar
Hugh Henry
Dec 24, 2007 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: No one
Shelves: fiction
This is a well-written work of science fiction, as are all of Card's works. Like his Rachel and Leah, however, the characters of this book who pretend to be historical are not very accurate. I enjoy good fiction and exciting narratives. I dislike fiction masquerading as history or a work such as this blurring the lines between history and fiction so thoroughly that it is impossible to see where the imagination ends and facts begin.
The idea that the voyage of Columbus changed the entire face of
Aitziber Conesa
Aug 26, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Orson Scott Card nos enseña como NO narrar. Eso por no mencionar toda la ideología sin masticar qué pretende que nos comamos por su cara bonita.
Alisi ☆ wants to read too many books ☆
Aug 10, 2012 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: This book is perfect for psychologically breaking a person.
Before I start this, I just have to say I have this kind of funny reaction to Card's books. I may like or love a book/series but when I find one that I hate, I want to tear the heavens apart and demand Card pay for my mental illness that was caused by reading it.

I mean, I hate-hate-hate-hate with a passion that borders on religious fervor. There is no meh or disappointed or even mild hatred or annoyance.

This is because Card is a very good story teller. He's made a huge name for himself and this

"Who am I, she thought, if I dare to answer prayers intended for the gods?

Pastwatch es una organización en un futuro post-apocaliptico que se dedica a observar mediante máquinas el pasado de la raza humana. Hay diferentes personas siguiendo diversos proyectos, y la novela se centra en un principio en Tagiri que empieza a estudiar las raices de su familia en África y termina interesada en la esclavitud y la convierte en su 'cruzada'. Y dejenme decirles que hay muchos fanáticos 'cruzados' en
Bruce Sanders
May 26, 2008 rated it liked it
This was recommended to me by a friend. It is an alternative history book rather than what I'd call a sci-fi book and I'm not really an alternative history fan. Pastwatch is an organization that does what it says. Via special machines Pastwatch personnel are able to tap into the past and watch history. One day one of the workers discovers that it may be possible to interact with the past and thus change the past (and everything in the future that follows from that change). It is later discovered ...more
Claude Bertout
Feb 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommended by Jocelyn and Joje. It's a science-fiction, utopian novel as well as a thoughtful and well-researched reflection on History and its twists, a moral tale filled with lovely, compassionate and clever characters. At some point in my reading, I thought that the story was lacking a major villain (there is a minor one) to make the plot even more exciting and a little less heavy on the politically correct, but this may have been my wicked mind speaking. In the end, I came to realize that a ...more
Shaun Brady
May 04, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: geek
I was really excited about this book. Most of Card's works are brilliant. An alt-history-sci-fi tale centered around Christopher Columbus what could go wrong? Well a lot.

The characters are emotionless, devoid of any characteristics. Columbus is turned into this demi-sex god who women can't resist. All of this could be forgiven with a decent story, instead we get a heavy handed preaching sermon of the authors beliefs. Nevermind the gaping plot holes with Pastwatch since there is little oversight.
Apr 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Great, great book. I've mentioned recently in reviews that I've read some time travel books people have recommended as "as good as Connie Willis" and they never turn out to be; this is the only other book I can think of that I put on the same level as Doomsday Book and To Say Nothing of the Dog (though I read it first, so really, it was more like reading Doomsday Book and thinking it was as good as Pastwatch). Highly recommended.
Dorathy Dotson
Oct 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was a very interesting read- not your typical time-travel sci-fi book. It had a really cool view of history and the book really makes you think. Welker-sensei, I think you'd probably enjoy this one!
Sarah Hipple
May 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Pastwatch is a really interesting alternate history by Orson Scott Card.

It is really hard to give a summary of this book without giving away any spoilers. Normally I'd give a short summary and then go into my opinions, but I don't feel comfortable giving a summary here because one of the most important plot points isn't something you discover until half way through the book, and I'm not going to ruin that for you guys.

One of the most interesting parts of this book is that it takes place during t
Oct 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
“I guess every writer who considers writing fiction occasionally has the experience of running across a book whose plot is one he was working on himself, thinking it an original idea.

I have had an idea for a SF novel very much along the lines of Pastwatch for at least 10 years. I never had the drive to bring the idea to life, just some sketches and development ideas. So I was shocked when I read Pastwatch. I realized how much of what we think is our own idea is just floating out there in the Zei
Such a headtrip for history buffs, this story invovles time travel, social culpability for genocide, archaeology, and more!
Tabitha Finlinson
Jan 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
I really liked the overall concept of this book. If we had the ability to change the past, would we and how do we know that we wouldn't bring on a future worse than what we are trying to avoid?

The detail of the history of Christopher Columbus was also interesting. I'm not sure where the line of fiction and non is crossed (Card does cite his sources at the end so clearly he did his research!), but the story was certainly engaging.
Dec 03, 2017 rated it it was ok
Outside of Ender's Game I'm not a big fan of Scott Card's work -- the few I've tried to read have put me to sleep. So, on that front this is a rousing success. Essentially a book about time travel, humans in the future have the ability to look back on all of human history, and realize that they can go back and reshape that history to undo all manner of evil. I don't think Scott Card fully understands how this world works, though; the explanation of how Pastwatch functions isn't real clear, and w ...more
Jul 23, 2018 rated it did not like it
This book is 280 pages of people talking about doing things and only 60 pages of people actually doing those things that they already spent 280 pages talking about doing. Characters are introduced and then never really utilized. Characters that are utilized frequently defer to and reference characters that barely made an impression at the beginning of the book. In general, it's just not a well written story.

As far as the philosophy behind it, it's a pedantic story with the ending message, "Chris
Dec 09, 2009 rated it liked it
This is only the second Orson Scott Card book I’ve read. When it comes to sci-fi, I’m an Arthur C. Clarke fan all the way, and don’t dabble in much else. As with Ender’s Game I came to Pastwatch via a friend’s recommendation. She had others of Card’s books she liked more, but I opted to try this one because of the subject material. I was curious to see how Card would depict Columbus, a prominent figure in Card’s (and my) native culture of Mormonism.

In short, I didn’t find the book especially
May 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed this book very much. It is one of the best fiction books I have read in months. It is an engaging time travel story with an ending that I found to be very uplifting. I read a few of the other reviews on Goodreads that are at the top of the list, some of which are very negative. I have this to say: You will not like this book if you think that Orson Scott Card is an evil person. You will not like this book if you believe that things like fidelity in marriage and treating others with res ...more
Apr 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: All
Recommended to Regina by: Dwight
Loved it!!! I LOVE time-travel/historical fiction/alternate reality stories. I am also in love with books that can broaden my horizons, tell a compelling story, and have great writing. This definitely fit the bill. It is well written, had a great plot, the characters were interesting, and it was thought provoking.

My love of this genre started for me with "the Magic Tunnel" where children travel back to 1664, when New York was New Amsterdam. I also loved "The Devil's Arithmetic" where 12 year old
Dora Gao
Feb 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Pastwatch was one of those books that got better and better as I read. The concept of being able to change history is incredibly fascinating, both from a physics time-travel point of view, and from a historical/philosophical context. The concept of "Pastwatch" - being able to scroll through history as if watching it on film (or microfilm, as it were, which is how I pictured it in the book) is both well-constructed and well-executed in the book. Definitely a recommended read for history buffs, sc ...more
Christopher Rush
Jul 07, 2018 rated it liked it
This has been on my short "got to get to" list for some time now, mainly since hearing Mr. Card speak at a special gathering, and the opportunity presented itself here in the midst of my "catch-up on my missed '90s sci-fi phase." Many in the audience at the OSC event spoke highly of this, and I can sense its appeal when it first came out, back in those halcyon days of so many great science fiction and fantasy television series and books were coming out in waves, and the Bulls could never lose, a ...more
Jan 12, 2019 rated it liked it
This wasn't my favorite Orson Scott Card book, but it was still a good read. I don't think I've ever read anything bad by him; so I'm not surprised at all. I thought the story was very interesting, but a little sad because some of the things I wanted to happen couldn't happen with how the story went. Unfortunately, I can't put much detail into this review as it has been several months between reading the book and posting my review, and the things I remember clearly would definitely be considered ...more
Nate Balcom
Jan 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What a fantastic novel! Premise: Historians from the distant future can watch events in the past to learn about humankind. They focus on Christopher Columbus and determine he caused a series of horrible problems when he set sail for the Orient.

With twin plotlines following Columbus in the 1400's and the Pastwatchers in the future, this book explores incredible themes of change and the impact of one human life on the world. A must-read for fans of world history, as well as fans of Doctor Who, Ba
Vicki Guiltner
Jul 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I really hope somebody makes a movie from this book...
Jul 02, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Orson Scott Card is the author of the novels Ender's Game, Ender's Shadow, and Speaker for the Dead, which are widely read by adults and younger readers, and are increasingly used in schools.
Besides these and other science fiction novels, Card writes contemporary fantasy (Magic Street, Enchantment, Lost Boys), biblical novels (Stone Tables, Rachel and Leah), the American frontier fantasy series Th

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Pastwatch (3 books)
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