While nothing can displace Ender's Game from being my favorite and best Orson Scott Card novel, I love, love, love Pastwatch. I'm not quite sure how I can convey that. But I'll do my best.
It's set in the future. I would guess several hundred years in the future. Humans on Earth have become technologically advanced, but they're still paying for the mistakes of the past--most notably the environmental mistakes of the past. One of the technologies available is the ability to watch past events fold out before your eyes on the big screen. In the early stages, this technology could only watch vast regions--note climate changes and social changes--the building of communities and sometimes their collapses. But as this technology is developed further, it becomes possible to watch history in greater detail, minute detail. Scientists, historians, researchers (whatever you want to call them) can do studies on communities, societies, or individuals.
What's the point of watching the past? To learn. To understand. To answer impossible questions.
Pastwatch has multiple narrators--each one with a special interest, a special research area, together they are trying to answer some BIG questions.
How is Christopher Columbus involved? Well, he's one of our narrators for one thing. But secondly, he becomes the subject of interest for most of our other narrators. It is HIS life that is being dissected and held up for study. What our researchers learn is that at some point in time, future scientists, interfered or manipulated the past that turned Christopher Columbus' interest to sailing west. Their quest to figure out how and why of this manipulation will lead them on a journey with massive consequences. For they're debating whether or not they should do something along the same lines...
Semi-Apocalyptic fiction. Alternate histories. Time Travel.
Pastwatch is exciting. While the characters are well developed, they aren't as memorable for me as those in the Ender books. But that could be because I've read Ender's Game about a dozen times and Pastwatch only twice. Overall, I say this is a must-read. Those with an interest in history will find it fascinating. As will those with a love for science fiction.
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