Pastwatch: the Redemption of Christopher Columbus by Orson Scott Card. ISBN: 0-812-50864-5
I remember being transfixed by Ender's Game, and I've enjoyed some of his short fiction, so I picked up this one on vacation. The premise is that the earth is a utopia, with tons of electrical energy to spare, so they set up these research station with devices that can see into the past and start to look at history.
Warning: Spoilers follow. Not that it matters.
Unfortunately, Card comes out of left field with major plot changes. In the middle of the book, when the major characters are arguing over whether or not to meddle in history and erase the time line they exist in, someone suddenly reveals that "All that stuff about utopia? All lies. The human race is dying off, we've used up all our resources, and the future is grim enough that everyone's willing to trade their lives for a universe they'll never experience."
No explanation for the carefree life people have been living thus far.
He then tries to convince us that if only Columbus had believed in true Christianity and approached the natives peacefully and as equals the whole massacre of the American natives wouldn't occur. Excuse me? Discounting the Portugese (which he does moderately well), what about the English incursions into the northern realms and subsequent violence? The French?
I didn't buy it, found it emotionally unsettling and undermotivated.
Friday, October 16th, 1998 email@example.com