Calling any history buffs who like book deconstructions…

Or anyone who likes book deconstructions, for that matter, but I’d love to find at least someone who wants to read a book description who also knows a lot about world history. World history from the fifteenth century on with a focus on the Americas, to be specific. This is not for anything I’m doing, but for the latest book deconstruction project over on The Slacktiverse, which is going to be Orson Scott Card’s Pastwatch: The Redemption Of Christopher Columbus. (I did choose the book, but the deconstruction will be done by the blogger there, SilverAdept.)

Without going into too much detail, Pastwatch is about Christopher Columbus and about counterfactual history and possible changes to history. SilverAdept does brilliant reviews and I’m really looking forward to seeing what they (1) and the commenters over there have to say about this one, but my happiness with the subject will be complete if we turn out to have anyone there who knows enough about history to be able to point out any places where the plot wouldn’t work, or where it could have/should have been done differently. I figured it couldn’t hurt to put out a call on here. Even if that isn’t you, I heartily recommend the blog for anyone who likes reading book deconstructions (the sort of detailed review I do, pointing out the problems but also discussing what works well); SilverAdept does an awesome job over there, and the blog deserves a larger commentariat than it currently seems to have. Posts go up every Thursday. Come along, read, and have your say!


(1) Might have initially misgendered; my apologies. Just saw that in the post that’s currently the most recent, SilverAdept refers to themself as ‘they’. I’ll go with that unless I hear otherwise.


  1. StevoR says

    Awesome. I’m here for it. Wouldn’t call myself an expert but I’m certainly interested in and know a few things about history here.

    I also think I vaguely recall reading that book many years ago. Was once a big fan of Orson Scott Card & his novels before,well,. (Blushes.)

  2. KG says

    Hi Dr. Sarah. I’ve added a comment to the Slactiverse thread – appearing, oddly, under the name absentMINDEDanteater, which was my WordPress password (now changed)! I’ve sent a follow-up, trying to change my nym there to KG, as here, which is in moderation. I’m not a historian, but have been a “history buff” most of my life, with the emphasis on so-called “Big History” – big in spatial andor temporal scale. My comment tries to correct the common mistaken impression that European slavers in Africa relied on military force to acquire slaves – they traded for them, offering guns among other goods (by the end of the 1700s, it’s estimated that 300,000-400,000 guns per year were being exported from Europe to West Africa), thus hugely increasing the scale of both war and enslavement in West Africa.

    Once I’ve got a stable identity at the Slacktiverse, I’ll be arguing that changing Columbus morally, or for that matter sinking his ships or strangling him in his cradle, would have made very little difference either to when Europeans discovered the Americas, to how they behaved once they did, or to the Transatlantic slave trade.

  3. Dr Sarah says

    @Jörg, #1: Thanks! I don’t seem to have any problems with using the original link, so I’m not sure why that’s happening, but I appreciate the update and have changed it.

    @StevoR, #2: Awesome! I would love to see you over there as part of the discussion. Yeah… I really like a lot of OSC’s stuff as well, but there are indeed many problems with both what he writes and with what he says publicly outside of his books.

    @KG, #3: Thanks so much, I saw you’d posted! (I have been following the comments on the Slacktiverse post even though I haven’t yet had a chance to comment there again since Thursday.) I’m thrilled to know you’ll be around joining in. As Steve Morrison has commented in the thread, the eventual intervention is a lot more detailed than just stranding Columbus or even than changing him morally. I’m going to love reading what you think of it.

    Sorry, I am possibly a tad overexcited about all this but I love these reviews and I think this really is going to be an interesting one to review (hops up and down squeeing to self).

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