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Author Topic: Pastwatch and Virgin Soils Revisited
Member # 8736

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While reviewing an article for my forthcoming exams, I found an interesting citation of Pastwatch. This is one of my favorite of Orson Scott Card's works, and one that does not get as much attention as I believe it deserves. So I was happy to see this citation.

The article is "Virgin Soils Revisited" by David S. Jones. It was published in the 2003 William and Mary Quarterly, one of the premier academic journals for the study of American history. In the article, Jones argues that historians have grossly overstated the "weakness" of Native American populations towards Old World germs. Rather, the devastating losses were caused by a combination of environmental factors, poverty, malnutrition, dislocation, and social disruption.

Towards the end of the article, Jones comments that "Only a time traveler equipped with a supply of vaccines could have altered the demographic outcomes." When I saw this, I thought immediately--hey that is just what happens in Pastwatch! So I checked the endnote, and sure enough he refers directly to it, "This story of science fiction has been told in Orson Scott Card, Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus (New York, 1996)"

So, should I recommend Pastwatch to the professor Im TAing for, who has spent most of the quarter in our World History survey explaining how Mesoamerica was really more advanced then the rest of the world?

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Brian J. Hill
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Yes. You should recommend Pastwatch to everyone.
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Dr Strangelove
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As soon as I get to the bookstore I'm buying Pastwatch for my Sociology professor, who is very interested in anthropology, particularly North American anthropology. And he's into alternate futures. And science-fiction reading in general.
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I'll second that agreement
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