Pastwatch - The Redemtion of Christopher Columbus by Orson Scott Card

Pastwatch - The Redemtion of Christopher Columbus by Orson Scott Card

Author:Orson Scott Card [Card, Orson Scott]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Tags: Science Fiction, Time travel, Fiction, General, America, Alternative histories, Columbus; Christopher
ISBN: 9780812508642
Publisher: Tor Science Fiction
Published: 1997-01-06T05:00:00+00:00

Chapter 8 -- Dark Futures

Father Talavera had listened to all the eloquent, methodical, sometimes impassioned arguments, but he had known from the start that he had to make the final decision about Col˘n by himself. How many years had they listened to Col˘n -- and harangued him, too -- so that all were weary of the same conversations endlessly repeated? For so many years, since the Queen first asked him to lead the examination of Col˘n's claims, nothing had changed. Maldonado still seemed to regard Col˘n's very existence as an affront, while Deza seemed almost infatuated with the Genovese. The others still lined up behind one or the other, or, like Talavera himself, remained neutral. Or rather, they seemed neutral. They merely wavered like grass, dancing in whatever wind was blowing. How many times had each one come to him privately and spent long minutes -- sometimes hours -- explaining their views, which always amounted to the same thing: They agreed with everybody.

I alone am truly neutral, thought Talavera. I alone am swayed by no argument whatsoever. I alone can listen to Maldonado bring forth sentences from ancient, long-forgotten writings in languages so obscure that quite possibly no one ever spoke them except the original writer himself -- I alone can listen to him and hear only the voice of a man who is determined not to allow the slightest new i.e. to disrupt his own perfect understanding of the world. I alone can listen to Deza eloquizing about Col˘n's brilliance in finding truths so long overlooked by scholars and hear only the voice of a man who yearned to be a knight-errant from the romances, championing a cause which is noble only because he champions it.

I alone am neutral, thought Talavera, because I alone understand the utter stupidity of the entire conversation. Which of these ancients they all quote with such certainty was lifted by the hand of God to see the Earth from an appropriate vantage point? Which of them was given calipers by the hand of God to make an accurate measurement of the diameter of the Earth? No one knew anything. The only serious attempt at measurement, more than a thousand years before, could have been disastrously flawed by the tiniest inconsistency in the original observations. All the argument in the world could not change the fact that if you build the foundation of your logic upon guesswork, then your conclusions will be guesswork also.

Of course Talavera could never say this to anyone else. He had not risen to his position of trust by freely expressing his skepticism about the wisdom of the ancients. On the contrary: All who knew him were sure that he was utterly orthodox. He had labored hard to make sure they had that opinion of him. And in a sense they were right. He simply defined orthodoxy quite differently from them.

Talavera did not put his faith in Aristotle or Ptolemy. He already knew what the examination of Col˘n was demonstrating in


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