THE WATCH by Dennis Danvers


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More political science fiction from the author of the splendid The Fourth World (2000), etc. Anchee Mahur, a mysterious individual from the remote future, materializes in Russia in 1921 at the deathbed of Peter Kropotkin. Anchee offers Peter, an anarchist (he's a philosopher, not a bomb-thrower) and would-be revolutionary, the opportunity for a second life in a new body. Peter cannot refuse, and soon finds himself in 1999, in Richmond, Virginia; his sole link with his former life is his father's old pocketwatch. Through a series of seemingly chance encounters, polyglot and polymath Peter finds a place to live in a friendly, politically active commune. He finds a job washing dishes, falls in love with Rachel Pederson, who assists refugees and immigrants, and encounters not only Earl, an antislavery doctor from 1864, but Jonah, a slave involved in the rebellion of 1800. Peter loses no time in organizing a movement to hand out surplus food to homeless and hungry folk; and by his own shining example he fosters the spread of genuine community values—a particular irony in a city that still worships the Confederacy and its icons. Jonah turns out to be a mechanical genius and discovers that Peter's watch can reverse time itself. Obviously, Anchee has his own agenda, manipulating Peter into creating the future that Anchee desires. Peter's dilemma: accept Anchee’s meddling and enjoy the desirable outcome, or reject him because revolution must build from a genuine groundswell, and face the consequences.

Clearly, subtly, agreeably articulated, Danvers spins a grand yarn, though his message will stick in not a few reactionary craws.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-380-97762-1
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: Eos/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 2001


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