The FarSeer in History Robert J. Sawyer?s The FarSeer is a story of a young Quintaglio, apprentice to the chief astrologer, named Afsan who, in order to become a respected adult, must undergo a pilgrimage and a hunt. During his pilgrimage on the Dasheter he makes observations of the planets and moons that are contrary to truths he has been taught his entire life. He discovers that the Quintaglios are not living on a planet, but on a moon instead. He also observes that the sun is the center of the universe with the planets revolving around it. His observations threaten to overturn the beliefs that all the Quintaglios hold. Afsan proves that the Face of God is only a planet that their world revolves around. Some Quintaglios believe that Afsan is trying to shun religion and the existence of God, so Afsan is persecuted for trying to reveal the truths he has discovered. Afsan?s story not only makes a great sciencefiction novel, but it also parallels history in many ways. Afsan?s observations and struggles can be compared to those of Copernicus, Galileo, and Columbus. Nicolaus Copernicus, like Afsan, grew up knowing neither his father nor his mother, and astronomy was one of many hobbies. Copernicus is most famous for deriving the first heliocentric theory of the solar system, and his book, On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres, began astronomy as we know it today. Copernicus got his break in astronomy while working under the famous astronomer Domenico Maria Novara da Ferrara, just as Afsan worked under the chief astrologer, TakSaleed. Copernicus?s observations were very similar to those of Afsan. Copernicus observed that planets revolved around the sun, predicted the correct order of the planets, and described how moons revolved around the planets. Afsan did the same; he discovered that the Quintaglio world was a moon revolving around what was previously believed to be the Face of God. Copernicus?s work, like Afsan?s, not only revealed truths about the universe, but affected religion as well. Some thought that Copernicus?s observations proved that science could explain everything that was previously attributed to God. Yet, Copernicus, a Roman Catholic, did not mean for his theories to either prove or refute the existence of God. Copernicus said, ?For I am not so enamored of my own opinions that I disregard what others may think of them. I am aware that a philosopher?s ideas are not subject to the judgment of ordinary persons, because it is his endeavor to seek the truth in all things, to the extent permitted to human reason by God. Yet I hold that completely erroneous views should be shunned.? Likewise, Afsan said, ?I didn?t set out to disprove the existence of God. I was simply looking at things to make sense of what I saw?That proves only that what we call the Face is not really God. There may still be a God.? Galileo Galilei is often called the ?father of modern astronomy,? and is given credit for perfecting the telescope, discovering Jupiter?s moons, and defending the Copernican heliocentric model. Afsan was one of the first to use the farseer to observe the planets and moons, and Galileo was the first to use the telescope to observe the sky. With his telescope Galileo observed that the moons would periodically appear and disappear, leading him to conclude that they orbited a planet. Galileo also realized that the planet Venus went through phases, and Afsan realized that planets, moons, and the Face of God went through phases. Just as Afsan was a faithful Quintaglio, Galileo was a devout Roman Catholic. Still, he was considered a heretic for supporting the theories of Copernicus and ordered to ?neither advocate nor teach? Copernican astronomy as religious doctrine. Nevertheless, Galileo went on supporting Copernicus and was soon condemned before the Holy Office in Rome. He lived out the rest of his life in his villa in Arcetri, publishing his final book before becoming totally blind. Similarly, Afsan?s theories were rejected, he was accused or heresy, and his eyes were gouged out. Galileo believed that one should not automatically accept what the Church or other scientists called truth, just as Afsan rejected the prophet Larsk?s teachings as truth and encouraged others to do the same. Finally, Afsan?s adventures aboard the Dasheter parallel Christopher Columbus?s journeys to the New World. During Columbus?s time, most had accepted the idea that the earth was round, and the Spanish monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabella, wanted to obtain an edge over other European countries in trading with eastern Asia. Columbus promised them that if he was allowed to sail to the East Indies, he would find a shorter trade route. However, the Spanish monarchy would not allow Columbus to set sail because all of the funds were being used to fight a war with the Moors. However, when the Moors were expelled from Spain in 1492, Columbus was immediately given permission to sail to eastern Asia. Columbus?s desires can be compared to those of Afsan. Afsan wanted to sail east to prove the his hypothesis of a round world. The ship captain, VarKeenir, wouldn?t allow it. He was unsure of the accuracy of Afsan?s prediction and set on defeating the sea monster Kaltagoot. Once the monster was defeated and Afsan showed his bravery in helping kill it, Keenir followed Afsan?s suggestions and continued to sail east. The Dasheter reached land and Afsan?s predictions proved true: the world was round. In contrast, Columbus had terribly miscalculated and had found not Asia, but the Americas instead. On the surface The FarSeer just seems like a creative story written by a talented and possibly psychotic man. But besides being a talking dinosaur, Afsan is revealed as a modernday Copernicus, Galileo, and Columbus. Robert J. Sawyer?s novel tells of the evils that have been done to those throughout history that have only tried to reveal the truth. He stumbles upon observations that lead him to realize that everything he has ever known, all the ?truths? he has been taught, are false. He questions the existence of God and considers suicide so that he will not have to endure the taunts of those who will not accept his findings. One hopes that no one will ever have to really deal with persecution like that, but, actually, Afsan?s story is prominent throughout history.
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