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Cover image for The watch : being the unauthorized sequel to Peter A. Kropotkin's Memoirs of a revolutionist as imparted to Dennis Danvers by Anchee Mahur, traveler from a distant future, or, A science fiction novel.
The watch : being the unauthorized sequel to Peter A. Kropotkin's Memoirs of a revolutionist as imparted to Dennis Danvers by Anchee Mahur, traveler from a distant future, or, A science fiction novel.
Other title(s):
Watch--being the unauthorized sequel to Peter A. Kropotkin's Memoirs of a revolutionist--as imparted to Dennis Danvers by Archee Mahur, traveler from a distant future

Science fiction novel
1st ed.
Publication Information:
New York : Eos, ©2002.
Physical Description:
356 pages ; 25 cm
Peter Alexeivich Kropotkin, a Russian prince who became an anarchist, is given the chance to be reborn in 1999 Richmond, Virginia by a mysterious being from the distant future.


Call Number

On Order



In 1921 Russia, a mysterious visitor from the far a future comes to Peter Alexeivich Kropotkin's deathbed and offers the world-renowned activist/philosopher a new life. The being who calls himself Anchee Mahur has the power to tamper with history. Kropotkin -- the one-time prince who renounced wealth and privilege to embrace the cause of anarchy, the dying humanist who long suffered the torments of prison and official scorn -- can be reborn, if he so chooses. And he does. Suddenly the year is 1999, the dawning of a new century, and Peter Kropotkin is in an airplane en route to Richmond, Virginia. Alone in a Southern city that still clings passionately to its Confederate past -- with no money, shelter, or plans of any kind, and in a body four decades younger than it was at his "death" -- Kropotkin must now build a second life from scratch. Love may be possible here, with the beautiful, caring social worker Rachel Pederson, perhaps. But first he must come to terms with undreamed-of technologies and strange urban cultures in a future where little of substance has changed. Because the injustices Kropotkin dedicated his first life to combating have become more insidiously woven into the fabric of everyday existence. Meanwhile the hand of his inscrutable "benefactor" Anchee is everywhere -- manipulating realities for some shadowy, unspoken purpose; covertly driving ordinary events toward explosive confrontations; exploiting people and their foibles while treating all life and time as Experimental Art. And there is the unexpected tragedy of the "accidentals," unwitting time-travelers from other eras who have been carried forward in Kropotkin's wake, and for whom the anarchist-out-of-time now feels responsible. Slowly, the darker edges of a miracle are coming into focus. For Kropotkin, there is no escape in the future from the past, and a stiff price to be paid for second chances. There is more than one reality here -- and more than one story behind a great man's pursuit of a catastrophic prearranged destiny. But it will take uncommon strength and courage and will to remain sane and uncorrupted in a not-so-brave new world that suddenly threatens to devour Peter Kropotkin whole. In a masterful novel of truly audacious conception, Dennis Danvers once again proves himself an author of rare conscience and daring, as well as one of the most skilled literary artists working today in the realm of speculation. Alternately poignant, funny, provocative, enraging, and inspiring, The Watch is an extraordinary feat of the imagination; a story that unabashedly celebrates commitment, love, and the indomitable spirit of humanity.

Reviews 5

School Library Journal Review

Adult/High School-This is a novel of ideas, but it is also one of great heart and fabulous personality. As the elderly philosopher Peter Kropotkin lies dying in 1921 Russia, Anchee Mahur, a visitor from the far future, offers to bring him back to life-restored to health, in a future time and place. Peter's curiosity gets the better of him and he soon finds himself in 1999, in Richmond, VA. He is on his own, starting a new life in what, to him, might as well be an alien planet, with no capital but his intellect and a lifetime's wisdom. As the time traveler shares his story, an original and sometimes startling vision of our times emerges through his eyes; to one who lived under czars, this is a world both fantastic in its technology yet all too familiar in its ethics. Peter is part innocent, part sage, wholly charming, and extremely funny. A gregarious fellow, he feels right at home with a diverse population and relates winningly to everyone. He finds romance. He falls in with a group of creative young musicians, artists, and activists who are sure to delight teen readers. And he discovers two more time travelers: a slave and an abolitionist from Richmond's past. Peter's presence has a catalytic effect on a city that still romanticizes its Confederate history, and a new revolution brings a reckoning with the truth of its past. Read as a thoughtful meditation, or simply as a delightful yarn, this is a story and a hero that should find an enthusiastic audience.-Christine C. Menefee, Fairfax County Public Library, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publisher's Weekly Review

A philosophical inquiry with a basic moral point, this literate time-travel tale also thoroughly entertains. In 1921, the ailing, 78-year-old Russian anarchist Peter Kropotkin is visited by an "angel," Anchee Mahur, who offers him a mysterious choice. He can either die or resume life as a young man, but in 1999, in Richmond, Va., Kropotkin agrees to a new life, but never loses his distrust of Anchee, a being from a future so far ahead that Anchee claims he could never adapt to it. One has less a sense of reading a story than of following the provocative thinking of the novel's displaced hero and narrator. The quotations that head each chapter from the real-life Kropotkin and such writers as Dickens and Coleridge, as well as Civil War generals and politicians lend insights into slavery, the Civil War and race in America. As Kropotkin copes with, and improves on, the world immediately around him, he tries to understand his purpose. Seemingly chance meetings give him a girlfriend, a job, friends, a place to live and contact with others from the past. Earl, a reclusive doctor and former resident of the Civil War-era prison on Belle Isle, provides more history lessons. As the anarchist becomes more aware of Anchee's manipulations, he finds himself once again with a terrible choice. Does he go along with Anchee's plan or suffer the consequences if he does not? Can he trade personal comfort for humanity's potential slavery? Danvers (End of Days) succeeds in making the reader really care about the answers. (Jan. 2) Forecast: Reminiscent of classic SF tales of the '40s and '50s, such as Asimov's Foundation series, this compelling novel may well become a minor classic in the field. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Kirkus Review

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.

Booklist Review

On his deathbed, the revolutionary Russian prince Peter Kropotkin receives a remarkable offer from a man who claims to come from the distant future. He will give Peter back his youth and health and deposit him in America in 1999. Peter accepts--and finds himself on a plane to Richmond, Virginia, with a time machine disguised as a cheap watch on his wrist. He adapts slowly, sleeping in a park and working as a dishwasher. He explores friendship with three young men (a rock band) who offer him a ride, and the more captivating charms of a young woman who runs a refugee aid service. He also befriends and suffers for a homeless man, seemingly another transfer from a different time, who didn't make the transition as painlessly. Peter comes to suspect that his mysterious benefactor is guiding events to a particular end, and that he is only a knowing but helpless pawn in a scheme. Well, not entirely helpless, what with his new friends, instinct for revolution, and powerful device for evading police and other authorities. Attracting extensive media coverage, an astonishing social event starts unfolding, with the anarchist prince at its epicenter. In a wonderful time travel yarn, Danvers again demonstrates the insight into politics and the human heart that distinguished The Fourth World (2000). Roberta Johnson

Library Journal Review

Russian anarchist Peter Alexeivich Kropotkin receives a visitor from the future, who provides him with the opportunity to be reborn in America in 1999. In his new life, Kropotkin finds the late 20th century a strange and marvelous place and one in which he becomes the focal point of a group of refugees from many times and places, all yearning for revolution. Danvers (Circuit of Heaven) crafts a parable about freedom and rebellion while telling a poignant story of a man caught between his ideals and his desires. A good choice for sf collections. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.