REVIEW: A New Birth of Freedom: The Visitor | Robert G. Pielke | Altered Dimensions

Title: A New Birth of Freedom: The Visitor
Author: Robert G. Pielke
Publisher: Altered Dimensions, 2010
ISBN: 978-1-936021-23-9
Format: eBook
Length: 225 pages
Genre: Science Fiction (Time Travel)

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Warning: this review contains spoilers.

Young Abe Lincoln is on a train, headed home to lick his wounds after two dismal years in Washington. A strangely dressed, enigmatic co-traveler asks him for a seemingly harmless favour and gives Lincoln a much needed $100 as a retainer. Fourteen years later the same man comes to the White House to claim his promised appointment with the now President of the United States, who is embroiled in the American Civil War.

Following a bizarre meeting with Lincoln and his “cabinet,” where the stranger, Edwin Blair, reveals he’s a visitor from the future (Born in Baltimore July 4, 2163 A.D.), that a war with an alien race has resulted in the loss of 90% of the world’s future human population, and that due to a complicated mistake, two alien craft full of these hostile aliens will land at Gettysburg at a specific time on July 3, 1864, Lincoln agrees to call a truce during the expected arrival time of the aliens.

Little does Lincoln know that Blair has set up the same kind of agreement with Robert E. Lee, leader of the Secessionists. Then, after much talk and convincing at Gettysburg, not only does Blair get his truce, but both the North and South agree to target all armaments at two specific spots on what would have been the battlefield of Gettysburg. Unfortunately, as convincing as Blair has been, his story of ten foot tall locust-like aliens with weapons capable of destroying both armed forces is just something people from this time will have to see before they believe.

To their credit, once the ships arrive, the Americans respond quickly. A ferocious battle ensues as the humans attempt to damage two time/space ships and kill the one thousand “pests” on board. When all is said and done, the ships are damaged and virtually every pest is dead. But a small number have escaped, and 15 pests have been captured alive. Blair is understandably upset: he knows that even one of these things, when armed, could spell disaster for humankind. His mission is a failure.

But... It isn’t. No further attacks happen. Even more shocking, the previously uncommunicative aliens begin talking in Indian sign language, of all things. Blair is completely confused: in his time the aliens ignored every opportunity to communicate and killed anyone who interfered with them.

Now, as Lincoln and Lee settle their differences, orders are made to treat the creatures with respect and to continue trying to communicate. Blair knows he must stop this: the pests have to be eliminated—every last one. Think of it: his actions have already changed the future. Gettysburg hasn’t happened. The aliens still live. And Blair is forgetting things he once knew (like the fact he had a daughter). Anyone would be panicked in such a situation. What does his time look like now? Has he succeeded in bringing mankind back from the brink of extinction?

I’m sorry to tell you Robert G. Pielke is going to make the reader wait until the second or possibly the third installment of the series before answering these questions. So, if you can’t stand an ending with a very sharp hook, you had best be prepared to buy all three books in Pielke’s series.

Yet, buying the three books may not be a bad thing... A quick pace, handfuls of suspense, a real grasp of that time we all know as The Civil War, combined with solid writing skills, makes A New Birth Of Freedom a most interesting read. In fact, even though my review contains spoilers, I’m betting readers will still find much to enjoy in this time-travel gem.

Copyright © Clayton Clifford Bye 2010

September 2010
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