Doctor Who meets Glory in this smart sci-fi adventure.
Pielke (A New Birth of Freedom: The Visitor, 2010) drops readers straight into the action in this second installment of his alien invasion/time travel/alternate history series. Edwin Blair is a time traveler from the late 21st century who goes back in time to the Civil War to stem an invasion by the Pests, buglike aliens who have set up camp in the middle of a Gettysburg, Pa., battlefield. Blair and his companions—including such real-life historical figures as President Abraham Lincoln and General Robert E. Lee—assist Blair as he struggles to communicate with the aliens and complete his mission. Pielke richly details the unique difficulties of time travel; throughout the novel, Blair walks a fine line trying to accomplish his goals without rewriting history. Although the plot may seem a bit ridiculous at first, the author makes it work by earnestly grappling with questions of history and by depicting the rich inner lives of his characters. The author also tackles serious themes, as when he explores the parallels between the rights of the Pests and the rights of African-Americans during the Civil War. The book also explores ideas about education, communication and technology. Even when the plot feels a bit ponderous at times, the author never takes the easy way out of plot difficulties. Although readers unfamiliar with the first book in the series may find themselves a bit confused at times, they will still find plenty to enjoy. The novel’s cliffhanger ending is sure to make readers eager for the next installment.
A thoughtful, thorough and novel take on time-travel tropes.