Thursday, February 28, 2013
Two years ago this month in February 2011, I reviewed the first in a trilogy of science-fiction books featuring Abraham Lincoln and other icons from that era in history. The trilogy titled A New Birth Of Freedom is the story of a time traveler who has come from the very distant future to seek the help of Lincoln, the Union, and even the Confederacy against alien invaders who threaten to annihilate our planet. The first book, "The Visitor," is the story of Mr. Edwin Blair, who returns to introduce himself to Abraham Lincoln in the year 1849, hands Lincoln a letter, and asks him to keep it until 1863 at which time the visitor (Mr. Blair) will return to tell Lincoln in detail what he is asking of him. That book was hard for me to put down and I eagerly waited for the second in the trilogy.
After a two year wait, the second book has arrived. "The Translator" picks up where the first left off. The Battle of Gettysburg has ended prematurely as the Union and rebel forces had combined to help combat the invaders. Some of the invaders had been captured, which raised huge ethical concerns about the treatment of prisoners of war, especially if those prisoners are bent on destroying your planet. By the end of that first volume, a rudimentary way of communicating with the aliens had been discovered, that communication revealing the creatures to be intelligent. In turn, that raised even more ethical and humanitarian concerns.
In "The Translator," the focus shifts from the reasons why Mr. Blair has come from the far future to the young man (and others) who can communicate with the alien prisoners. The aliens tell him they need to communicate with "White Hat" and "Big Mouth," a soldier and a Native American, respectively. No one knows where these two men are, let alone why the creatures need them to be found. Even the aliens themselves aren't entirely sure why.
As in the first book, "The Translator" skillfully blends history, alternate history, and science-fiction into an interesting and fun book, while also raising important questions about how compassionate people must (or should) be toward their enemies. That the author, Robert G. Pielke, holds degrees in ethics, theology, and history, it's understandable why this trilogy asks important questions of the reader.
Overall I enjoyed "The Visitor" more than I did "The Translator." But it's understandable as the first features a battle, the mystery of why Mr. Blair is in Lincoln's time, and the shock of finding out why. "The Translator" just doesn't have the same swift pace and gripping narrative, but it's obviously setting the stage for the concluding volume. It's still well-written, entertaining, and hard to put down.
Yes, the entire premise of A New Birth Of Freedom is ridiculous. But if you like science-fiction in addition to history (you must, or you wouldn't be reading this post), then I'd highly recommend this trilogy.
Both books are published by Tribute Books and may be purchased on Amazon or at Whiskey Creek Press in paperback format. eBook versions are available for Kindle and Nook, as well as through Whiskey Creek Press.
Posted by Geoff Elliott at 4:13 PM