Edwin Blair, a professor of history who specializes in the figures and events of the 1800s, has been taxed with journeying back in time from 2203 to 1863 to stop alien invaders (known as "Pests") from taking over the world. In order to do this, he has to carefully concoct a plan that is believable, alters history as little as possible, and still succeeds in stopping the monstrous, locus-like insects from decimating the world. To add to this difficulty, the country is in the middle of a civil war, and he needs the efforts of both factions to be successful. Armed only with his extensive knowledge of this era, a computer, and an alien device that can do more than he even suspects, Blair is on a journey of a lifetime. If he is unsuccessful, it may be his last journey, and he may never even exist to take it.
A clever mix of genres, this book by Robert G. Pielke combines historical fact with speculative fiction to create an alternate history. In the 2200s, an alien species has invaded the Earth and left nothing but destruction in its path. Even the advanced technology of the future is not enough to successfully battle these creatures. With some ingenuity and a touch of luck, the humans of the era have managed to send the aliens' ships back in time to the battle of Gettysburg, where it is hoped sheer manpower and less advanced technological weapons will be able to do what the future armies cannot- destroy these invaders. The characters in the story are nicely written. Pielke has taken many key historical figures and given them life so we can imagine them off the page. We are privy to many of Blair's private thoughts about his task and what he knows of these historical figures, which adds a nice touch in rounding out the characterization. Even the aliens gain some humanism along the way.
Rich with historical facts, including some little-known gems, this books offers an education along with real entertainment. I thought the intermixing of the two was masterful in concept, but occasionally tedious in practice. Because of the sheer amount of history included in the story, the story dragged at times. I found the storyline quite riveting and I was anxious to discover what would happen, but there seemed to be a little too much talking back and forth, with the same questions being asked time and again of Blair. At one point, I thought the entire story would perhaps take place inside one room, with the characters merely discussing back and forth, but was relieved when we had a scene change. The ending sets the perfect stage for the second installment in the series, and my interest in most certainly piqued.
4 /5 stars
Available at Amazon and Altered Dimensions Press