A New Birth of Freedom: The Translator
By Robert G. Pielke
Whiskey Creek Press, $18.95, 395 pages
This is definitely the middle volume. A New Birth of Freedom: The Translator cuts right to the chase, throwing Edwin Blair and his headaches right at us. In this alternate timeline, Civil War America has been invaded by the alien Pests, who have their own inscrutable reasons for wanting to talk to Blair. As they become another reason to secede from the United States as well as a weapon against President Lincoln, Blair must figure out what the aliens are telling him and figure out how to save the planet from a future alien invasion.
Although there is a lot to be gained from not having an actual physicist on board to look at the ramifications of time travel, there are a number of problems with this version of time travel, especially as regards the issue of making a major change (eliminating the alien threat) even though major changes tend to erase themselves. However, the way it is presented, from changes in the timeline giving Blair headaches to questioning if Blair has done this before while leaving subtle clues for himself as he goes makes for some very nice details, and alone makes this worth the price to hard core science-fiction fans.
The characters really sell it. Although famous names are thrown about, in this book it makes sense; even Wilkes Booth gets a deserved cameo. The plot keeps moving on, and feels like the characters are forcing it rather than the plot forcing the character, adding to the mystery of what is going on. Even Blair learning something about the equality is a nice touch. Interestingly enough, although the clipped ends signify that it is the middle book of a series, this book can be read on its own. Nonetheless, this book does whet the appetite for the next book, and is one that time-travel aficionados and historical fiction fans alike will enjoy.