A New Birth of Freedom: The Visitor
Pielke draws in the reader with an intriguing opening section—in which a mysterious figure seeks out Abraham Lincoln in 1849 with a very unusual request—before this historical sci-fi novel goes off the rails. Edwin Blair encounters the future president on a train and pays him $100 to agree to meet with him again in 14 years. In need of cash, Lincoln agrees, and in 1863, while in the White House dealing with the Civil War, Lincoln grants Blair an audience at a turning point in the conflict. Blair reveals himself as a visitor from the distant future, 2163, who needs the help of both the Union and Confederacy to save Earth from alien invaders known as the Pests. While the story will continue in at least one additional volume, Blair's indifference to how his intervention in a seminal event in U.S. history would change the future evidences a failure of imagination that will disappoint sci-fi fans. Civil War buffs will find better fictional depictions of the major figures elsewhere.