5 stars - Fascinating
This is a fascinating story! Having read a fair amount about the battle of Gettysburg, it was intriguing to read an alternative version of the events leading up to it and on the battlefield itself. The story is well written, hooks your interest and keeps it.
- S. Richardson, November 28, 2010
5 stars - The eternal paradox of time travel!
Is it possible to change the past without altering or de-constructing the present and its relevant future beyond recognition?
Despite almost certain failure, Edwin Blair, an academic from the 22nd century studying 19th century American history, has been assigned the task of visiting the USA, war torn and haemorrhaging from the self-inflicted wounds it is suffering in the bloodiest conflict in its history, the American Civil War. A cataclysmic battle in earth's distant future with a space-faring civilization, from which humanity escaped alive by the narrowest of margins, has left behind the intelligence that the invaders will return to earth. They will be landing in the middle of the Battle of Gettysburg, the bloodiest conflict of the Civil War, on the morning of July 3, 1863. Against all odds, with the help of a skeptical President Lincoln, Blair must persuade the commander of the Union's forces, General Meade, and his confederate opponent, General Robert E Lee, to cease hostilities to deal with invaders from another planet - a threat that they could not even begin to conceptualize let alone combat.
A NEW BIRTH OF FREEDOM is a provocative blend of genres - speculative fiction, sci-fi and alternate history - that brilliantly uses the irony of slavery and prejudice in early America as a springboard to deal with considerably less obvious sociological issues that Pielke is convinced mankind will ultimately face - alien first contact and communication. Convinced that Noam Chomsky is mistaken when he suggests that we will be unable to communicate with entirely alien species and refusing to accept Stephen Hawking's much-publicized fears about the dire results of alien knowledge of our existence in the cosmos, Pielke addresses the ultimate question of how we will deal with the extension to an alien species of what we consider to be inalienable rights appropriate for humans and humanity.
Pielke's writing style is exceptionally warm, pastoral and easy-going yet utterly absorbing and fascinating. A wealth of period detail immerses the reader in the minutiae of life during a turbulent 19th century America, a time when it was questionable whether the word "United" would ever be attached to the word "States". Long time fans of classic sci-fi will joyfully reminisce about their favourite stories from the likes of HG Wells, Clifford D Simak or Isaac Asimov and sigh with gratitude at the realization that these writing giants' ability to combine unforgettable story-telling with thought-provoking social commentary is being brought to life again in Pielke's debut novel.
Reading A NEW BIRTH OF FREEDOM was much more than merely exciting. It was a rare privilege and I look forward with bated breath to the continuation of a planned trilogy. Highly recommended.
- Paul Weiss, August 17, 2010
5 stars - A Mind-Bending Tale of Speculative Historical Fiction
A curious-looking stranger with a shiny, metallic case steps onto a train carting Congressman Abraham Lincoln home after a two-year stint in the nation's legislative body. The most unusual thing about him? His strange footwear, sporting the word "Nike"" on the side...fast forward 14 years, and the same stranger shows up in now-President Lincoln's Oval Office. Even stranger now? He's wearing the same clothes, carrying the same case, and apparently hasn't aged a single day...perhaps the strangest of all, though, is the three-dimensional image that he magically projects onto the wall of the office, followed by a tale of time-traveling aliens soon to arrive in Gettysburg that coming July...
Decidedly mind-bending, A New Birth Of Freedom: The Visitor is an intriguing work of speculative fiction. Steeped in rich historical accuracy, author Robert Pielke's compelling tale is an eye-opening treatise on the ramifications of cause and consequence. Set against the backdrop of one of the most transformative periods in our nation's history, The Visitor takes quite the creative approach in inviting readers to consider the breadth of our collective humanity and personal value systems. With a well-balanced mix of sci-fi, adventure, and philosophy, The Visitor both enlightens and entertains as it invokes the reader to open his/her mind to the universal implications of what may often appear to be remote, isolated actions.
The salient debut in an imaginative new sci-fi series, A New Birth Of Freedom: The Visitor is an impressive nod to the likes of Herbert, Wells, and other titans of speculative fiction. Be on the lookout for more from this highly talented literary star on the rise.
- Chelsea Perry, Apex Reviews, July 3, 2010
5 stars - Pacific Book Review
To have met Abraham Lincoln would have been, no doubt, a memorable experience for anyone. But if someone was to say to you, "I'll be meeting Lincoln in 14 years from now," it would be absurd, right? What if that person convinces you of the meeting, scheduled in the future yet involving a person of the past, is a reality and every word true? You would come to the conclusion the person must possess some form of time traveling capability. Hence "time traveling" becomes your conclusion, your belief, and of your own free will in choosing this only possible logical explanation. (That person never said he is a time traveler, did he?) This is the skillful bases of an unforgettable story, "A New Birth of Freedom: The Visitor," by the exquisitely talented author Robert G. Pielke.
Dr. Pielke loves history as revealed by his credentials studying the past. Furthermore, residing in the heart of Civil War battlegrounds, he accumulated a wealth of minutia about the history of the Union and Confederacy. His "Systematic" studies in Christianity can be superimposed onto other systems, such as war, plus his Ph.D. in Social Ethics states volumes of his understanding of people's values and behavior. Add his love of science fiction, and you have a brilliant, out-of-the-box thinker, an author of immense capability to write penetrating thoughts, original and novel by all accounts.
The story begins with a train ride, when a passenger engages a conversation with a back-woods country lawyer, a politician a bit in debt, a humble man with a mind sharp and discerning. The man is Abe Lincoln. I have found this "lead" as one of the finest works of literary foreshadowing into a storyline of a creative journey of epic proportions. His writing is a flavorful mix of Rod Serling with Frank Herbert, a bit of H. G. Wells and a touch of Gene Roddenberry, plus some Carl Sagan, yet all uniquely Robert G. Pielke. The Visitor creates a showcase in which Pielke ostentatiously demonstrates his knowledge of the events and history circa 1863 and creates a "period piece of many eras" all at once. Meaning the past, the present and the future; combining the "three time frames'" into what can be described as a "Present situation of past events that occur in the future."
All of this food for thought is topped with "Save the Earth" desperation - and I don't mean anything Al Gore might preach to audiences, but wish to avoid telling in this review as not to distract from the surprise foundation of the multi-dimensional sub-plot. A book for historians, sci-fi enthusiasts, adventure story fans and people of all ages, "A New Birth of Freedom: The Visitor" will resonate in your thoughts long after the book is finished and you think to yourself, "Wow."
- Gary Sorkin, Pacific Book Review, June 22, 2010
5 stars - Science Fiction Reviews (collected from readers in various locations)
I just finished The Visitor and basically have only one question: When will Book Two be available? Once I had the time to sit and read without interruption I became hooked. What a damn good story! Well done! Please be sure to put me on the short list for The Translator when it becomes available. I can hardly wait to see what kinds of paradoxes you have in store for us...[spoilers deleted]. Keep up the good work and make sure you get all three books published in our lifetimes! I would hate to go to my grave not knowing "the rest of the story".
- Bill O. (Forest Hill, MD)
I just finished reading your book. It was fantastic. I couldn't turn the pages fast enough. I read it in one sitting. Too bad that most people who do read it will not be aware of the historical authenticity of much of the story or will appreciate the time and effort you went to "to get it right." With a few breaks and the right publicity it definitely has the potential to be a best seller. And I loved how you teased us at the end. Just want to be sure I have the Special Relativity and General Relativity thing right. With special relativity the faster you go the slower your time goes; with general relativity, the stronger the force, the slower the time. Is that right? Congratulations again on a riveting work you should be very proud of. Better get working on the sequel--people will be clamoring for it. By the way, is it just me or does the profile of Edwin Blair look a tad like yours truly?
- Ron R (Baltimore)
Wow!! What an interesting read! Once I started the book I couldn't put it down. You really captured the essence of all the personalities from that time period, and then how you integrated them into time travel and ET's was brilliant! Now I am conjuring up all kinds of possibilities as to what's going to happen [XX spoiler omissionXX]. This will make me crazy until your next book comes out. Loved the book and biting at the bit for the next one.
- Bonnie Z (Gettysburg)
I have to admit that I'm not a sci-fi reader, I love historical subjects. Your book caught me off guard. It was very intriguing and the mystery and excitement built right up to the last page. I finished it off in one sitting and was immensely pleased with the outcome. I will be anxiously awaiting the next installment. Your mixing of the Gettysburg campaign with the visitor was masterful. The facts seem to be all correct. You did mention to me that you spent quite some time researching the historical content. As a final note, I think you caught the leading character's persona right on. Thanks again for the exciting read.
- Bill Z (Gettysburg)
5 stars - Gettysburg Revisited
What a great read. Pielke has playfully blended painstakingly authentic civil war history with a gripping science fiction scenario to create a riveting alternative vision of what really happened at the Battle of Gettysburg. Robert E.Lee and Abraham Lincoln must contend, not only with each other, but with the mind stretching phenomenon of Time Travel and Alien Beings on the field of battle. Pielke pushes the pace by relentlessly increasing the tension with every turn of the page. I read it in one sitting. Think James Patterson or Michael Connelly on science fiction steroids. Beware: the ending is a real jaw-dropper. Read and enjoy.
- Ronald Ridgley, May 21, 2010