I was approach by J.L. Pattison, who asked me to review his story. Now, I wanted to read it since I’ve read Jenaca’s review on her blog (linked in her name).
From what I understood, this is Pattison’s first published short story. He is also a fellow blogger, and if you’re curious you can check out his blog here.
Genre: Short-story, Historical fiction, time-travel
On a rural Georgia farm in 1899, a lazy summer afternoon is interrupted by the arrival of a man claiming to be from the future. The stranger intended to provide the nation’s forefathers with a letter detailing future events that lead to the demise of America in the 21st Century, but ending up in the wrong place at the wrong time, he has no choice but to leave the letter with the farmer.
Although no one ever believed the farmer’s story about the visitor, he’s afforded one last opportunity to recount the event with Theodore Garfield, a reporter for a local newspaper. But like everyone else, Theodore rejects the farmer’s story and dismisses the letter’s ominous warnings, including the prediction that America’s gradual collapse will begin with the murder of a future American president named John F. Kennedy.
Years later, Theodore’s encounter with the farmer is all but forgotten until a young senator named Kennedy is elected president. With the old farmer and his letter now long gone, will Theodore Garfield be able to prevent one of the most tragic days in American history?
The Visitor is part science fiction and part history. It’s part time travel and part mystery. With a tablespoon of politics, a pinch of dystopia, and a dash of conspiracy, this tale will take you on an entertaining ride with an ending you won’t expect.
I’ve read novels that had time travel as theme or sub-plot (e.g. HP, Devil’s Roses). Usually, in fantasy the protagonist goes back in time to save a person they love, to change an event that will affect them in the future, or by accident. In other words, most often than not, the protagonist goes back in time for his/hers own gain.
In The Visitor, one of the characters goes back in time to save United States as a country, and humankind. Mr. Blair -the time traveler- wanted to go back to the 18th century, and warn America’s Founding Fathers about the country’s future. He hoped that they could’ve prevented certain future events, and change the history’s course for the better. Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen.
The time in this story is not linear. It jumps from chapter to chapter, and I find it to be quite effective. I didn’t spend time reading on on about each period of time; each chapter gets straight to the point.
This story has four main characters: Mr.Blair, Leroy, Theodore, and Quade. Each of this characters represent a time period, if you will: Mr.Blair – the future, Leroy – the end of 19th century, Theodore – the end of 1960s, and Quade – the beginning of 1960s.
The trouble is, besides Leroy, nobody wants to believe that such events will take place in their country. They can’t believe that humans are capable of such things. In a way, they are represented by Theodore and Quade. Both of them didn’t want to believe Leroy and Mr.Blair until it was too late.
The ending was both unexpected and expected. Initially I thought that somehow, one of the characters will do something to prevent the assassination of a certain president. However, after I read that people didn’t want to believe, the ending didn’t surprise me. I’m not saying this as a critique, rather it would’ve been less believable if people would’ve start believing Mr.Blair’s letter.
This story left me with so many questions, and theories. Not about the plot or the characters, but about humans and their choice of not seeing what’s right in front of their eyes. It is easier to think that things are good and nice, that all politicians will not fight against their own citizens, and so on. Why would you believe that what happened in USSR cannot happen in the West? Communism is just one for of Marxism, not the only one. How many people know that the communist experiment was meant for Western Europe, not Eastern? And so on.
Overall, I loved this short story. I am looking forward to read other stories written by Mr.Pattison.
(P.S. What do you mean he was assassinated due to an inside job? I’ve read and listen to many theories, but not many can say exactly who orchestrated this.)
[ If you’re curious or interested in the history of communism, I recommend to watch The Soviet Story and other documentaries. ]