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I have been an avid reader from as early as I can remember. Since becoming a Christian in my early 20s, my passion for reading led to specifically Christian fiction and this has developed into reviewing them on this blog. I love reading new author's novels or author's who have not had many reviews or exposure and giving them much needed encouragement where appropriate.   
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Saturday, 22 October 2016

The Visitor by J.L. Pattison

The Visitor

A stranger in a cornfield, a letter detailing horrific future events, and a chance to change the fate of a nation slipping into turmoil.

Theodore Garfield never believed the old farmer’s story about the day the stranger appeared in his cornfield. And Theodore was even more skeptical about the letter the visitor left behind detailing the gradual downfall of America beginning with the assassination of a future president named John F. Kennedy.

Years later the farmer’s story is all but forgotten until a young senator named John F. Kennedy is elected president. With the farmer and the letter.


The Guru's Review:

I love time travel novels. It was this that attracted me to this short story. The plot was also another factor, of course. Usually a time travel novel has its plot designed to alter history and its events. Such is the case with The Visitor. The author has a fascination with the assassination of President John F Kennedy and this is very nicely portrayed through the main character and the plot. It draws you in and you find yourself accepting the challenge of preventing JFK's assassination just as the main character has.

This is a great example of what makes fiction speculative: the what if of the story; what if I could alter history? Would I do it? In this short story, Pattison portrays this very well and it is a compelling read. Apart from his fascination with the assassination of JFK being one motive for making this short story speculative, Pattison gives evidence of a greater motive. He seems to be concerned with what is developing to American society ripped from today's headlines or implied from those headlines,
(Theodore): “I'm telling you because I don't want to take this to my grave and you're the only person I can trust. I am not sure how much of a difference you can make, but I know you can do more than I can now. I implore you to do whatever you can to prevent Kennedy's assassination because once that happens, everything will change.”
Theodore spoke of a future where their government would engage in surveilling its own citizens— cataloguing their every move, action, and thought— all under the guise of keeping them safe. A future where Americans will not only tolerate the intrusion, but welcome it. Quade rolled his eyes when Theodore muttered something while drifting in and out of consciousness about millions of parents murdering their children in utero. Then Theodore's final sentence arrived. He pieced together a disjointed string of slurred words about internment camps and a great culling of American citizens, then fell silent.
And a few pages later,
...within the next couple generations, Americans will become so distracted by various gratifications that they won't even realize their government revoked most of their liberties. And by the time they recognize what's happening, it will be too late. They'll awaken to discover that they've amused themselves to death.” “There would be resistance.” “There will be no resistance to the boot on their necks. And eventually they will grow to love the boot.” Theodore paused as he struggled to swallow before continuing.
And yet, there seems to be a third motive for Pattison writing this short, that even if we could travel back in time, we would have to deal with the sovereignty of God,
"Let me get this straight,” Theodore said smirking while shooing a persistent fly away from his face. “During the years this letter’s validity could have been proven, it went missing, only to reappear after those events passed?
I'm afraid so. You see, I believe God is sovereign, and if man develops a way to travel through time to change the outcome of certain past events— events that God has ordained to take place— then no matter what we do, we will not be able to change them. This could explain Mr. Blair showing up at the wrong time and place, and how I misplaced the letter for over forty years.
It is these motives that forms the backbone to this short. It adds depth and strength to the plot and its action. It strengthens the characterisation of Quade when he realises (too late) the truth of what Theodore told him and realises that the future of society is not going to be a safe one.

I have read a few time travel novels where the technology of time travel is described in some detail, but due to the shortness of this story, this is absent. Pattison gives very few details of how the Visitor at the beginning of the story arrives in the year 1899. Having now read this short, it is just not necessary to have this technology included. Not only due to the shortness of this story but this absence gives the author more time (and words) to concentrate on the main story line as I have outlined above. I guess this backs up the saying that less is more!

When I read this short, I was hooked on Pattison's writing and imagination. I now follow him on Amazon and Goodreads. I have read his second novel, Alibi Interrupted (also a time travel short concerning JFK's assassination) and this just adds to Pattison's talent as a gifted author and story teller. I am looking forward to him writing his first full length novel.

Thoroughly enjoyed this short while giving me something to think about concerning the future path society seems to be taking when ignoring God's sovereignty and taking matters into their own hands.

Highly Recommended. 5/5

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