Electric Wizard…Mad Scientist…Public Enemy Number One! Nikola Tesla has a unique affinity for electric current…he can visualize the unseen…he speaks with beings of light. In 1899, he receives a message from “Mars”. When he meets the alien visitors, he finds their agenda not what he had expected. And they require his scientific expertise to further their aims. Then things start to go wrong–and “mad scientist” Nikola himself is blamed. He and his brilliant colleague Clara must go on the run from alien captors and human authorities alike. They seek a refuge where they can develop their futuristic defenses against the “Martians”. At the same time, Nikola must learn to tap into the cosmic forces and face his own demons: his phobia of germs, touching and love. Their only allies are the enlightened ones, on Earth and on a far-away world of disembodied energy beings. Eventually Nikola and Clara must return to a devastated New York City, where they will face the alien invaders in the final battle for the fate of humanity. A classic-style SF novel that blends real history with fantastic gizmos, far-out space wonder, and hair-raising adventure.
Laura Woodswalker has a winning combination in this one. When she mentions in the description that this has the feel of a classic-style science fiction novel and some elements of fantasy, she wasn’t joking. There’s something here to keep both types of readers interested. It’s not quite science fantasy, because the science far outweighs the fantastical elements, but without them, some of the punch of the story would be lost.
It is a period piece, and Laura has done her homework. She does a wonderful job developing the setting appropriate to the time period to be a vibrant backdrop for the drama that plays out in the story. She does provide a few of her references at the end of the work, but even without them, you can see in the careful attention to detail how much work she’s put into her world building. She carries the story forward smoothly through the early days of the electrical revolution into a world that has been caught up in the industrial revolution that came from the event.
Not only does Laura have a deft hand developing the world, she does a wonderful job developing the characters. I’m not as familiar with the mannerisms, and speech patterns of the time. But from the little I am familiar with, I can say that everything rang true. From the street rats to the high society gents – each playing off the other to highlight and enliven the characters you encounter. Even after the action takes an unexpected turn, there is still a sense of the class separation.
The last piece of any well woven story is the pacing. There were a few parts that felt just a tad rushed, if I remember correctly. Nothing major – more like an event in the story had resisted coming into being, and then snapped together suddenly. For those familiar with H. G. Wells’ “War of the Worlds”, the pacing is similar to that tale, or the other pacing comparison I can think of is Heinlein’s “Stranger in a Strange Land”. That sense of expectation for a scene to develop, and then it suddenly coalesces. It’s not big enough to throw you out of the story, but it might make the ride a little rough as you’re barreling through the tale.
All in all, from what I remember looking back on it after a multi-month gap, I remember this being a five out of five star read. So, the hiccups might be my faulty memory, more than the writing itself. I honestly loved the clean and clear development arcs Laura used for the world and the characters. That definitely pulls you into the tale and kept me spell bound until the last page was turned. Well done!
You can get your copy of Tesla’s Signal on Amazon Here.