Recent Reading: The Visitor, by J.L. Pattison

The Visitor: A Short Story, by J.L. Pattison

Before I write a food words about the book, let me make a couple of notes: First, the book is available for free on Amazon for Kindle until tomorrow, September 6th. I’d encourage you to download it. Second, Mr. Pattison is a regular commentor on this blog, and has one of his own HERE.

The book itself is a short story set in the late 1800s through the mid 1900s. It blends science fiction with real history. I’m not always a fan of such, but he actually pulls it off quite well. It tells the story of how an American from some point in ‘the future’ attempts to travel back to warn the founding fathers of the United States of the future actions of the nation and the tragedies it will be involved in. The time traveler doesn’t quite make his destination of late 18th Century America, but he does manage to give his account to a former slave, now farmer, in late 19th Century Georgia. Leroy Jenkins, our Georgia farmer, has a hard time getting anyone, including a fairly well known journalist, to believe his story about the future of America. But by the end of the story, the assassination of a president makes at least one believer out of the long-dead Leroy’s story.

Pattison manages to weave some interesting themes and allusions into the story. I personally enjoyed this aspect of the narrative, though he is kind of scratching where I itch on these.  I’m not sure if the Leroy Jenkins of the story is somehow a nod to the Leroy Jenkins of viral video-game clip fame (not linking it because of questionable language), but it made me giggle upon reading the first line of the story. The Leroy of the story is actually sort of opposite to the Leroy of the video game, since he doesn’t go storming into anything, but actually remains overly passive in some sense. [Edit: Mr. Pattison tells me this was no meant to be an allusion]. There is also an allusion to the tension between the sovereignty of God and the outworking of history in relation to time travel. I find that to be an interesting thought experiment. Finally, there’s a big nod given to Neil Postman and his vision of the American future given in Amusing Ourselves to Death; Pattison even manages to give a bit of a nod to Aldous Huxley, though I know he’s not a huge fan of Brave New World. The needle-in-the-arm-sedation ending is quite Huxlean, and I thought it was a brilliant ending.

I recommend the story. It’s a very short read, but quite intriguing. The weaving of an interesting fictional narrative with theology, history, political commentary, media ecology, science fiction, and pharmaceuticals in such a short space is impressive.

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8 thoughts on “Recent Reading: The Visitor, by J.L. Pattison

  1. Heath:

    Thank you for reading The Visitor and for your review. Let me first start out by saying, no . . . unequivocally, no, and in no way, shape, or form was my Leroy Jenkins character an allusion to or a nod to the Leeroy Jenkins in the video that you mentioned in your review. In fact, it’s interesting that you mentioned that, and if you got a second, I’ll tell you why.

    After a friend of mine downloaded The Visitor a couple weeks ago, he sent me a message laughing about “Leroy Jenkins.” I immediately said, “Uh, oh. That can’t be good.”

    I had no idea what he was talking about so he sent me a video from a video game with a Leeroy Jenkins character. In a nutshell, I will never get those two minutes of my life back.

    My character had nothing to do with this other Jenkins guy so you can remove the mention of it from your reviews if you wish.

    In fact, I am now seriously considering changing the name of Leroy Jenkins in any future editions. If I learned anything from this, it’s that I will google all future names of my characters to avoid any confusion or embarrassment.

    Now regarding allusions, I actually had several in the story to Orwell and his book 1984. And as always, at least one reference to the Twilight Zone (there’s one reference to Twilight Zone in every story I write . . . it’s kind of like a Where’s Waldo, but instead of looking for some guy in a striped shirt, you’re looking for the Twilight Zone reference).

    The 1984 allusions are easy to spot (if you’re moderately familiar with the book), but the Twilight Zone reference is not . . . especially when you don’t know which episode of Twilight Zone I used (which makes it all the more challenging).

    Anyway, I wanted to say thank you for not only reading The Visitor and reviewing it, but for also mentioning it on your blog. I appreciate any exposure The Visitor can get. And thanks for supporting indie published authors.

    Sincerely,
    – J.L. Pattison

    • I’m going to edit the blog post to acknowledge that ‘Leroy Jenkins’ was a coincidence. I still think that there’s some unintentional irony in the name :). I have never so much as watched once episode of the Twilight Zone, so I didn’t pick up on that one.

  2. Can’t be any unintentional irony considering I didn’t know about Leeroy Jenkins until after I published the story. How come no one thinks of Leroy Jenkins the composer who was born in Chicago in 1932? Maybe that was the unintentional irony. And don’t look now, but there’s even a televangelist named Leroy Jenkins.

    I’m really considering a total name overhaul now.

    And since you know about the video game featuring Leeroy Jenkins but have never seen an episode of The Twilight Zone, we can no longer be friends. LOL

    🙂

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