Shadows of the Past

Great War of the Worlds Book #1

Fiction - Science Fiction
362 Pages
Reviewed on 06/27/2024
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Scott Cahan for Readers' Favorite

Shadows of the Past: Great War of the Worlds, Book #1 by Eric Goebelbecker is an alternate history/science fiction novel set during WWI. The story presupposes Martians attacked our planet 20 years earlier, as told in the classic H.G. Wells novel, War of the Worlds. Shadows of the Past tells its story through the eyes of two unlikely heroes. One is Emil Zimmerman, a low-level German soldier during World War I. When Martian weaponry is discovered and used by humans to turn the tide of the war, Emil must grapple with the consequences. The other hero is a civilian back in the U.S. named James Brogan. James is a radio engineer pulled into the war by American troops who need help interpreting strange radio signals. Even though James and Emil are on different continents, they come to the same conclusion; the war between human nations must be put on hold for a time because a bigger threat is on the horizon.

As I read Shadows of the Past, I felt like I was transported into an old black-and-white war movie. The characters are strong and very passionate about doing the right thing, or the wrong thing in the case of the villains. The evils of war are ever present but never overbearing. This author does a great job of putting the reader into that period with the appropriate culture, politics, behavior, and technology. Even the science fiction elements of the story felt appropriately old-fashioned, and that’s the point. Author Eric Goebelbecker has practically invented his own genre by taking a beloved science fiction story published in 1897 (followed by a radio show, and movies), and continuing the story into a kind of “what if” scenario. Shadows of the Past is an enjoyable read with fantastic characters and a compelling plot that keeps its readers on the edge of their seats. This book sets up a new series about aliens invading Earth. I look forward to learning more about how the Martians will change the course of human history.

Rabia Tanveer

Shadows of the Past is the first book in the Great War of the Worlds series by Eric Goebelbecker. Opening the series with a bang, the story is set in an alternate universe in 1915. The Martian invasion of Earth ended twenty years earlier, leaving the planet reeling. They left behind a ravaged planet on the brink of war and all the Martian technology. The story begins with two protagonists, James Brogan and Emil Zimmerman. James was a radio engineer and Emil was a German soldier. Emil wanted to leave his village life behind for better opportunities in the city, but he got caught up in the war and was fighting with Martian weapons. On the other hand, introverted James just wanted to live his life in peace. However, neither of the men knew what the future had in store for them. As the war heated up, both James and Emil would have to make some difficult choices. But do they have the luxury of choice in times like these?

What a great way to open a science-fiction story! It has been a long time since I read a good action novel with a mystery that had me guessing. The story was fantastic and its execution was even better. There was never a dull moment. The plot was intricate, the characters were incredible, and the story was riveting. I loved the character arcs of the protagonists and enjoyed their development the most. The only thing I liked more than Emil and James was the constant action! The fast-paced action, the incredible descriptions, and the overall narrative were entertaining. Author Eric Goebelbecker handled both protagonists with immense care. He gave readers an American and a German perspective. I loved how Emil was the more vibrant character who was full of life, while James was the quiet one who was looking for ways to hide from the world. Both were unique and showed different sides of the story. I loved Shadows of the Past by Eric Goebelbecker and highly recommend it!

K.C. Finn

Shadows of the Past is a work of fiction in the science fiction, action, and adventure genres, and is the opening novel of the Great War of the Worlds series penned by author Eric Goebelbecker. Set in 1915, two decades after the failed Martian invasion from War of the Worlds, we find ourselves in a place where the abandoned Martian technology has pushed humanity to the edge of a catastrophic war. The story follows Emil Zimmerman, a young German soldier, and James Brogan, an introverted radio engineer. Emil dreams of escaping his village but ends up in the trenches, while James is drawn into a conspiracy involving critical radio repairs. As the world teeters on destruction, their paths converge and they struggle to navigate the chaos.

Author Eric Goebelbecker offers a creative and immersive take on a classic tale to craft this enthralling novel that combines science fiction with a compelling alternate history narrative. The juxtaposition of Emil’s and James’s lives, set against the backdrop of a world on the brink of war due to abandoned Martian technology, created a rich and immersive storyline punctuated with fantastic dialogue and thought presentation. The stark realities of war and technological advancement were on full display with meticulous and imaginative descriptions that made everything cinematic. This was balanced against the moments of intrigue and suspense that kept the revelations coming as we sat on the characters' shoulders and made each thrilling discovery with them. The way their paths eventually crossed was masterfully woven, keeping me hooked on their survival against all odds. Overall, I would not hesitate to recommend Shadows of the Past to fans of accomplished updates on classic science fiction.