Playback: Light and Shadow, a prequel to the horror movie Playback, is a novella written by Elizabeth Massie. What happened in the story horrified me, but since it was fiction, my mind was able to handle it alright. Before I wrote this review, I did some research and found out that a lot of what I had thought was solely from the imagination of the author was based on fact. Then the story became even more horrifying.
The events in this terrifying story take place over a period of one week. It opens at Luna Park, Coney Island on January 4, 1903. People were gathering at this amusement park to see something that no one had ever seen before. Forepaugh's Circus kept its animals at the rear of the park and one of its elephants had committed too many crimes. She had killed 3 men in 3 years. It made no difference that the men had been cruel to her, she still had to die. At first, the owner of the circus wanted to hang Topsy from a crane and let her swing to death, but the ASPCA protested. The owner then contemplated shooting her, but she was too big, or stabbing her, but she was too massive. What was he to do? Along comes Thomas Edison, the inventor. He offers to electrocute Topsy with alternating current electricity, a new technology discovered by Nikola Tesla and George Westinghouse.
Edison had ulterior motives for offering to do this. He had discovered direct current technology. The discovery of alternating current technology posed competition he didn't welcome. If he could show that alternating current could take down the most massive land mammal, an elephant, then he would prove that no one would be safe from it. And as if this method of killing the elephant wasn't disturbing enough already, he wanted to film her electrocution.
The horrifying electrocution of Topsy was captured on film. This was truly an appalling event, but it is all fiction, right? Well, that is what I was hoping, but when I began to research Thomas Edison and electrocution to prove to myself that the entire book was fiction, I made a horrible discovery. Part of this book is based on actual events, with some fiction that will send chills up one's spine added. The actual, grainy film of Topsy's electrocution can be found on the Internet.
The book isn't just about cruelty to animals, although Edison, the great inventor, did electrocute many stray dogs and cats, as well as one elephant, to try and prove the dangers of alternating current technology. At the center of the book is a movie camera that has been passed down from Louis Le Prince to his son and grandson. Louis Le Prince actually invented the movie camera before Thomas Edison, but he mysteriously disappeared.
Le Prince's grandson, Andrew, now has the camera and has been experiencing mysterious blackouts lately. Neither can he seem to find peace. The reason he can't find peace and the mysterious power given to him by the movie camera together weave a story that is nearly impossible to quit reading until you reach the final page. It is a story too awesome and incredible for me to give away what happens.
I strongly encourage you to buy this novella. A good investment at only $0.99, it is only 42-pages long and can easily be read in one day. What happens in this book will most likely shock you, as it did me. Once you have finished the book, I encourage you to do some research of your own and find out just how much of what was written is true.
If you would like to purchase this book, there is a link to Amazon below. It can purchased to read on your Kindle. If you don't own a Kindle, you can download one for free from Amazon that will run on your PC.
I received an copy of this novel free of charge from Net Galley If you would like your own personal copy of this book, I have provided a link below where you can purchase it from Amazon. If you choose to buy a copy of this book through my Amazon link below, it will not affect your cost any, but will supplement my income just a little.
A word of warning - this story does contain some adult language and graphic scenes that may make some readers uncomfortable.