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Tillabooks: Will's Book Blog

Sunday, February 12, 2006

The Martian War by Gabriel Mesta

The Martian War: A Thrilling Eyewitness Account of the Recent Alien Invasion as Reported by Mr. H.G. Wells by Gabriel Mesta. New York: Pocket Books, 2005. ISBN: 0-7434-4639-9

This book is a takeoff on The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells. The premise requires us to suspend our modern knowledge of Mars and the Moon as desolate, airless worlds, and instead, imagine them as Wells or Edgar Rice Burroughs might have done: alien worlds rife with life, both floral and faunal (is that a word?). The main characters, in addition to Wells himself, are his paramour, the lovely (AND intelligent) Amy Catherine Robbins (who Wells calls “Jane”, by which name she is referred to throughout the book), the very real T.H. Huxley, equally real Percival Lowell and the fictional Dr. Moreau, who acts as a real character in this tale.

Before the story is over, Wells, Jane and Huxley travel not only to the moon, but all the way to Mars, where they cleverly manage to foil the incipient invasion, about to occur. We are presumably supposed to imagine that Wells' famous War of the Worlds is his imaginary tale of what would have occurred, had not the Martians' invasion plans been thus thwarted.

It is hard to categorize a tale such as this, written as though none of the subsequent knowledge of our solar system yet existed. In other words, written within the milieu and scientific knowledge of the previous century. Perhaps the “Author's Note” sums it up best:

During extensive historical research undertaken by the author in writing this book, it became sadly but abundantly apparent that the events as set forth in this novel did not, in fact, occur.

However, with the benefit of more than a century of hindsight, one can see that this is indeed how history should have happened.

So, recommended for all those folks who enjoyed The War of the Worlds (the original novel, not the movie), and might enjoy an alternate version of those events that it portrayed. Science fiction in an archaic and obsolete style, but not without its own somewhat dubious charms.

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