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THE MARTIAN WAR by Gabriel Mesta


A Thrilling Eyewitness Account of the Recent Alien Invasion as Reported by Mr. H.G. Wells

by Gabriel Mesta

Pub Date: April 5th, 2005
ISBN: 0-7434-4639-9
Publisher: Pocket

Would-be SF thriller posits H.G. Wells as having actually experienced the adventures he wrote about.

Where to start? First, the subtitle is misleading: the account is not reported by Mr. H.G. Wells, but by a plain old omniscient narrator. And even if Wells were reporting, he wouldn’t be giving an account of a Martian invasion, since the plot here centers instead on Wells’s quick thinking aided by a friendly lunar leader to foil the Martians before they can attack the Earth. It happens this way: Wells, his girlfriend, and his mentor, accidentally launched on an interstellar journey, manage to figure out that the Martians are aggressive and must be stopped. A subplot concerns the obsession of one Percival Lowell (of the Lowell Observatory), who causes 30 miles of canals to be dug and set ablaze in the Sahara with the aim of luring a Martian by dint of flaming geometry. Sure enough, a silver cylinder from space plunges deep into the desert sands, complete with hideous aliens and menacing machinery. Enter Dr. Moreau—oh, why not? The renegade physician keeps a convenient journal detailing his various experiments with the Martian, depicted as the familiar, slimy brain sack on tentacles. There’s even an invisible man character who wreaks havoc. In general, rather than create characters with any animation, Mesta (a.k.a. veteran Kevin J. Anderson, A Forest of Stars, 2003, etc.) juggles numerous Wells references. The story is glacial and rapid by turns, with strange moments aplenty, but most jarring of all may be the way Wells and his companions make their quick trips to the moon and Mars: interstellar speed is achieved by means of a gravity-resistant ship and the use of window shades cleverly raised and lowered. One constant is the dialogue: stilted and unnatural throughout, as are the characters’ responses to their many mind-blowing adventures.

One to avoid.