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The Massacre of Mankind: The Sequel to War of the Worlds

Review

The Massacre of Mankind: The Sequel to War of the Worlds

Last year, the works of H.G. Wells slipped out of copyright protection in most of the world, including his home country of England. Any manner of Wells-related material can make its way to shelves now, and likely will, but a little support can go a long way to legitimizing an effort. Stephen Baxter has dropped THE MASSACRE OF MANKIND into our laps, and it is worth noting that it has the endorsement of the H.G. Wells Estate.

So what is it? It is a sequel to Wells' classic THE WAR OF THE WORLDS, and once you begin reading, you will be overjoyed to be holding a sequel in your hands that you never knew you wanted.

It's been 14 years since the Martians and their horrific Tripod offensive were undone by mere microbes. England has been rebuilding but is forever scarred, and is existing under the control of a near-fascist dictator. While England repaired, the Martians plotted their revenge, furiously unleashing a second assault upon Earth. Once again, the Tripods arrive to inflict horrors upon the land in their efforts to wipe out humanity. And forget microbes. They learned from that mistake.

"Looking at the major names in science fiction, there really isn't anyone better suited to be H.G. Wells right now. Baxter steps up to the plate here and absolutely crushes it."

It won't be just England facing the brunt of the attack. Baxter spends a good deal of time showing the havoc laid upon the whole of the Earth, even giving us glimpses of historical figures attempting to cope with invasion, from Corporal Hitler in Germany to Thomas Edison in America.

In a brilliant move, Baxter brings back many of the characters Wells gave us. The unnamed narrator from THE WAR OF THE WORLDS is now identified as Walter Jenkins. Needless to say, Jenkins suffers from post-traumatic stress following the events of the original novel, but he's been successful with his book, "The Narrative of the Martian Wars." His brother Frank had married Miss Elphinstone, and it is mostly through her eyes that our present narrative unfolds.

So much could be specifically discussed about the second Martian invasion and the global struggle, but to do so would truly spoil a real gem of a book. You'll need to explore the war for yourself.

Baxter is no rookie when it comes to Wells. He actually has a Wells sequel under his belt already: THE TIME SHIPS, which built upon the story of THE TIME MACHINE. He's a superb writer who pays careful attention to the details Wells laid out. And rather than scrapping the classic to modernize it and slap a new coat of paint across it, he immerses us in that same world, its history altered by those grisly events.

Looking at the major names in science fiction, there really isn't anyone better suited to be H.G. Wells right now. Baxter steps up to the plate here and absolutely crushes it. His chapters are short and impactful. His use of references to Wells and the previous work is seamless, and he throws in some nice winks for people who know enough Wells to crack a smile.

THE WAR OF THE WORLDS is timeless. That a sequel would ever be published wasn't exactly a major thought. Baxter surpasses all concerns with the release of THE MASSACRE OF MANKIND. It is extraordinary writing and makes revisiting that old world well worth the time.

Wells would be proud.

Reviewed by Stephen Hubbard on September 8, 2017

The Massacre of Mankind: The Sequel to War of the Worlds
by Stephen Baxter

  • Publication Date: August 22, 2017
  • Genres: Adventure, Fiction, Science Fiction
  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Crown
  • ISBN-10: 1524760129
  • ISBN-13: 9781524760120