Book Review – The War of the Worlds: Aftermath by Tony Wright
Title: The War of the Worlds: Aftermath
Author: Tony Wright
Publisher: Wild Wolf, Copyright: 2010
Genre: Science Fiction
This is written as a sequel to H.G. Wells’ classic story of Martian invasion and has the same first person protagonist. The narrative of this book states that Wells wrote the original War of the Worlds, but that the protagonist himself (who here is called John Smith) penned this sequel. It’s a clever way to explain the stylistic differences.
In this story, we are told that the Martians, which we thought all succumbed to earthly bacteria in the original novel, did not. Some survived, and they are still trying to conquer Earth.
The story includes characters, settings, and story elements from Wells’ novel The War of the Worlds and his short story The Crystal Egg, both originally published in 1897. It also presents minor characters from fact and fiction including Winston Churchill, Sherlock Holmes, and H.G. Wells. The prose, for the most part, is reminiscent of Wells’ original and of other books from that time.
Having recently reread some of Wells’ work, the differences between this and the original stood out to me. The Martians present the most obvious one. In Wells’ original story, they are technologically impressive, but physically unsuited for Earth’s stronger gravity. Their machines do all the fighting because they cannot. In this sequel, they are strong and quick, and they engage in hand-to-hand combat with humans. They are more like modern movie aliens than the inscrutable and very, well, alien creatures Wells portrayed.
The main character also varies. In the original, he is educated, thoughtful, well off, and largely a victim and beneficiary of circumstance. In this book, he seems less thoughtful, more aggressive, and his jingoism is more in evidence. In the original book, I found the character likeable, in this one, not so much.
‘Action’ is much more pronounced than in the original novel, and violence is more graphically depicted. Wells tended to relate such things more by implication, lending a certain air of refinement to his work. I tend to think of this as almost a characteristic of reserved British culture of the time, at least for gentlemen. This difference made the sequel feel more like a contemporary action adventure steampunk novel, unfortunately.
The cover art is very good, but the editing is not. I noticed several typos and places where the prose could use a bit of polish, especially regarding choice of words so as not to sound repetitive.
The story is engaging enough that I would recommend it to those who enjoyed the original War of the Worlds novel. It is interesting to see what one writer who is obviously a big Wells fan imagines could have happened next.