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The War of the Worlds Global Dispatches edited by Kevin J. Anderson (1996)

The War of the Worlds Global Dispatches edited by Kevin J. Anderson

Did the Martians only land in England? Well, if we are to believe the dispatches in this book, then we can only conclude that the Martian invasion was on a far grander scale than previously imagined. In support of this contention, editor Kevin J. Anderson has assembled an extraordinary collection of stories that not only span the globe, but also reveal that the Martians encountered a great many famous persons of the age, amongst them, Mark Train, Albert Einstein and Jules Verne. Of course it's all as much a fantasy as the original novel, but the central conceit, that a Martian invasion did take place, is carried off with a delightful air of mock seriousness that propels the reader breathlessly from story to story and place to place. These varied locations, which range as far afield as China, France, Russia and America impart a great deal of freshness to the core concept and whilst the stories do not all connect entirely seamlessly (inevitably from a collection like this there are contradictions) there is an enormous amount of fun to be had from seeing the Martian invasion through fresh eyes.

It is a fascinating intellectual exercise to imagination how a Martian invasion would have altered history, propelling some to greatness and reducing others who might have been great to obscurity. Mark W. Tiedemann plays with this idea to great effect in his story Resurrection, which stars Leo Tolstoy but also features in passing a certain Iosef Vissarionovich. His more familiar nom de guerre is never mentioned and if you're not sure who he is, I'll leave it to you or Google to figure it out, but it is a neat inversion of this type of story (which so often features the good and the great triumphing against adversity) to instead postulate that a great (and I use the word carefully) figure would find their ambitions thwarted and would simply melt away into total anonymity.

There are some writers of considerable calibre assembled in this book, each of whom has clearly taken great pains to get under the skin of their protagonists. In Blue Period, Daniel Marcus brings us the adventures of Pablo Picasso in Paris, as the great artist finds inspiration from the Martian onslaught, while Dave Wolverton's After a lean winter finds Jack London regretting his decision to seek sanctuary in the Yukon, as it proves far from the safe haven he imagined. Indeed, this story breaks free intriguingly from the established lore that the Martians all died of infections by suggesting that they might have fared better in colder climes. In fact several stories find inventive ways of breaking free of the bonds of the original story, none more so than Connie Willis' highly surreal attempt to weave the life of Emily Dickinson into the narrative, Willis not in the least deterred by the fact that Dickinson died several years before the invasion.

This is a great book that no War of the Worlds fan should be without, and I for one would love to see some enterprising movie producer take out an option. It would make a superb anthology movie, with animation perhaps proving the most effective avenue. Weave together half a dozen radically different animation styles (Japanese animation would be an exciting form) and it would make for a truly exciting production.

Here is a full list of the stories contained within.

The Roosevelt dispatches by Mike Resnick. Teddy Roosevelt encounters and shoots a Martian in Cuba. But are there more of these strange beasts to be hunted down?

Canals in the sand by Kevin J. Anderson. Percival Lowell becomes convinced Martians are on the way and attempts to entice them to land in the Sahara by igniting a huge signal fire.

Foreign Devils by Walter Jon Williams. The Dowager Empress of China battles both court intrigues and Martians to rescue her country from a new breed of foreign devil.

Blue Period by Daniel Marcus. Pablo Picasso witnesses the destruction of Paris at the hands of the Martians.

The Martian invasion journals of Henry James by Robert Silverberg. Purporting to be the previously unpublished journal entries of Henry James, this places the writer in the company of H.G. Wells as the Martian invasion begins in England.

The true tale of the final battle of Umslopogaas the Zulu by Janet Berliner. A letter written by Winston Churchill to H. Rider Haggard reveals an encounter with Martians and Haggard's heroic Zulu warrior creation, Umslopagas.

Night of the Cooters by Howard Waldrop. A Texas Ranger rallies his town to fight a Martian landing.

Determinism and the Martian war, with relativistic corrections by Doug Beason. Albert Einstein reveals a hitherto unknown heroic streak, and gets a close up glimpse of Martian technology.

Soldier of the Queen by Barbara Hambly. Rudyard Kipling discovers that the Martian invasion has serious implications for the British Empire and its hold over its subject nations.

Mars: The home front by George Alex Effinger. Edgar Rice Burroughs meets his fictional creation John Carter of Mars and learns of the Martian threat to earth.

A letter from St. Louis by Allen Steele. A young reporter writes to his sister, telling of an encounter with his employer Joseph Pulitzer, during a Martian assault on the city of St. Louis.

Resurrection by Mark W. Tiedemann. Leo Tolstoy organises relief and resistance to the Martian invasion, but there are tensions between the social classes as the Martian invasion threatens more than life and limb.

Paris conquers all by George Benford and David Brin. Jules Verne is caught up in the Martian invasion of Paris and comes up with a novel way of attacking the invaders.

To Mars and providence by Don Webb. A young H. P. Lovecraft has a mystical encounter with the Martians.

Roughing it during the Martian invasion by Daniel Keys Moran and Jodi Moran. Mark Twain organises the capture of some living Martians.

To see the world end by M. Shayne Bell. Joseph Conrad seeks sanctuary from the invasion in the Kongo Free State.

After a lean winter by Dave Wolverton. Jack London and a group of snowbound trappers make sport of a captured Martian.

The soul selects her own society: invasion and repulsion: a chronological reinterpretation of two of Emily Dickinson's poems: a Wellsian perspective by Connie Willis. The title says it all. A very strange tale told in a purposefully straight-laced academic style.

Afterward: Retrospective by Gregory Benford and David Brin. Jules Verne gets the last word on the Martian invasion.

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See also

Books

1898
The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells

The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells. The ultimate novel of alien invasion as Martians crash to Earth in Victorian England.

1969
Sherlock Holmes The War of the Worlds by Manly & Wade Wellman.

Sherlock Holmes's War of the Worlds by Manly & Wade Wellman. The Martians find a worthy opponent in the great dectective of Baker Street.

Comics

1973
Killraven

Killraven. A bold attempt to show a war of resistance against a conquering second Martian Invasion in the year 2001.

1996
The Haven and the Hellweed

The Haven and the Hellweed. A gritty vision of a modern day Earth under the heel of the Martians. A more realistic counterpoint to the Killraven series.

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