The Massacre of Mankind

{4.5/5} “None of it seemed real to me, and the more I thrust myself into these foolish adventures, the more unreal it felt, a puppet show on the slope of a volcano. I kept thinking of those striking words Walter had used in his Narrative, to catch the mood of the last days he and Carolyne had spent in Woking before the cylinders fell: ‘ It seemed so safe and tranquil.'”

The Massacre of Mankind by Stephen Baxter, published in 2017

The war with the Martians was in 1907. Thirteen years later, England has made a pack with Germany and Germany has conquered Europe. Flashes are seen on Mars and it’s soon confirmed — a whole fleet of Martian ships is headed for Earth. England mounts a valiant defense but the Martian force is superior.

This is a sequel to The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells. I wouldn’t have necessarily picked it up, except it’s by the author of  the masterpiece The Time Ships, the sequel to The Time Machine.

The tone of the book is similar to Connie Willis’s Blackout / All Clear — both stories take place during a war, but the main characters are not soldiers.

The speculation about how the early 20th century could have proceeded differently is intriguing. There are many delightful moments, like the Russian soldier and German soldier meeting under a white flag.

One more quotation: “We were lucky, it was said, that our convoy didn’t include the White Star’s Titanic, thought by many to be a cursed ship since she was almost wrecked by an iceberg on her maiden voyage — saved only by hull armor of high-quality Martian-grade aluminum.”

I’ve read 12 books by Baxter. I previously reviewed the novel he wrote with Arthur C. Clarke, The Light of Other Days.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 9th, 2019 at 8:29 pm and is filed under Reviews of books. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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