In this classic SF novel, a series of explosions are seen on Mars. Sometime later, metal cylinders land on Earth in the area immediately around LondonIn this classic SF novel, a series of explosions are seen on Mars. Sometime later, metal cylinders land on Earth in the area immediately around London. When they open, Martians emerge and starting building machines that allow them to move around in the higher gravity of Earth, and defeat all attempts to resist them. The narrator is trapped inside the invasion zone, and meets a number of other survivors, and spends a period later in the book trapped with a curate in a half-destroyed house right next to the pit where a later cylinder landed, unable to escape. When the increasingly deranged curate endangers them both, he has little choice but to kill the man to save himself. Finally, when the noises of the Martians disappear, he emerges from the house and heads into London, where he finds the Martians dead or dying, killed by Earth bacteria. He then covers a little of the start of recovery, including the fact that the narrator is clearly suffering from PTSD, which surprised me, since I thought awareness of this only began with the first World War, and this novel was published more than a decade before that war.
BTW, I strongly recommend the summer of 2017 sequel, The Massacre of Mankind: Sequel to the War of the Worlds, which takes one of the few named characters from the book (Miss Elphinstone) and imagines her as a divorced reporter when the second invasion arrives in 1920. It was a thoroughly enjoyable sequel, maintaining the style of the original, while modernising the storytelling....more
The Massacre of Mankind begins more than a decade after the end of the original War of the Worlds, when the Miss Elphinstone who appears in the originThe Massacre of Mankind begins more than a decade after the end of the original War of the Worlds, when the Miss Elphinstone who appears in the original novel, is a reporter in the US. She is summoned by her former brother-in-law Walter (the narrator of the original novel) to Berlin. History has much changed as a result of the original invasion. WWI did not happen, since when Germany started invading their neighbours, including France, the rest of the world was not inclined to fight back after rebuilding from the Martian war.
The reason for the summons is that a new fleet has been launched from Mars. Instead of one canon shooting cylinders, now there are ten, shooting even more of their vessels. And the Martians learned from their previous failed invasion, so while the military expects the same timeline as the previous invasion, they are quickly overwhelmed by the new tactics. The Martians are able to set up a foothold in England, with people trapped inside the zone of control, making do with their situation, while the people outside work on coming up with a new biological weapon. This is followed by a second wave that spreads out from England, with snippets about the invaders hitting the US, South Africa, Germany, and other parts of the world. The new, female, narrator becomes an integral part of the attempt to stop the Martians from taking over the entire world.
While the original novel feels rather dated, the new novel was fantastic, while preserving the feel of the original (including the ridiculous ideas about the evolution of the solar system). The change to a female narrator gives a different slant on the story, since sexism. Beyond her, there are other strong women, heroic characters, characters that are anything but. And the ending wraps things up, while leaving everything on a note of uncertainty that means that if there is room for a follow-up, but if none appears, we have a satisfying ending....more
I would count this as a solid, if not exceptional, entry in the series. I found the crime itself a little uncomfortable, and the plot was pretty generI would count this as a solid, if not exceptional, entry in the series. I found the crime itself a little uncomfortable, and the plot was pretty generic after more than twenty years in the series (I started reading them before book 10 came out). It had all the usual beats (Dallas identifying with a victim, nightmares, overworking, consult with Dr Mira, insulting Sommerset, Peabody on a diet, Peabody and McNabs' weird wardrobes, etc. Nadine and Mavis were the only missing regulars, and they were mentioned)
And yet, I like the characters, and the writing always pulls me along. Even a bad book in the series doesn't put me off. Usually I get tired of long-running series by about book 10 at the latest, but here I am, reading book 44 and looking forward to 45 later this year....more
Nostalgia was a book that I started out wondering just why it had been selected for Canada Reads 2017. The concept, at least aSee my review on my blog
Nostalgia was a book that I started out wondering just why it had been selected for Canada Reads 2017. The concept, at least at first, seems pretty basic. In the not-so-distant future (although there is a single reference to space colonies, so it’s a little further into the future than I initially thought), the rich, at least, have the option of rejuvenation. In theory, you could live forever. However, the human mind cannot go that long without problems. As a result, when a person undergoes rejuvenation, their memories are wiped and replaced by a new, fake life (referred to as fictions). But for some people, old memories start sneaking through; a condition called Leaked Memory Syndrome, but more commonly ‘Nostalgia’. Sounds harmless, but eventually it causes catastrophic failure, and potentially death.
The main character in the book is a doctor who treats patients for LMS. His latest patient has strange images popping up, but he doesn’t seem to want to be treated to remove these stray images. As well, a government agency is intensely interested in the man. Meanwhile, a reporter who travelled to the last remaining ‘third world’ area (probably Africa, although never fully identified), and was apparently killed there, only to turn up later as a member of a terrorist organization that takes a bus of tourists hostage. She comes across as very Patty Hearst.
For the first half of the book, everything seems pretty straightforward. Even the journal entries that the doctor writes, imagining what happened to the young reporter, with constantly evolving stories, don’t really seem all that deep.
But then things take a turn, and it really started me thinking. How well could these rewritten pasts work in the long term? After all, while the new person remembers a past, they don’t really have a family. They are all faked, so you can never meet them. It seems very isolating. And then there’s the resentment of the young. There are protests from G0s (never rejuvenated) who can’t find jobs and will never inherit money or homes. Then there’s the poor who could never afford the process. And what about religion when you don’t have to think about reincarnation or afterlives?
Combine those questions with the questionable behaviour of the first world towards the third world (seal them off, let them rot, but let tourists go ogle them), and the story started feeling more and more relevant as time went on.
By the end, I was seeing all sorts of parallels to contemporary life and the ‘real’ world. It became very intense, and while I never might have picked up the book on my own, I am glad that I read it. ...more
I'm still trying to figure out how this book made it onto the Canada Reads 2017 list, let alone to the final two. Don't get me wrong; Company Town is a solid, enjoyable SF novel. It could also, if you squint, tie into the whole 'missing and murdered aboriginal women' controversies in Canada these days (for the Americans, this is close to being our 'black lives matter'). It also has a look at what people would like to see for sex workers (unions, reps, bodyguards).
The central story is of Hwa, a very tough woman who is the only person in the town (an oil rig in the Atlantic) without enhancements that can be manipulated by outsiders is hired to be a bodyguard to the youngest son of the Lynch family, that has just bought the rig. At the same time, someone has started killing sex workers.
Everything chugged along until the climax. When the ultimate villain is finally revealed, I was scratching my head wondering if we'd met the character before. Completely unmemorable. And I'm still not sure just what she/he is. The whole ending, from the elevator to the last page, was rather muddle. I liked the 250 pages up to then, but the ending dropped my rating.
Far more successful was the romance subplot. Daniel was an interesting character, and they manage to work a slow move towards a relationship without Hwa wallowing in 'why oh why would he be interested in me?'. She does have some of that, but definitely no wallowing. The heir she is bodyguarding was also a very likeable kid without being saccharine.
So, having read four of the Canada Reads 2017 book (only The Break left to go), I can firmly say, this one is the bottom of the list for me. However, as just a science fiction novel, it was a worthy read. Except for the confusion at the end....more
A group of billionaires decide to fund a Mars mission on their own and do it in five years, despite attempts to interfere. The story was far too simplA group of billionaires decide to fund a Mars mission on their own and do it in five years, despite attempts to interfere. The story was far too simple, and the romance was dropped in without being earned. The book wasn't bad, it was just disappointing....more