The Day of the Martians

Things to know: H.E. Wilberson’s The Martian Diaries, Volume 1: The Day of the Martians is an attempt to create a sequel to the famous, and infamous, War of the Worlds, by H.G. Wells; famous, because this classic science fiction novel is known around the world; infamous, because it got people outside and shooting at water towers when Orson Welles put it on as a radio play, and those water-tower hunters missed the parts where Welles informed his audience he was putting on a radio play, not reporting the news.

In terms of language, tone, pacing, and period, this sequel attempt is a success. Fans of the original Wells novel will find themselves in a familiar landscape, facing a familiar threat to humanity. Those unfamiliar with War of the Worlds in its original form, say, those who’s only experience of this classic involves a short Scientologist running around a massive CGI environment, for example, may find the narrative slow and the story underwhelming. Too bad for them.

Wilberson’s book maintains the language and tone of the original, although there is a bit of an upgrade to female characters who, while their husbands attempt to keep them safe and unaware of the pending calamity, demonstrate they not only know what is going on, but are as well-equipped to plan for the impending clash of worlds at least as well as their male counterparts. At least, the one woman in the novel does this. I have many conflicting thoughts, but not enough space to spread them all out here.

The characters are vibrant, but perhaps too similar to one another for the reader to easily differentiate, with the exception of the main character, who remains nameless, but to which we are exposed his inner thoughts and feelings. His wife, Laura, also differentiates herself with her singular perspective concerning life on the Earth.

My only real criticism of The Day of the Martians is in its breathless brevity. The author does explain why their work is so short, but this does not mitigate the reader’s experience, that the plot feels pushed up against itself, unnecessarily rushed; however, as a criticism, wanting more is perhaps the least-scathing remonstration an author can suffer.

The Day of the Martians is not only a sequel to Wells’ story, it is the first part of a series, and as such it leaves the reader with a bit of a cliffhanger. Which I won’t spoil by discussing here, because I recommend this book very highly. Although I would add, you’d be wise to read the original Wells story, to set the scene, as it were.

To that end, you can find War of the Worlds, available for free on Project Gutenberg.