Friday, November 28, 2014

Martian Dispatches!

War of the Worlds - Global Dispatches is an utterly fabulous collection of true yarns by a host of dandy sci-fi writers which has a single wonderful conceit. What if the Martian Invasion described so memorably by H.G.Wells had spread across the globe and what would have been the reaction of various significant literary and historical figures to that event?

The answer is this book, filled with just-the-right-sized stories purportedly by and or about the likes of Mark Twain, Teddy Roosevelt, Jack London, Emily Dickinson, Jules Verne, Leo Tolstoy, Albert Einstein, Joseph Conrad, and H.P. Lovecraft.

The anthology originally came out in 1996 and I grabbed up a copy then, but recently I found it again having been reprinted by Titan Books and it was even more fun this time.

The stories are at times light-hearted, at times intense, at times revealing, but always entertaining. Even the least of them is fascinating in the offbeat picture it paints of the Martians, which are almost always presented consistent with the original novel .

Favorite moments are the stories in which Twain connives to get some profit from the Martians, in which the Martians display their amorous side in Paris, and in which we learn how the Martians are really quite nimble if only in the frozen North. The funniest story for me was when the Martians run up against some tough as nails cowboys in the American Southwest. Needless to say the invaders are less successful in a country where firearms are more plentiful and the will to use them downright gleeful. 

This one gets my highest recommendation. It's an absolute hoot and a half.

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