War of the Worlds: Retaliation
1898: Martian tripods lay waste to Earth’s cities. The world’s armies are unable to stem the tide of destruction. When all hope appears lost, common bacteria kills the alien invaders. From the ashes, the human race uses the technology left behind by the Martians to build new, advanced weapons.
1924: Armed with their own spaceships, tripods, and jet fighters, the nations of the world are ready to take the fight to Mars. George Patton, Erwin Rommel, Charles de Gaulle, and Georgy Zhukov lead their troops in battle across the red planet to end the alien menace once and for all. But the Martians have one last, desperate plan to try, and if successful, it could mean the end for all humanity. – Goodreads
War of the Worlds: Retaliation Review
War of the Worlds: Retaliation is a sequel to the original War of the Worlds novel by H.G. Wells. According to the Kickstarter page, it was originally posted as a short story by John J. Rust on a fanfiction site and things spiraled out from there. It’s written in a familiar alternate-history format where one will recognize familiar names and faces, such as that of General Patton. The authors appear to have done at least some basic homework to add realism to their story, such as their nod to Patton’s believing in reincarnation. And, given that this is set only a few decades after the Martian invasion, the world isn’t quite as incredibly advanced as it could have been with that particular starting point. Hydrogen cell cars, a basic version of the internet, etc.
And, apparently, a compass that somehow works on a planet with no magnetic field. ( Yes, I will fixate on one line early in the book. I can’t help it. It made me go “Wait, what?” )
One of the things that I thought they did very well with this novel was the fact that they didn’t pretend that the invasion brought all earthlings together into this blissful state of cooperation and unity. Yes, humans work together, but even early on in the novel, it’s clear that the world hasn’t been participating in one gigantic campfire sit since the Martians attacked. This continues through to the very end where we see some scenes from after the big battle finishes. War of the Worlds: Retaliation is perhaps one of the most realistic looks at humanity in the years after an alien attack that I’ve ever read.
I listened to War of the Worlds: Retaliation as an audio book and Samuel E. Hoke III did a solid job with the narration. His voice is very low and gravely, so I worried at first that I’d have trouble telling some of the characters apart. Luckily he’s a decent hand with accents and was able to vary his pitch just enough that I didn’t have too many problems. He kept me fairly engaged with the story, and his voice tolerated an increase to 1.50x speed without much distortion.
However, while War of the Worlds: Retaliation did have a lot going for it, it just didn’t do it for me. I was never really able to lose myself completely in the story. I found myself disappointed that the Martians from had been graduated from opaque alien horrors to something that felt a step or two up (in a good way) from the Mars Attacks! Martians. As it always seems, when we humanize something that was completely alien, pardon the pun, or terrifying, that fear scales back dramatically.
Overall, it was a good listen, just not a great one for me. Still, it was fun to play in the “What-if” sandbox for a while, and I applaud Gardner and Rust for their imagination and work in bringing War of the Worlds: Retaliation to life.