cover image War of the Worlds

War of the Worlds

. Spectra Books, $22.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-553-10353-3

Martians! Percival Lowell may have been responsible for bringing them to Earth; Teddy Roosevelt evidently bagged one in Cuba; H.P. Lovecraft may have been one; and both Albert Einstein and Emily Dickinson seem to have played a role in defeating them. In this collection of stories that complement H.G. Wells's classic novel, these and other speculations are entertained by such well-known SF writers as Mike Resnick, Walter Jon Williams, Robert Silverberg, Connie Willis, Barbara Hambly, Gregory Benford and David Brin. One entry, Howard Waldrop's ""Night of the Cooters,"" which concerns Martians and Texas Rangers, is a reprint. The 18 originals center on the reactions of various historical personages to the advent of Wells's invaders, including Picasso, Henry James, Winston Churchill, H. Rider Haggard, China's Dowager Empress, Rudyard Kipling, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Leo Tolstoy, Jules Verne, Mark Twain and Joseph Conrad. Anderson (Climbing Olympus, 1994) has brought together some solid stories here. But since the overarching plot line apes the Wells, variety and suspense take a back seat. The more successful pieces, then, are those like Waldrop's, or Willis's tale of Emily Dickinson's posthumous heroics, which parody the Wellsian universe. Overall, however, this is a far more literate and imaginative tracing of a Martian invasion than the one offered in Martian Deathtrap, reviewed below. (May)