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markk

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Stretching Wells's style out of shape

The Massacre of Mankind: Sequel to The War of the Worlds - Stephen Baxter

I really wanted to like this book. H. G. Wells's original novel was one of my favorite books growing up, and I really liked Stephen Baxter's sequel to The Time Machine. And by and large what he has written is an enjoyable book, filled with action and brimming with speculation as to how the aftermath of a turn-of-the-century world might have been changed by the first Martian invasion.

And yet there are serious flaws that prevent this from being as successful of a work as Baxter's The Time Ships. The main problem is the mismatch of structure and scope, as Baxter attempts as he did in his previous sequel to apply Wells's approach of relating events primarily through a single narrator to a book in which the plot unfolds on a global scale. While Julie Elphinstone is effective as a character, her inability to be everywhere at once means relying upon other characters (interviewed by Julie after the events), all of whom relate their stories with implausible accuracy. Perhaps Baxter would have been better off relying upon the "oral history" approach Max Brooks used so successfully in World War Z. While the result would have been less Wellsian than Baxter intended, it would have been a better way to convey the epic scale to which he so clearly aspired.