Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Martian in the Wood, by Stephen Baxter

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(SF Pastiche) When Zena’s brother disappears into a mysterious forest on her family property, she goes looking, and she finds that not all of the Martian invaders perished at the end of the War of the Worlds. (16,603 words; Time: 55m)

Rating: ★★★☆☆ Average

Readers need to at least know the plot of The War of the Worlds. Those who already read Mythago Wood will enjoy the many references to it, but it’s not essential. This story precedes the author’s book, The Massacre of Mankind.

"," by (edited by Jonathan Strahan), published on by .

Mini-Review (click to view--possible spoilers)

Pro: The plot is clean and simple: it’s how Zena rescued her brother from the Martian. She did call in outside help (Walter Jenkins) but she did her own research investigating the woods, and she’s the one who destroyed the crystal egg.

Given the presumptions, this is arguably a hard-SF story. There's a problem caused by technology, the hero researches it and, with some help, she fixes it.

Con: There’s no explanation of how this one Martian survived.

Nathan is not wholly blameless here, but he gets off scott-free. Yes, he was influenced by the Martian, but Zena managed to resist it. And why was that boy murdered?

We know from the text (as well as the sequel) that the Martian’s did invade again, but you’d expect that the Martian’s return to Mars would set off an epidemic there that would decimate their society.

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5 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. The whole vision of the ice age seemed superfluous. I was thinking, "When are we going to get to the Martian?"

    1. Yeah, you really needed to read "Mythago Wood" to get that part.

    2. Aah, I thought that might be the case. The style was done well, and I am interested in reading Baxter's book now.

    3. I felt otherwise, but partly because "The Massacre of Mankind" didn't sound like something I wanted to read.

    4. Understandable! It does mirror the first title's alliteration nicely though. And we know at least a woman survives to tell the tale! :)