Aliens visiting Earth is both a past and contemporary fascination and source of excitement and fear. Building from a seminal work on this topic, Stephen Baxter’s The Massacre of Mankind explores a world where the first Martian invasion is followed by another attempt over a decade later.
Years after the Martians first landed on Earth in England and were rebuffed by the germs of humans, eyes turn to the skies once again. With a greater knowledge of space and utilizing the mechanical material left behind from the first invasion, humans have been able to better prepare for the next opportunity to face the Martians and feel confident that they can easily win the battle. The Martians have not been sitting idly by, but have regrouped and appear to be making another, stronger attempt to take over the Earth; the coordinated invasion across the globe leads to a years-long battle and struggle for human survival, which is documented and commented upon by the journalist sister-in-law of Walter Jenkins.
While I greatly enjoyed The War of the Worlds, it took a lot of effort to trudge through this (unnecessarily LONG) sequel instead of being compelled through it, as I was by the first book, by its story and characters; I thought I would be far more interested as the story takes place in an alternate historical timeline, but after the initial Martian landing I quickly lost any invested interest I had. The text introduces characters that aren’t relevant to the narrative other than the fact that the live where the Martians were landing; it seemed to be an attempt to personalize the invasion, but served more as a way to derail the story from getting to its point as the characters were not woven into the story at large in a significant way. Moments of intense action were offset by long periods of describing travel or other inane things, which, while practical in setting the scene, was boring with the extent to which it was depicted. I found that the concept of aliens taking over a world to make it their own and fighting with beings from other planets made for an interesting parallel to and comment upon the nations of Earth and colonization throughout history, but it wasn’t addressed in a meaningful manner.
Overall, I’d give it a 2 out of 5 stars.