War of the Worlds redux (article).

In the vast and eclectic universe of science fiction, where the boundaries of imagination are as limitless as the stars themselves, there lies a peculiar fascination with resurrecting and reimagining the classics. Among these revered tomes of alien invasions and interstellar warfare, H.G. Wells’ seminal novel, The War of the Worlds, stands as a beacon of inspiration for those daring enough to extend its narrative into uncharted territories. This journey of sequelization is akin to attempting to brew a new type of tea from leaves that have already steeped their essence into the annals of literary history. The results, as one might expect, are as varied as they are intriguing.

Take, for instance, War of the Worlds: Goliath, a Malaysian animated spectacle that decided to leapfrog into the future, setting its scene in an alternate reality Earth of 1914, where the aftermath of the Martian invasion has spurred humanity into a technological renaissance of dieselpunk and steampunk aesthetics. The concept alone is enough to make any sci-fi aficionado’s gears whir with excitement. Here, Eric Wells, no relation to our dear author but certainly a nod, becomes the Captain of a tripod squad in the A.R.E.S. (Allied Resistance Earth Squadrons), commanding a steam-powered Battle Tripod named ‘The Goliath’. Despite its ambitious setup and a roster of voice talents that could fill a convention hall, the film was met with less enthusiasm than a Martian at a bacteria convention, criticized for its messy execution by critics from the Los Angeles Times and The New York Times (these days, we’d treat that as a compliment).

On the flip side of the Martian coin, we have Scarlet Traces, a steampunk comic series that follows the British Empire’s efforts to reverse-engineer Martian technology to establish dominance over Earth and beyond. Written by Ian Edginton and illustrated by D’Israeli, this series kicks off with the discovery of bodies drained of blood along the Thames, spiraling into a tale of intrigue, Martian technological marvels, and the quintessentially British quest for interplanetary imperialism. The series spans from the immediate aftermath of the original Martian debacle to a counter-invasion of Mars that goes about as well as a picnic in a hurricane.

Scarlet Traces and its sequels, including The Great Game and Cold War, weave a rich tapestry of alternate history, political intrigue, and the timeless question of what it means to be human in a world where the lines between man and alien blur. The artwork brings early 20th-century Britain to life with a Martian twist, featuring spider-legged London cabs and heat-ray toting pigeons. It’s a world where Britain, having secured the ultimate Brexit from Earth, sets its sights on Mars, leading to a saga that’s as British as it gets, complete with stiff upper lips and an alien workforce that quite literally bleeds for the Empire.

In the grand scheme of things, these attempts to sequelize The War of the Worlds reflect a creative audacity that’s as commendable as it is risky. Like trying to teach a Martian to enjoy a cup of tea, it’s an endeavor fraught with potential pitfalls but also ripe with the promise of something uniquely extraordinary. For readers of SFcrowsnest, these narratives offer a reminder that the universe of science fiction is a playground limited only by one’s imagination. Whether it’s through the lens of an anime film, or a comic series that captures the essence of steampunk imperialism, the spirit of The War of the Worlds continues to inspire creators to look beyond the horizon, to imagine not just the possibility of alien invasion, but the myriad ways humanity might rise to meet such a challenge, for better or worse.

In essence, the sequelization of The War of the Worlds is a testament to the enduring allure of Wells’ vision, a canvas that, despite its age, continues to inspire strokes of genius, missteps, and everything in between. It’s a reminder that in the world of science fiction, the war for creative innovation is an ongoing saga, one that welcomes all challengers, armed with pen, paper, and an undying love for the worlds beyond our own.


Colonel Frog is a long time science fiction and fantasy fan. He loves reading novels in the field, and he also enjoys watching movies (as well as reading lots of other genre books).

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