_____. Operation Crimson Storm: War of Two Worlds, Book Two. Borgo Press, February 2011, 220 pp. $14.99, trade paperback. ISBN-10: 1434412253, ISBN-13: 978-1434412256
_____. The Martians Strike Back!: War of Two Worlds, Book Three. Borgo Press, February 2011. 206 pp. $14.99, trade paperback. ISBN-10: 1434412458, ISBN-13: 978-1434412454
H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds (1898) remains one of the most frequently reproduced narratives in modern literature. As print book, comic book, ebook, radio play, teleplay, and screenplay the story has been told and re-told throughout the past century—with results ranging from the superb to the near-idiotic. Robert Reginald’s War of Two Worlds rests securely on the ‘superb’ side of the spectrum as an adaptation/updating of Wells’ visionary masterpiece, bringing the well-worn tale of horror and hope into the twenty-first century. Incorporating not only Wells’ general outline of interplanetary war but even snippets of Well’s incomparable prose, Reginald nonetheless manages to make the oft-told story come alive, transferring locales to contemporary California; retaining many of Wells’ typically universal characters while simultaneously giving them depth and interest as individuals; expanding on such themes as community, communication, and the essence of humanity; and blending Wells’ seriousness of purpose with his own trademark humor and forthrightness. The result is a narrative that stays true to the power and imagination of Wells’ original and serves as the bedrock for further explorations of the urge to warfare and the unknown limits of space itself.* * * * *
About: Operation Crimson Storm“Where are the Martians?”
“Who are the Martians?”
“Where do we go from here?”
These are the questions that haunt Alexander Smith as Earth forces initiate the second phase in the War of Two Worlds…the invasion of Mars itself. Commencing several years after the action narrated in War of Two Worlds, this second volume in Robert Reginald's Invasion! trilogy moves readers from the familiar locales of Southern California to the arid, frigid, unknown and ultimately unknowable reaches of the Red Planet. With his interactions with the Martians—particularly one Smith refers to as “Big Guy”—increasingly frequent, complex, and perplexing, Smith finds himself part-prisoner, part-guest, and part-guinea pig in his incessant attempts to understand and communicate. Technical difficulties inherent in mounting military actions, transporting personnel across vast distances of interplanetary space, and dealing with the perpetual permutations of the Martian threat intertwine with the intensely personal and private concerns of Smith as observer, commentator, and participant, resulting in a story that intrigues on multiple levels.
Expanding far beyond Wells’s original conception in The War of the Worlds, reminiscent of Stanley Weinbaum’s 1934 masterpiece “A Martian Odyssey” without being overtly derivative, Operation Crimson Storm again and again confronts readers with the realities of life on Mars in the form of landscapes, artifacts, and consequences of actions against the natives, without ever truly discovering clues as to their meaning. The failure to understand anything the Martians are and do frustrates both Smith as narrator and the reader, impelling the story on by holding out the hope of someday unraveling mysteries, interpreting communications, and penetrating the perpetual enigmas of life…both earthly and alien.
Throughout the volume Reginald continues his trademark voice—clear, direct, and humorous Names of characters double as homages to novelists, short story writers, poets, even publishers of science fiction over the past decades, adding to the immediacy and the texture of the book while enhancing its depth by the aptness of many of the allusions. Alexander Smith himself demonstrates the universal vision of an Alexander and the anonymous individuality of a Smith. Similarly, moments of technological intricacy balance deftly constructed conversations among individuals. Rigid rationality balances authentic emotion. And throughout ring echoes of Smith’s unending questions:
“Where are the Martians?”“Who are the Martians?”
“Where do we go from here?”
* * * * *About: The Martians Strike Back!
To extend and complete one of the most respected and well-known narratives in science-fiction literature, H. G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds;
To explore commonalities that might possibly exist between humanity and the truly alien;
To define the essence of being truly human and being uniquely ‘other’;
To communicate that which cannot be communicated;
In a phrase, to express the ineffable.
Throughout the first two volumes of Invasion!: Earth vs. the Aliens, Robert Reginald adroitly captures the movement, the power, and timelessness of Wells’ original narrative, updated it, and finally brought the War back to the Martians. In volume three, The Martians Strike Back, he brings the conflict between peoples, between species, between planets to a resounding conclusion that is at once acceptably concrete and believably fragile. Peace between two worlds cannot come easily, especially since the conflicts between them have persisted for literally millions of years; and new-comer humanity may not be quite prepared for the perceptual shifts, the revisions of history, the expansions of understanding that will be required to accomplish it. Alexander Smith, indefatigably seeker after truth and meticulous observer of events, suddenly finds himself and his family—and his Martian counterpart, Big Guy—at the center of attempts to mollify factions on Earth and on Mars that seem intent on war, threatening mutual destruction. And when the specter of a third and far more threatening race is added into the mix, Smith must make decisions and accept the consequences of actions that threaten his family, his sanity, his very life.
Part techno-thriller, part traditional science fiction, part commentary on humanity and human society, part quintessential human comedy, Invasion! promises much and delivers even more. It leads readers carefully through mazes of possibilities, constantly overturning expectations and revealing yet more unanticipated potentialities, until a successful outcome seems almost unattainable…and then with stunning imagination, there is hope, clarity, and ultimately, resolution both surprising and inevitable. Alexander Smith, bowing to necessity, discovers the way. And as the Martians would say, “May you know your way, and may it be One.”