About a year ago, I got to thinking about H.G. Wells’s novel The War of the Worlds, and more specifically about its adaptations. The most famous is, of course, Orson Welles’s 1938 radio play, which panicked a number of listeners who didn’t realize that it was a work of fiction, but there have also been two major motion pictures, a short-lived tv series, any number of knock-offs and unofficial sequels dating back very nearly to its publication*, and a rock opera from the 1970s which I seriously cannot recommend strongly enough.
What most of these unfortunately have in common is that they downplay the original’s commentary on colonialism. So I got to thinking: what if a modern adaptation retained this commentary, but updated it? In Wells’s day, colonialism was a fairly straightforward business: you landed in someone else’s country with a battery of Gatling guns and announced that you were “introducing Western civilization.” These days, however, it tends to be a great deal more insidious (if, on the whole, less bloody). What if the Martians, instead of immediately mowing everyone down with a heat ray, instead declared that they wanted to “modernize the Earth’s economy?”
Well, I’m very pleased to announce that I have now written and sold this story, and that it will be appearing in the anthology Second Contacts, coming soon from Bundoran Press!
*The only one of these that I have read is a serialized 1898 American novel about a fictionalized version of Thomas Edison getting revenge for the Martian attack by flying to Mars and basically killing everyone there. Surprisingly, this story appears to have been the origin of several now-well-worn tropes in science fiction, such as battles in space, handheld disintegrator rays, asteroid mining, and the idea that aliens built the pyramids. It’s not very well-written, but then, not everyone can be H.G. Wells.