Review: The Martian in the Wood, Stephen Baxter, 2017.
This novella is a pendant on Baxter’s The Massacre of Mankind.
Like that novel, it’s told by Julie Elphinstone, ex-sister-in-law of Walter Jenkins, the man we know as the narrator of The War of the Worlds.
Besides references to that novel, Baxter works in another work by Wells and uses the concept of an old forest as a repository of memory similar to Mythago Wood (a novel I know only by reputation) by Robert Holdstock to whom the story is dedicated.
On July 7, 1907, as Jenkins is wandering about the ruins of London with its Martians dead in their tripods, another Martian cylinder lands in Homburgh Wood, an ancient forest untouched by the last glaciation of England.
The story depicts the effects of having a Martian in Holmburgh, particularly on Nathan Gardner, an orphan of the war who was nearby when the Martian landed. The increasingly long time he spends in the wood, often returning after weeks looking haggard and bedraggled, concerns his sister Zene. Nearby farmers are concerned with the dearth of wildlife and strange weather. When a local man disappears, things come to a head with Zena and Jenkins heading into the wood to see what’s going on. Continue reading “The Martian in the Wood”