Saturday, December 15, 2012
Review: The Map of the Sky by Felix J. Palma
Herbert George Wells intends to meet the American writer who wrote a sequel to War of the Worlds and Wells intends to give Serviss a large piece of his mind. Wells is livid at not only how it was done but also that Serviss turned his book into a showcase for American excess. When Wells and Serviss meets, the American excites Wells’ passions and his curiosity in a different way, a way that ends with an inebriated Wells being led to London’s Museum of Natural History to see a real Martian spacecraft and a dead Martian. An accident, a cut, and a drop of blood fuel a new trilogy of stories that begins in Antarctica and ends with a Martian invasion. As with The Map of Time when Felix J. Palma used H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine as the basis of his trilogy of tales, once again Palma goes to Wells to find inspiration for The Map of the Sky.
Not content with using Wells as his only inspiration, Palma adds Edgar Allan Poe, The Thing from Outer Space (also known as The Thing, a 1950s science fiction tale of horror), and a bit of Jules Verne to the mix. It seems there are no stories, writers, or movies that will not be used to fuel Palma’s trilogies, and yet The Map of the Sky is still fresh, if a bit over written in the Victorian style.
As soon as I realized the genesis of the first part of this trilogy came from the movie, The Thing, I expected a rehash of the movie. What I found was a fresh viewpoint and characters, although some retained the original names, although the story was set in Antarctica instead of the Arctic. Though there were no planes, flame throwers, or electricity, Palma managed to dispatch the alien with dynamite—and then stopped dead and rewrote the ending so that the Martian would end up in the London museum for Wells to awaken. Sheer guts and a bit of genius changed my mind, and I continued to read.
The Map of the Sky is a heady stew of the familiar spiced with eccentricity and Victorian excess that is sure to thrill, chill, and enchant.