The Map of the Sky

The Map of the SkyThe Map of the Sky
by: Felix J. Palma

(Victorian/Science Fiction)

591 pages [Hardcover]

H.G. Wells is once again pulled into all manner of danger and adventure when the events in his novel, The War of the Worlds, begin happening around him.

I’m really becoming a fan of Felix J. Palma. The Map of Time was pretty awesome and The Map of the Sky is just as good. While his novels can feel a little long and drawn out at times, the payoff at the end makes it all worthwhile.

This time, I was prepared and read The War of the Worlds beforehand. With The Map of Time, not much of H.G. Wells’ novel factored into the story, other than the subject of time travel, and the machine itself. With The Map of the Sky, having The War of the Worlds fresh in your memory will make the story that much more fun. I won’t tell you how, exactly, but I think it’s worth it.

I was pleasantly surprised to see characters from The Map of Time show up in this novel. It was nice to spend some more time with them and watch as they faced the horrors of alien invasion. There is also something wonderfully fun about H.G. Wells being an unlikely hero. There were some surprising twists and turns, which I have come to expect from Mr. Palma, and the way it all turned out, in the end, wrapped things up well but left me thinking. I love it when a book leaves you with a little nugget of something to ponder over. I’m very much looking forward to The Map of Chaos, and I’ll be reading The Invisible Man first in preparation. Until next time…

Happy Reading!
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Comments on Classics: The War of the Worlds

Comments on Classics posts often contain spoilers,
so go read the book first and then come back. It’s ok, I’ll wait.

Comments on Classics

The War of the Worlds – 1898 – H.G. Wells

In a nutshell:
Martians invade England with plans to take over the world.

I was reading Felix J. Palma’s The Map of the Sky recently and thought it was about time I read H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds. Mr. Palma seems to be getting me to read a lot of Wells’ work lately, The Invisible Man will be coming up soon in anticipation of The Map of Chaos.

The first two-thirds of the story read like a victorian disaster novel. This part wasn’t as interesting to me since I’ve seen the modern equivalent plenty of times with the usual mass panic, running, and destruction. However, at the time, it must have been riveting.

The last third, however, was the most interesting. I find the psychology of people surviving in a post-apocalyptic world to be fascinating. What do you do? How do you handle it? The narrator’s time trapped in a house with a good view of what the Martian’s were doing, and his conflict with his cumbersome curate companion were the most illuminating. The narrator managed to hold it together while the religious man fell apart. I suppose that might happen when you’re presented with something you can’t fit into your beliefs in a positive way. The proximity to the Martians gave us such wonderful information about their anatomy, how they fed on human blood, and how they might have evolved on their own world. It was very well thought out.

When the Martians dominate the planet, humans are reduced to prey, scurrying for cover like rabbits. The suggestion that the Martians will learn to domesticate humanity, the way we have domesticated cattle and the like, was as frightening as it was practical.

In the end, humanity was useless in stopping the threat, but bacteria, something we think of as so much less worthy than ourselves, managed to wipe out the invading force. We’ve convinced ourselves of our own superiority, but how strong are we really? Supposedly, Wells wrote this story in response to the colonization of the time, turning the tables, and highlighting the horrors of such a fate. Like all good science fiction novels, it makes you think. Until next time…

Happy Reading!

Comments on Classics: The Chronic Argonauts

Comments on Classics posts often contain spoilers,
so go read the book first and then come back. It’s ok, I’ll wait.

Comments on Classics

The Chronic Argonauts – 1888 – H.G. Wells – Short Story

In a nutshell:
A mad scientist builds a time machine in a rural Welsh village.

Before he wrote The Time Machine, H.G. Wells penned The Chronic Argonauts, another time-traveling tale. I only became aware of this story because it was briefly mentioned in Felix J. Palma’s The Map of Time. Naturally, I looked it up to see if it was real. It’s actually a pretty good story, but sadly there is very little time travel in it. The story mostly focuses on the build up of the strange Doctor Nebogipfel (great name by the way) and his occupation of a house with a violent history. Within this house, he performs strange experiments that involve odd lights and noises which frighten the locals and ultimately cause them to turn on him.

The reader doesn’t get to see much of his experimentation or the construction of the time machine and I wish there was a lot more there. I’d love to follow Nebogipfel’s struggle, being a man ahead of his time, unlocking the secrets of time travel.

The actual time travel in the story is brief and related by a secondary character after the fact, and there is very little detail there either. It seems the most interesting parts of the story were glossed over rather quickly. I want to know more about what happened in the years 4003, 17, 901 and 2. Mention of the abduction of a ward and assaults on public officials is hardly enough information in my opinion. Although, then it wouldn’t be a short story anymore. I feel like there is an opportunity here for an experienced author to fill in the blanks of this lesser-known story. If done well, it could be really awesome.

The final thing that struck me, as I was re-reading a bit before writing this post, was how much, by the end, Dr. Nebogipfel reminded me of Doctor Who. He seemed lonely and even suggested the reverend be his companion on his travels. Something about that had that lonely Doctor vibe to me.

If you have an interest in H.G. Wells, an interest in Victorian science fiction, or you are simply curious about this story, you can read it here for free. Until next time…

Happy Reading!

The Map of Time

The Map of Time by Felix J. PalmaThe Map of Time

By: Felix J. Palma

www.FelixJPalma.es

(Steampunk/Time Travel/Victorian)

This novel follows the stories of three characters who each encounter the possibility of time travel in their own ways. While presided over by a mysteriously omniscient narrator, their paths overlap, with a skeptical H.G. Wells at the center. The story is woven together quite nicely in this way, and I enjoyed their individual perspectives on the subject and the occasional comments and interjections by the narrator.

While the story is about time travel, it is more about the questions posed by the possibility of it, and the implications such an ability would have, rather than the act of doing so. Could you change the past? Could you leave a dull present for an adventurous future? What affects the fabric of time? Each character struggles with these questions and their experiences greatly effect the choices they make as well as their understanding of the world around them.

Overall, this story was not exactly what I expected it to be, but was certainly not disappointing. The author had me fooled over and over again, leading the story in one direction, then changing it abruptly. This kept things interesting, since the story did have its fair share of slower parts, but in the end, I felt that these portions were necessary to really appreciate the characters. It’s largely the end of the story, the last hundred pages or so, where things really pick up and get interesting.

Sometimes, when reading a particular book, I’ll notice a few quirks of the author’s writing style, or a random but interesting detail. Here are my observations:

The author had a tendency to start at least half of his sentences with “and” for some reason, often when it didn’t seem to help the flow. He also used the word “atavistic” quite a few times. This detail is probably only interesting to me, but my exact birthday was used on page 535, down to the year, which was a little surprising.

This book may not have been the Steampunk adventure I had anticipated, but it was still very much worth reading. I’d recommend it to anyone interested in Steampunk or Victorian-Era fiction. Until next time…

Happy Reading!