It started, as many ideas do, somewhere else entirely. I was struggling with the story I really want to (and will eventually) tell; the story of my grandfather during and after World War I. I was stuck again and decided that I needed to get a few other stories under my belt before I could tell one that was so personally meaningful.
As I was casting around for ideas, I came across a reference to The War Of The Worlds, which is something one often does. It’s one of science fiction’s ur-Stories. It’s not the first but often feels like it is and it’s everywhere.
So I quite naturally (for me, anyway) starting wondering what would happen if the Martians showed up at the Somme in 1916. In Wells’ story, the aliens take a peaceful English countryside by surprise. What about a war-torn Europe, with heavily militarized Germany already on the battlefield and loaded for bear, and the English ready to conduct one of the largest and longest bombardments in history?
This is already a fun concept just a few sentences in, but there are a couple of problems. One of them is that limiting the book to the Western Front of WWI makes for more of a short story or novella, like the original story. While the original WOTW is a great story, it never really felt like a war of the Worlds since it’s limited to just England. I need a larger scope. Do I broaden the setting, maybe to the Eastern Front?
But the bigger issue is how do I get there? I am comic book fan, and I like continuity. While there have been some interesting takes and follow ups to WOTW, most of them ignore the original. I wanted to fix that too. Can I connect World War I to the original invasion somehow?
One of the most famous follow-ups to WOTW is the Orson Welles’ production for Halloween in 1938 with the Mercury Theater. Welles set the invasion in Grovers Mill, New Jersey in 1938. The show was done as a serious of radio new reports and allegedly scared the crap out of a lot of listeners, although some historians claim that that part of the story has been exaggerated.
What if the Martians landed at Grovers Mill in 1897 (when the book was first serialized,) at the same time they landed in England?
What would have happened to the world after the invasion? We’re still feeling the political fallout of 9/11 sixteen years later. What the would the political landscape look like after a failed alien invasion? Would there even be a World War I?
Now I was on to something!
The first entry in my series is available as a free ebook right now. It’s a short story that weighs in at 65 – 80 pages depending on your e-reader.