Bookish Giveaway & Review: War of the Worlds: Retaliation by Mark Gardner & John J. Rust

Scroll to the bottom for the giveaway!

Narrator: Samuel E. Hoke III

Publisher: Article94 (2017)

Length: 7 hours 38 minutes

Gardner’s Page ~ Rust’s Page

Starting in 1898 with the final throws of the Martian invasion, humanity is at a breaking point. However, the human bacteria prove deadly to the Martians and on mass, they die, leaving their advanced technology for the humans to scavenge. Skipping ahead to 1924, the world leaders have decided it’s time to take the fight to Mars and a massive invasion is launched.

I’m a fan of HG Wells’s works, including the original War of the Worlds. So of course I was thrilled to dive into a novel that told a story of what humans did afterwards. How does a failed Martian invasion change the course of humanity’s history? Gardner and Rust give a decent answer to that question.

I think this book would have extra interest to those who have studied WWI. There’s plenty of European and North American names to recognize in this novel such as Charles de Gaulle, Rommel, George Patton, and so on. You don’t have to be particularly knowledgeable about any of these historical figures to enjoy their characters in this tale. I was a bit surprised that the Asian countries weren’t represented at all. Also, since it was a world wide Martian invasion in 1898, I was initially hopeful to see how that great leap in tech affected many of the countries in Africa and South America. Alas, those continents are barely mentioned.

There’s plenty of great tech in this tale. First, I really enjoyed that some tested and true war machines of WWI were in this book, like the Fokker airplanes. There’s also some brand new vehicles made especially for the Martian invasion. However, I did notice that the physics of Mars was skimmed over when it came to actual battles.

Now, let me get out my little polished soap box. There is exactly 1 female character (Nurse Hill) in this entire book and she doesn’t appear until the last hour of the story and she isn’t plot relevant at all. There’s a few other ladies mentioned as wives or mothers. This pains me. Here we are in this fascinating science fiction novel that’s essentially about the survival of the species, and the women aren’t present. Sigh…

OK, so moving on. I loved that we got a look into Martian society through the Martian characters. Their society is suffering from stagnation and the inability for their leaders to admit that there’s a real threat coming from Earth. I really enjoyed watching the various Martians struggle with this.

The pacing of the story is good with strategy, reflection, and action all well intermingled. I never suffered from battle fatigue nor did I feel that the story bogged down here or there. As an aside, I liked that Hitler was receiving psychiatric help and was an exceptionally minor character in this book.

I received a free copy of this book via The Audiobook Worm.

The Narration: Samuel Hoke was a very good fit for this story. He performed several different accents as needed and was consistent with them throughout the story. Each character was distinct. 

What I Liked: We’re invading Mars!; fun technology; we get the Martian viewpoints; several historical figures make appearances; a worthy ending.

What I Disliked: Almost no women; Africa, Asia, and South America are barely mentioned; physics of Mars is skimmed over.

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About Author Mark Gardner:

Mark Gardner is a US NAVY veteran. He lives in northern Arizona with his wife, three children and a pair of spoiled dogs. Mark holds a degree in Computer Systems and Applications, and is the Chief Operator for an Arizona radio group.

Website ~ GoodReads ~ Twitter

About Author John J. Rust:

John J. Rust was born in New Jersey. He studied broadcasting and journalism at Mercer County Community College in New Jersey and the College of Mount St. Vincent in New York. He moved to Arizona in 1996, where he works as the Sports Director for an Arizona radio group.

Facebook ~ GoodReads ~ Twitter

Synopsis of War of the Worlds: Retaliation:

1898: Martian tripods lay waste to Earth’s cities. The world’s armies are unable to stem the tide of destruction. When all hope appears lost, common bacteria kills the alien invaders. From the ashes, the human race uses the technology left behind by the Martians to build new, advanced weapons.

1924: Armed with their own spaceships, tripods, and jet fighters, the nations of the world are ready to take the fight to Mars. George Patton, Erwin Rommel, Charles de Gaulle, and Georgy Zhukov lead their troops in battle across the red planet to end the alien menace once and for all. But the Martians have one last, desperate plan to try, and if successful, it could mean the end for all humanity.

Audible ~ Amazon

About Narrator Samuel Hoke III:

Samuel E. Hoke III is a 6’0″ Scorpio who summers in Virginia with his wife two amazingly wonderful black cats named Inca and Maya. In the winter they all head to central  Florida. Samuel is a veteran of the corporate world including IBM and Bank of America he now pursues his lifelong passion of acting.

Samuel has a Bachelors degree in Liberal Studies from Norwich University and an MBA in Global Technology Management from American University. He also conducted a Pre-Doctoral studies in Strategic Leadership at Cornell University. Samuel enjoys Rock and Roll music, photography, fast cars, and international travel.

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War of the Worlds Giveaway

Eye of the Apocalypse by Dylan James Quarles

QuarlesEyeOfTheApocalypseWhere I Got It: Kindle Unlimited

Publisher: Dylan James Quarles (2014)

Length: 427 pages

Series: Book 3 The Ruins of Mars

Author’s Page

Book 3 picks up right where Book 2, Waking Titan, left off. The AI brothers Remus and Romulus are still in the Martian construct (kind of like being trapped in the Matrix). Earth is recovering from the Pulse that killed so many.  Harrison Assad and crew are still trying to puzzle out the Martian ruins.

This was quite the ending to the trilogy! This book is nearly twice as long as the previous book, and I’m glad as there was plenty of ground to cover. The crew find a device and those that touch the device have meaningful yet strange reactions to it. Harrison, as the crew’s archaeologist, has a deep fascination with the ruins and the device, focusing on them even though there are more pressing concerns. His friend Ralph Marshall does his best to bring his friend out of his funk (a fellow crew member died in Book 2), but with the Pulse having caused so much damage back on Earth, it’s hard to be cheery about anything.

Captain Tatyana Vodevski probably has the hardest job in this book. Circumstances will arise that require her to consider mutiny against her supervisors back on Earth. She will lose more of her crew and one will go mad. She will have to undertake dangerous missions herself, but also allow her crew to undertake some as well. I definitely wouldn’t want to be Tatyana in this book, even tho she is a bad ass.

Dr. Elizabeth Kubba’s character arc for the entire series is one of the most fascinating. She’s not a total good guy but neither is she a total bad guy. She’s complex and that makes her very interesting. In Book 2 she made some choices that I totally disagreed with, so I was all set to have her be a big villain in Book 3. She surprised me!

Back on Earth, the politics continue to play out despite the world wide event created by the Pulse. One of the lead guys who put together the Mars mission finds out about a secret plot to send a manned spacecraft to take over the Mars station and the ruins. He finds a secret way to left Captain Vodevski know about it and then she has to make some hard decisions about how to handle it. Killbots! Freaking killbots folks! Like the team on Mars doesn’t have enough to deal with! We lose a few more crew members, some unexpectedly, and the group continues to splinter even more.

Then we have the AIs Remus, Romulus, and Braun trapped in the Martian construct, which is replaying out millions of years of history for them. Through these chapters, we learn how Martian society arose and about the alien Travelers that appeared. A religious cult arose to worship the Travelers and eventually became the governing body of Martian society. The AI brothers also learn how Martian society fell.

While I found those chapters interesting, I was worried that the story would take too much of turn towards magic or something spiritual that couldn’t be explained. I’ve really enjoyed the science base for much of this trilogy and a little of the unknown goes a long way. For the most part, now that I know the ending, I feel the author kept things grounded and that while there are some things beyond human knowledge at play here, most of the unexplained could be broken down by science eventually.

The end comes to a crescendo as three main points have to be resolved to not only save the Mars mission but also Earth. The last quarter of the book was difficult to put down (someone has to eat at some point!) and I felt the ending was quite satisfying. Remus, Romulus, and Braun are all trapped in the Construct and the big ship that brought the crew to Mars can’t make it home without an AI. There’s also a lone killbot on the surface of Mars that the ground crew have to deal with. Finally, all of humanity is concerned that there will be yet another Pulse that will wipe out what remains of Earth’s human society. It was quite the thing to see how the author brought it all together. Definitely a worthy trilogy!

What I Liked: Martian ruins; the AIs get to experience Martian history; Cpt. Vodevski has a tough job all around; Marshal and Harrison continue the bromance; Dr. Kubba’s character arc for the trilogy was a surprise;  killbots!; a very satisfying ending.

What I Disliked: Nothing – thoroughly enjoyable!

Waking Titan by Dylan James Quarles

QuarlesWakingTitanWhere I Got It: Kindle Unlimited

Publisher: Dylan James Quarles (2013)

Length: 260 pages

Series: Book 2 The Ruins of Mars

Author’s Page

 

This book picks up right where Book 1 (The Ruins of Mars) left off. The crew has many questions about the statues they discovered. Braun is mesmerized by the chamber and other readings he is picking up. Meanwhile, a crew member has an unexpected secret that could damage the dynamic of the crew and their mission. Remus and Romulus continue to explore the Construct, learning more about the ancient Martians.

I really enjoyed Book 1 and Book 2 does not disappoint. In fact, I enjoyed it even more. First, the ladies have many more responsibilities and page time in this book than in Book 1. It’s good to see the author taking advantage of these characters he took the time to create. Second, we finally have some death going on in this installment. That definitely added weight to the story. Now it’s that much more important to me as the reader that at least some of my heroes make it out of this adventure in tact.

The mystery definitely gets bigger. First, the statues found in the underground chamber clearly depict two kinds of beings. Since Remus and Romulus are still in the Construct (a kind of full sensory recording of Martian history that only they currently have access to), we readers know who the native Martians are and who the technologically advanced visitors are. But archaeologist Harrison Assad and the rest don’t know and can only speculate. In Book 1, they did some ground-penetrating radar and other scans, so they know there must be a way past this statue chamber into the larger underground complex. That becomes their main focus.

Meanwhile, Braun, the space ship’s AI, has become fascinated with the statue chamber. There are readings there that he can’t explain because he doesn’t have anything to compare them to. The senior officers of the expedition have the ability to override Braun’s internal orders, and one of those officers does just that. Unfortunately, this causes Braun some woe and some damage and that might explain, in part, some of his actions later on. These conflicting readings and orders have profound effects on Braun that no one anticipated.

The crew is starting to splinter apart as personal agendas and outside forces exert their influences. One of the crew members definitely has personal gain and prestige on her mind and that adds to negativity floating about in the crew quarters. Meanwhile, things are afoot back home on Earth. The politicians back home want to stay in charge of the mission, which is becoming more and more difficult as the crew make decisions that fit the circumstances and not necessarily their orders. And then this solar-system wide event happens that disrupts everything. Watching how both Earth and the Mars crew bounce back from that was quite entertaining.

This was an excellent read. There’s plenty going on and the characters are well developed. It was great to see that the ladies weren’t shelved and ignored as with Book 1. Definitely ready to jump into Book 3!

What I Liked: Mars!; plenty of mysteries for our crew to solve; Remus and Romulus are still in the Construct; there’s a bit of death and that adds weight to the story; politics are playing havoc; the solar-system wide event;  ready for Book 3!

What I Disliked: Nothing – thoroughly enjoyable!

 

The Ruins of Mars by Dylan James Quarles

QuarlesTheRuinsOfMarsWhere I Got It: Own it

Publisher: Dylan James Quarles (2013)

Length: 232 pages

Series: Book 1 The Ruins of Mars

Author’s Page

Set in a not too distant future, mankind is running out of resources. Mars is starting to look like a better and better bet for terraforming and the future of mankind. Two AIs, Romulus and Remus, are sent out to scan and map Mars from orbit. However, they make an unexpected discovery, one that fires the need to send a manned mission to Mars sooner rather than later.

This was a really enjoyable scifi adventure. Even though it has a few issues, I just thoroughly reveled in it. The pacing is really great, keeping the plot moving forward at all times. There’s a ton of interesting characters, and from so many walks of life (different ethnicities, sexual orientation, etc.). The major plot points were riveting – exploration on Mars, humanity’s dwindling resources at home, the huge, big mystery found on Mars. Then there is all the awesome tech. Yeah, you heard me. The author does a most excellent job of integrating futuristic tech into the story seamlessly.

So let’s get my few criticisms out of the way to make run for me to gush over how much I enjoyed this novel. First, the ladies. None are major characters and none are plot central for more than a glancing moment at a time. The men get to make all the decisions and have all the adventures. In fact, for the first third of the book, the only female characters are an AI named Alexandria and someone’s mum on vidphone conversation. Finally, about halfway through, there’s several more ladies tossed in and they are all highly qualified folks, so I had high hopes that some of them would have plot-central roles in the second half of the book. Alas, they all quickly fall into the background and are there to provide comfort and care as needed. So, obviously, that was my biggest disappointment with the book especially since they each held potential – each has their own personality and background. Honestly, the author knows how to write female characters, so I’m not sure why he underutilized them so extremely in this first book.

The rest of my criticisms are all minor and can be lumped together. There appeared to be little to no cross training among the personnel heading off to Mars, which struck me as odd. Apparently the Mars astronaut suits don’t have built in safety systems and become completely useless if the suit loses contact with the governing AI – again this seemed odd. Redundancy equals safety in outer space, after all. There’s a few other minor things like that, but you get the point.

Now, even with those flaws, this was a hell of a ride. The constant sense of anticipation and mystery were excellent. I was never bored with this book, never rushing ahead because I found this character or that scene boring. The timeline starts in 2044 and then jumps ahead to 2048 and then back and forth a little, showing how the manned mission got pulled together. I thought this was well done and I didn’t find it confusing at all. The chapters and subchapters are nicely time stamped to keep you all straight.

The tech is awesome. I love all the 3D imaging and various surfaces that can be used as touch sensitive computer screens. Then there’s the AIs. Oh yeah. Nicely done indeed! I really liked that there were various types of AIs created for different purposes and having different limitations and skill sets. This of course gave them individual personalities. First, there are the brothers Remus and Romulus who are each embodied in their own unmanned space satellite. They were created to go out and scan Mars, looking for and analyzing water and mineral sources. Alexandria is a kind of chatty world-wide info AI that can be accessed by most humans. Copernicus works with the Mars Project and the related agencies, like NASA. Donovan is the AI for the CIA (and he is just a tad spooky). The author also added in genetically modified food crops to be grown on Mars and also gene manipulation for the Mars astronauts to give them greater tolerances to extreme conditions. I felt that all the tech was plausible and well used in the story.

The caste is large but not unwieldy. It was great to see that the mission to Mars was a world effort. Tatyana Vodevski, Harrison Raheem Assad, Xao-Xong Liu, YiJay, Aguilar, Ralph Marshall, Vivianna Calise, Elizabeth Kubba, James Floyd, Julian Thomas, etc. As you can see, lots of personalities to mix it up with. If this ever goes to audiobook, the narrator will have to be skilled in numerous accents.

Then there is the big mystery on Mars discovered by Romulus and Remus. From the title of the book, you might have already guessed that something was found on Mars that no one was expecting. Folks back on Earth have a variety of responses to this. It’s not all flowers and swaying in a large circle. It was great to see such a realistic response from the mass of humanity to this discovery. So after this big discovery is made, the Mars manned mission gets additional funding and is rushed into being. Further discoveries are made and one was beyond what I expected but was excellently executed. Now, I can’t wait to jump into Book 2 to see what else our Mars astronauts stumble across!

 

What I Liked: Plenty of cool, plausible tech; the AIs in all their varieties; never a dull moment; folks from lots of different backgrounds; the big mystery on Mars; yet more mysteries to unravel.

What I Disliked: The ladies are highly underutilized, especially since they were set up so well; a few techy kind of things like why no cross training among the Mars astronauts and the lack of redundant safety systems.

What Others Think:

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