Cover Image: The Massacre of Mankind

The Massacre of Mankind

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Stephen Baxter is a marvel.  Not only can he write amazing original hard science fiction but he rocks these sequels to the classics.  Just like he did with The Time Ships, his authorized continuation of H. G. Wells's The Time Machine, here is his authorized sequel to War of the Worlds.  It is dark and bleak and horrifying but still thrilling.  I Loved it and have been and will continue to recommend to my sci-fi loving customers, along with all his other titles.
Was this review helpful?
I thought this started a little slow, but it picked up and I ended up really liking it. It's definitely a book I'd recommend.
Was this review helpful?
I really wanted to like this book, but for some reason it just never clicked for me. It was a struggle to continue through it. It’s not badly written, but seems to go on and on with nothing much happening, Disappointing.
Was this review helpful?
As you can tell by the title, The Massacre of Mankind by Stephen Baxter is not a feel good story. It is an estate-approved sequel to H.G. Wells' classic The War of the Worlds, telling the story of what happened after Earth repelled the martians.

I'm not giving anything away that the cover doesn't tell you when I say that the Martians are back. I felt at a serious disadvantage because I am not British - so many references, place names, and turns of phrase went completely over my head.

Those references felt a whole lot like filler, along with detailed descriptions of people traveling from one location to another, but so so little about the actual Martians. By around the 30 percent mark, I threw in the towel. If you are a huge fan of The War of the Worlds, this would be perfect for you. It wasn't perfect for me.
Was this review helpful?
The Massacre of Mankind: Authorised Sequel to The War of the Worlds by Stephen Baxter is a detailed followup about the Martian invasion of England.  It's a brutal story but easy to envision.  It is a long book and I believe much of it could have been edited out.  I still gave it four stars.

I received an advanced reading copy from Crown Publishing and NetGalley.  That did not change my opinion for this review.

Link to purchase:
Was this review helpful?
"The Massacre of Mankind" eBook was published in 2017 and was written by Stephen Baxter ( Mr. Baxter has published more than 30 novels. 

I categorize this novel as ‘R’ because it contains scenes of Violence. The story takes place some 14 years after the original "War of the Worlds". The British have learned much from the technology left behind by the Martian attack. 

When launches are seen on Mars once again, the British prepare to repel a new wave of Martians using all they learned in the first invasion. The martians though, have learned from the first invasion too. 

The primary characters of this story are continuing characters from the original, including Walter Jenkins. Britain is not the only target in this new assault. Soon the entire world is attempting to fight off the Martian onslaught. 

I thoroughly enjoyed the 13.5 hours I spent reading this 498 page alternate history and science fiction thriller. This is an authorized sequel to the original work and it has the right feel for the period - the 1920s. If you have read the original "War of the Worlds" and enjoyed it, you will want to read this sequel as well. I like the cover art selected. I give this novel a 4.7 (rounded up to a 5) out of 5.  

Further book reviews I have written can be accessed at 

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (
Was this review helpful?
This was a fun re-visit to one of my favorite stories! I was always curious what would happen if the aliens came back and this one didn't disappoint.
Was this review helpful?
"You still ain’t seeing it clearly. The Martians, you know, would say they are doing us a favor. Lifting us up, as if we made a chimp smart as a college professor. And who’s to say, by their lights, they are wrong? And – pain? What of it? You clever-clogs keep telling me the Martians are above us mere mortals. Perhaps, with their heads detached from their bodies, they are above pain as above pleasure. And what need they care about the pain they inflict on us? And more’n we care about the pain of the animal in the slaughterhouse – or the tree we cut down. To recoil from this is hypocritical – d’ye see?"

That’s Bert Cook, merely called “the artilleryman” in Walter Jenkins’ Narratives of the Martian Wars. Jenkins is the man we know as the unnamed narrator of H. G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds. Cook isn’t the only one to complain Jenkins misrepresented him in his account of the 1907 Martian invasion. That’s the year Baxter, after consulting the astronomical clues in Wells’ story and Wells scholars, places the time of Wells’ novel.

Julie Elphinstone, the narrator of this novel and a reporter presenting us a history of the Second Martian War, isn’t too pleased with Jenkins’ depiction of her either though, but at least she got a name and ended up married, briefly, to Jenkins’ brother, the Frank who supplies the London detail in Wells’ novel.

Walter’s history lead to fame and fortune and important government connections in an England that has militarized after 1907 in preparation for another invasion. (It’s also made the private ownership of telescopes illegal to clamp down on panic and stock market manipulation.)

But Walter’s increasing detachment from life and human society after the war irks Frank. Walter’s account ends with him holding Carolyne’s hand after they are reunited when the Martian invasion ends, but they didn’t stay married.

Baxter’s novel is many things: a thorough and complex mining of story resources from Wells’ novel, an alternate history, a continuation of Wells’ commentary on English society and colonialism, a story of war and occupation and collaboration, and a commentary on Wells and his legacy. It’s also a family story and not about Julie’s relatives but the human family and even the family of conscious life in the solar system.

Baxter alters Wells’ setting to bring in intelligent Jovians. (Martians landing on Venus gets mentioned at the end of Wells’ novel.) As he states in the book’s interesting afterword on scholarship and literature that fed into his story, Baxter used the obsolete “nebular hypothesis” theory of the solar system’s formation which had the most outlying planets as the oldest and, therefore, the civilization and power of the Jovians bests that of the Martians who best us.

In Baxter’s novel, the massacre of mankind doesn’t, ultimately, refer to just dead bodies struck down by the “black smoke” or “Heat Rays” of the Martians. It is about the massacre of man’s soul.

The story opens in 1920 on the eve of the Second Martian War.

Walter, with his access to government secrets on more launches of cylinders from Mars, tells Elphinstone, Frank, Bert Cook, and British Army officer Eric Eden that a new Martian landing will take place.

Cook, a celebrity after writing his Memoirs of an Artilleryman; Eden distinguished by actually spending some time in a Martian cylinder during the First Martian war, and Frank, now a medical officer in England’s home guard, the Fyrd, rush to the projected front. Julie goes to take care of her one-time sister-in-law.

A militarized England may have developed a defense plan, even salvaged Martian materials and weapons, but the Martians have learned too. No slow emergence from their cylinders, no opportunities given to be annihilated by a massed British response. They quickly overcome British resistance, and Julie and her sister-in-law end up as refugees in France, a France occupied in 1914 by the Germans in the Schlieffen War. This universe’s version of World War One still continues in 1920, and Russia and Germany (with covert British aid) are still battling it out.

Two years later, Juliet is recruited by Walter for a diplomatic mission to end the war of the worlds. Walter, like his friend Ogilvy the astronomer, one of the first in Wells’ novel to be killed by the Martians, thinks communication is possible between the man and Martian.

But the British government has other ideas, namely a weaponized version of what ended the First Martian War: bacteria lethal to Martians.

On the brink of another Martian landing, Julie is infiltrated into the Cordon, Martian-occupied Britain with the help of Eden.

There she meets Frank and Verity Bliss, an heroic, clear-sighted, volunteer nurse. They and others in scattered settlements live by permission of the roving Martian fighting machines. Man, to Martian, is a combination rat, ant, and beef on the hoof. They are only worth killing when they use some forbidden piece of technology, get underfoot or their blood is needed.

But, if the accommodations these people have made with the Martians disturbs Julie, it’s nothing compared to Bert Cook’s.

Far from the ineffectual blow-hard depicted by Jenkins, this Cook is a cunning, a far-sighted survivor whose detached views on humanity’s place in the cosmic order and its moral consequences form a sort of dark shadow to Walter’s.

It is this section, which includes a look at the humanoid Martian and Venusian foodstock the invaders brought with them and Martian experiments on human society and the reason for those experiments, that is the most memorable and powerful part of the book besides its concluding two chapters.

The mechanism of the climax was a bit unconvincing, if logical in terms of theme and the background Baxter established.

I think at least one of the chapters depicting the Martian landings in North America, Africa, Australia, and Asia could have been struck though most contribute to Wells’ theme of comparing European and Martian colonialism. The afterword confirms that some of them were also inspired by another War of the Worlds’ sequel, the Kevin J. Anderson-edited anthology War of the Worlds: Global Dispatches. (There are several hat tips to early science fiction writers throughout Baxter’s story.)

Those are minor quibbles. Baxter has not only paid close attention to his source material but written a compelling story both disturbing and poignant.

Definitely and highly recommended for admirers of Wells’ original novel.
Was this review helpful?
Science Fiction
What if the Martians came back? That is the premise of this sci-fi novel by Stephen Baxter, billed as an ‘authorised’ sequel to H. G. Wells’ War of the Worlds. The story opens 13 years after the end of Wells’ classic tale. I do recommend reading the original story prior to starting this one, if you haven’t done so recently. It really helps with understanding the relationships between people in this book, as Baxter’s story revives the same characters. While the narrator in War of the Worlds was never named, he appears here as Walter Jenkins, and it is his former sister-in-law, Julie Elphinstone, a journalist who was one of the two women Walter’s brother “rescued” in his 1907 escape from the Martians, who serves as the narrator in this one. It’s now 1920 and Walter reaches out to Julie and others from the Martian War to let them know he has learned the Martians are planning another invasion. Astronomers have seen the ominous signs, though the news is not yet public. When the cylinders arrive, Julie is again in London and is an eyewitness, again, to the destruction. The invaders have learned and adapted for this second attack, but as Julie learns, Earth’s governments and militaries have not been idle either. In an afterword, Baxter explains he draws on an “alternate history” in which the Great War as we know it did not occur; this gives him licence to play with historical events that add to the reader’s enjoyment as the plot unfolds. In this novel, Julie sails the Atlantic on the Lusitania (as it did not sink from a German torpedo), Lord Baden-Powell creates the Young Sappers instead of the Boy Scouts, and my favourite, King Edward’s marriage to Wallis Simpson does not result in an abdication. Yup, it’s Queen Wallis. I can see a whole Netflix series on that premise alone! Baxter remains faithful to Wells’ 1890s understanding and interpretation of astronomical science, in which life on Venus, Mars, and Jupiter are not only possible but in fact have developed much as it did on Earth. It takes effort to overcome this barrier, given our current understanding of our solar system’s creation and science. An engineer and sci-fi writer himself, Baxter’s significant research has created an homage that rings true to Wells’ writing style. Even the title is drawn from the original story, and Baxter expands on Wells’ work to develop characters that are lively, interesting, and honest. I particularly enjoy his historical references, his careful attention to geography, the detailed descriptions of the invasions and the military manoeuvering, and the nods to events of the day, though I could certainly have used less foreshadowing. It’s a device I particularly dislike. My thanks to Crown Publishing for the advance reader copy provided through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
More discussion and reviews of this novel:
Was this review helpful?
I was pretty excited to hear that one of my favorite authors was going to write an authorized sequel to one of the books that got me excited about science fiction as a young kid. War of the Worlds was one of those books I would reread at least once a year. Unfortunately, this sequel just didn't provide enough that was new and fresh to merit the wait and to merit this book's length. I see Goodreads listed it at 464 pages, but it felt like 600 + to me. 

Let me start off with what I did like about this book. I think Baxter did a good job at providing continuity between the original and this sequel. The novel's set up and the suspense before the invasion was very well done. I also enjoyed the alternative history take provided here, where England has turned into a quasi-authoritarian state, the first World War was never fought, and Martian technology has seeped into the world. I also liked the chapters that showed what was happening around the world during the second invasion, but I thought it was too little too late, which brings me to the story's problems. 

Really? Boring England again? Most of this story takes place in the exact same places that the invasion from War of the Worlds took place. I was looking for more exotic locales and perspectives, but they didn't happen until nearly the end of the book. The technology the Martians used was also pretty much the same tripod action as in the first book, and their tactics and motivations were pretty much identical as in the first one. The book just sort of dragged on and on with little to keep one interested in continuing. The action did pick up in the second half a bit, but I almost gave up before that. Sort of wish I had, because the ending was sort of blah as well. 

Thank you to Netgalley for the advance copy, this one was just sadly not for me.
Was this review helpful?
Just how much did you enjoy assigned and suggested reading in high school? I hated it. I thought, as a mature woman with eclectic tastes in books, that I might actually enjoy a blast from the past. I was wrong. This book induced the same reading coma I experienced as a teenager bound to impress teachers with my willingness to read every single book they suggested or demanded. Sheesh. This book is just as boring as the original. I was obligated to finish since the book was a gift from the publisher, you are not! My advise? Just say NO! I have nothing else to say.

Was this review helpful?
I received a copy of The Massacre of Mankind: Authorised Sequel to The War of the Wolds (The War of the Worlds #2) from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

                Baxter is back again with another sequel from H.G. Wells (his other one being a follow up to the Time Machine). Many fans were split on how they felt about this. Some loved it, some less so. Regardless of whether or not you enjoyed it, I would like to point out just how much effort Baxter put into researching the previous work and all the notes that went along with it.

                If you’re reading this review, you’ve probably read War of the Worlds as well. Or at least are ok with getting spoilers about it (or so I should hope). The Massacre of Mankind is written much like War of the Worlds, in the style of a surviving writing a novel about what they experienced.

                In this novel, the perspective switches to a side character from the original; Julia Elphinstone. As before, it’s clear right from the start that humanity survived the attacks from other worlds (because how else would somebody be writing the story?). The how and why humanity survived is less obvious; clerly we’re meant to finish the book to understand that part (which makes sense). Even this simple choice is an ideal hat-tip towards H.G. Wells’ story. History is heavily altered, similar to the way it was in War of the Worlds, to fit the narrative and invasion to the timeline desired.

                I mentioned above that I felt that Baxter had done extensive research and note taking for this book. Unfortunately I also felt that this fact got in his way. There were times where I felt that facts were being thrown at me, simply to prove that they were known. It disrupted the flow and ultimately kept me from immersing myself in the novel in the way I would have preferred. I also felt that there was much more name throwing this time around than beforehand. I’m unsure if this was an intentional change, or yet another symptom of trying to prove what facts were known.

                The other factor I found jarring was the nitpicking of many characters against the book written by Walter Jenkins (and thus the War of the Worlds we’ve all read). It felt like this was the author’s way of picking away at H.G. Wells’ writing. Perhaps I am misinterpreting the intent here, but that is still how it came off to me. Which I found to be odd; considering one would assume he had great love and respect for both War of the Worlds and H.G. Wells.

                All in all I found this to be a very respectable attempt at a follow up to War of the Worlds. I was hoping to enjoy it more than I did, but on the bright side I never found myself angered or upset by it either (which is significantly better than some series fare when another author takes over).
Was this review helpful?
The Massacre of Mankind: Sequel to The War of the Worlds by Stephen Baxter is a recommended estate-authorized sequel to H.G. Wells’s The War of the Worlds.

Set in the early 1920s, it has been thirteen years since the Martians invaded England. When it is announced that the Martians have launched another, much larger invasion, humans are sure we can defeat them again, with the exception of one man, Walter Jenkins (the unnamed narrator of Wells' book). Jenkins is sure that the Martians have learned, adapted, and understood their defeat so they will be prepared this time. Referring to the first book, Walter is often called out as a liar and an unreliable witness by those characters who appeared in the first book. A journalist, Julie Elphinstone, the former sister-in-law of Jenkins, reports most of the action in the narrative to the reader as she tells the story of the second invasion. She witnesses the first wave of Martians landing outside of London. The world is watching for the subsequent invasive Martian forces to land around the world.

The good news is that Martians are still terrifying. The first Martian invasion changed history, thus in this alternate history universe, Britain is a fascist state, Germany rules much of Europe, and the Titanic never sank. You will recognize historical figures but now in different contexts. While this is an interesting take on a second invasion, it has a slow start and I'll admit that keeping my undivided attention during the whole novel was a challenge. It felt overly long, perhaps it was the writing style, but I also didn't connect to any of the characters. We know right from the start that this account is Elphinstone's memoir so we know the outcome of the war, which removes some of the sense of urgency and tension. She is also not an entirely sympathetic narrator. 

Finally, Baxter's choice to write in the style of H.G. Wells, no offense to Wells,  didn't quite work for me in this case. The descriptions are complex and noteworthy, but I guess I wanted a more action-packed terror-filled novel. Parts of it met this description, but the totality of The Massacre of Mankind missed the mark as a sequel to the classic science fiction novel. It is certainly good, but not great. Hard core fans of The War of the Worlds will likely want to read this, but it will not quite live up to the original.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Crown/Archetype.
Was this review helpful?
Written by Stephen Baxter. THE authorized sequel to Well's War of the Worlds. What more do you need to know to grab this book and read it? Ah, you are skeptical. Well, this time the Martians attack globally, the hero is a heroine, the real bad guy turns out to be the sun, the plot expands to include the entire solar system and thousands of years of history, a few new aliens are tossed in for good measure, and you are left with a cliff-hanger which all but guarantees a follow on book. Not another classic, but definitely a good read.
Was this review helpful?
I received a free Kindle copy of The Massacre of Mankind by Stephen Baxter courtesy of Net Galley and Crown, the publisher. It was with the understanding that I would post a review on Net Galley, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and my book review blog. I also posted it to my Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google Plus pages.

I requested this book as I am a fan of the original War of the Worlds and the description sounded interesting. I have read a few books by Stephen Barnes.

I should know by now that trying to write a sequel to a classic like War of the Worlds a century later is not a good idea. Baxter writes in the style of H. G. Wells, but does not capture the imagination or make the characters interesting. It is sluggish throughout with no section that gives one hope that it will improve. It does not help that this sequel is four times the length of the original. I debated between one or two stars for this book and decided to be kind and give it two.

I can't really recommend this book to anyone, but I highly recommend that you read the original War of the Worlds if you have not.
Was this review helpful?
I loved this book.  Being a fan of the original War of the World's, I found this book a perfect sequel.
Was this review helpful?
The Massacre of Mankind begins more than a decade after the end of the original War of the Worlds, when the Miss Elphinstone who appears in the original novel, is a reporter in the US. She is summoned by her former brother-in-law Walter (the narrator of the original novel) to Berlin. History has much changed as a result of the original invasion. WWI did not happen, since when Germany started invading their neighbours, including France, the rest of the world was not inclined to fight back after rebuilding from the Martian war.

The reason for the summons is that a new fleet has been launched from Mars. Instead of one canon shooting cylinders, now there are ten, shooting even more of their vessels. And the Martians learned from their previous failed invasion, so while the military expects the same timeline as the previous invasion, they are quickly overwhelmed by the new tactics. The Martians are able to set up a foothold in England, with people trapped inside the zone of control, making do with their situation, while the people outside work on coming up with a new biological weapon. This is followed by a second wave that spreads out from England, with snippets about the invaders hitting the US, South Africa, Germany, and other parts of the world. The new, female, narrator becomes an integral part of the attempt to stop the Martians from taking over the entire world.

While the original novel feels rather dated, the new novel was fantastic, while preserving the feel of the original (including the ridiculous ideas about the evolution of the solar system). The change to a female narrator gives a different slant on the story, since sexism. Beyond her, there are other strong women, heroic characters, characters that are anything but. And the ending wraps things up, while leaving everything on a note of uncertainty that means that if there is room for a follow-up, but if none appears, we have a satisfying ending.
Was this review helpful?
As he did with The Time Machine, Baxter has taken H.G. Well's classic War of the Worlds and continued the story with whit, charm and, in keeping with Well's outlook, provided a rich fast paced story to entertain and possibly make you think.  We see all the action through the eyes of a woman, once related to the chronicler of the first Martian invasion, and this is a fresh twist on the Victorian adherence to only men in the lead.  I've been reading Stephen Baxter for years and he rarely disappoints, and that goes twice for this romp.  Get it!
Was this review helpful?
A very special thanks to NetGalley for providing me with a free ARC  of this book.

 I was very excited when I heard there was going to be an official sequel to War of the Worlds. I have to say I'm a bit disappointed after finishing this book. 

  I enjoyed the writing style, and I felt that the author did his best to tie this book into the original novel. A few unnamed characters from the original book make an appearance, including the original narrator, now called Walter. I was not happy about how he was represented, as an extremely eccentric and broken person. Part of this is understandable, but other characters don't suffer the same level of shell shock.

  The book felt a bit bloated with chapters where nothing at all seems to happen. Most chapters are very short too. 

   I did like how the universe was expanded to include other races. There is a decent amount of world building which sets this new narrative in an alternate historical universe. There were also some extremely well written action sequences that depict the true horror of a full scale global conflict.

  I also felt the ending was a bit of a cop-out. The author even says as much in his text. Overall I may have had my expectation level set too high. I would be interested in a further expansion of this universe.
Was this review helpful?
Baxter’s sequel to H.G. Wells’ classic is at once a continuation of the original story, a meta-critique of that novel, and an alternate history that plays with the many theories of life in the solar system that were circulating in Wells’ time. This time, Julie Elphinstone – a supporting character in War of the Worlds – is the protagonist and narrator. She introduces herself a journalist and former sister-in-law of the original nameless Narrator of War of the Worlds, here called Walter Jenkins. She indicates from the beginning that her narrative of the second Martian war is compiled from her own experiences and from other reports collected from around the globe fallowing the conclusion of the war. From the beginning, it is made clear that humans have managed to prevail again, leaving the “what” and the “how” for the reader to discover.
Despite some distracting post-modern affectations, such as the constant critiquing of Jenkins’ (meaning Wells’) original narrative of the first Martian war, and the incessant name dropping of famous historical figures and their actions during both wars, Elphinstone’s story is fairly riveting through the first two thirds or so, but Baxter makes a critical mistake in detouring from the tale just as the “solution” to the second invasion is about to present itself. Elphinstone takes us on a world tour of the war’s events, leaving us in a state of excruciatingly protracted suspense, while introducing us to a mostly entirely new cast of characters, with even more celebrity name dropping and alt-history shenanigans, before bringing us back around for a rather anti-climactic finale. I appreciate Baxter’s willingness to expand the borders of this interplanetary war beyond the shores of Great Britain, but I think he badly mishandled the execution in this case. The denouement is also overlong, though it makes a few interesting observations and is not lacking for poignancy.
The Massacre of Mankind is, at times, a worthy sequel to Wells’ classic, but falls a little short of the greatness is aspires to.
Was this review helpful?