Friday, February 13, 2009

Forgotten Books: SHERLOCK HOLMES'S WAR OF THE WORLDS -- Manly W. Wellman & Wade Wellman

If you've wondered exactly what role did Sherlock Holmes play in the war with the Martians, here's your answer. Professor Challenger's on board, too. How did Holmes and Challenger know an invasion was coming? How did they survive the occupation of London? How did they capture an alien invader? What was the reason for the Martian landings, and what was the fatal flaw in the Martian plan for conquest? All these questions, and a few others are answered in this book.

You don't have to be familiar with Wells's novel or the Holmes and Challenger tales (not to mention de Maupassant's Diary of a Madman) to enjoy this book, but the more you know, the more fun you'll have, I think. Originally the several parts of the novel appeared as separate stories in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, so this is a fix-up novel, but it's fixed up very well.

I have no idea what Holmesian scholars made of this book when it appeared, but Holmes is certainly not the guy I thought he was. His relationship with Mrs. Hudson is, well, surprising. Almost as surprising as the fact that Holmes quotes Keats and reads de Maupassant in French. It's all in fun, though. Check it out.

16 comments:

David Cranmer said...

Now that's an interesting combination.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Darn you come up with the most interesting choices. Heard of them but not the book.

Patrick Shawn Bagley said...

I love Manly Wade Wellman's "Silver John" stories, but I hadn't heard of this book. Sounds good.

Have you read Estleman's SHERLOCK HOLMES VS. DRACULA? That was a fun read, even though I kept thinking "I can't believe I'm reading a book with this title."

Randy Johnson said...

I have this one. I'm somewhat of a Sherlock Holmes nut anyway(in addition to just being one in general) and have a great many of the pastiches, adding to them as often as possible.

ARCHAVIST said...

There have been loads of absurd Holmes story but this is the first time I've heard of such a combination.

Bill Crider said...

The Estleman book was the first Holmes pastiche I recall reading.

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

I might have to track down this book as well.

Iren said...

I am a bit of a fan of Manly Wade Wellman's "Silver John" stories, and really dig the Hoyt Axton tune The Devil which was written for the film version of Silver John from the early 70s. I always thought that Wellman was simply a backwoods Lovecraft, but I guess not.

Bill Crider said...

Wellman wrote a straight mystery novel, too. I guess I'll have to mention that one eventually.

Fred Blosser said...

I think Wellman wrote a little bit of everything. There's one account (I forget where I read it -- maybe on this blog) that William Faulkner got miffed because Wellman beat him out one year for a "best story" award from EQMM. I wish someone would reprint Wellman's late-career novels about Guitar John and John Thunstone that Doubleday published in the '80s.

Bill Crider said...

Me, too.

Iren said...

by the way, anyone who wants to check out a very cool peice of Wellman inspired art can bop over to http://7deadlysinners.typepad.com/sinners/tom_bagley/ ... check out the aug 24th of 2008 post.

sonny said...

what's the difference between the 2 authors (manly w. and wade)? i've only heard of one of 'em, but i'm not sure which one ;)

Toby O'B said...

I read this back when it first hit the racks, and all I can remember now from it was the sub-plot concerning Mrs. Hudson.

Proof that Wellman could write horror.... LOL

Bill Crider said...

The relationship is father & son.

Todd Mason said...

Wade, the son, hasn't published too much aside from this collaboration with his father, who was indeed Far more than a "backwoods Lovecraft..." or than a Lovecraft of any description.

Fred, I might've been the one who raised the Faulkner tantrum over Wellman's win here, unless Bill had reason to earlier.

With this and Philip Jose Farmer's Vonnegut pastiches of sorts, the 1970s might've been the height of this kind of thing in F&SF (particularly when one considers the Sterling Lanier attempts to channel Kersh, et al.).