Thursday, March 23, 2017

“Read a Damn Book – 015: Martian-American War”

Full disclosure: the book that I’m about to review was written and drawn by friends of mine. Hopefully, I have enough integrity to be objective. We’ll see if that’s the case...

Daniel T. Foster & Michael J. King – Martian-American War (2005)

Martian-American War is an illustrated short story in the “dime novel” style (text with illustrations). Dan Foster spins this yarn, which reminds me of a classic pulp adventure in the Edgar Rice Burroughs’ vein. Meanwhile, Michael King, who drew the line art, seems to be channeling the detail work of John Tenniel (most famous for his Alice in Wonderland illustrations) or maybe (the sadly recently deceased) Bernie Wrightson.

The tale takes place in an alternate timeline in which Thomas Edison is president, Tesla has designed weapons for the military, and space is full of ether, upon which flotilla ships travel to other planets. When an Earth ship is destroyed, and Martian weapons are discovered in the wreckage, Teddy Roosevelt heads to Mars with the troops to protect the human way of life. Dan Foster’s writing is strong, and the adventure is fun, while King’s artwork fleshes the tale out, giving life to the characters---and his cover for the book is a true masterpiece.

One knit-picky bit: the version that I have suffers from a couple of typos, including one repeated paragraph, but I’ve read a great many independently published books (not to mention some books made by the BIG BOYS) and most of them have had a few typos and glitches. (I believe the newer editions of Martian-American War have corrected the errors, but I haven't seen them to be certain.) With that one minor complaint, I did enjoy the book, and would recommend it for fans of “Golden Age” science-fiction, pulp adventures, and “alternate history” stories. I am also looking forward to reading the sequel (already available), which stars Teddy Roosevelt’s daughter, Alice, and supposedly has more of a Lovecraftian mood!

---Richard F. Yates

P.S. – Unfortunately for most folks, finding this book in a store will be difficult unless you live in the Pacific Northwest (USA). If you attend the Rose City Comicon (Portland, OR) or Jet City Comicon (Tacoma, WA), you can grab a copy from the Art-Horse Studios booth. Or, you can check out their Faceboot page by going HERE!

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