Felix J. Palma’s first bestselling book, The Map of Time, got lost somewhere on my to-read list but will definitely be making it’s way to the top now that I’ve read his second book in what is to be a trilogy, The Map of the Sky. From what I know about Time, author H.G. Wells is a central character and he is in Sky as well. The Map of the Sky is a fantastical journey that switches between the past, present, and near future all centered around the martian invasion that is the center plot of Wells’ now infamous book, War of the Worlds.
The book opens with Wells enjoying the success of his newly published work War of the Worlds. He is invited to lunch with an author who has written a follow-up to Wells’ book, and the man reveals to Wells that he has seen the body of an actual alien in the basement of the London history museum. Of course, Wells wants to see it and a minor accident soon sets the rest of the book in motion.
Next, we are on a ship some sixty years earlier in the Antarctic with a crew bound to find the hole that leads to the center of the Earth. Instead, they end up witnessing an alien ship crashing to earth and find themselves battling the very alien Wells has just laid his eyes on in the museum.
The plot switches again to a man named Gilmore, once a well known time traveler who transported people to the year 2000, who is in love with a rich woman named Emma Harlow. Emma refuses to wed Gilmore unless he can recreate the alien spacecraft crashing on Earth from Wells’ book and get Londoners to believe it’s an actual invasion. It is the final plot that drives most of the book causing the reader to ask, “Is the invasion real or not?” Wells, playing witness to it all, discovers he possesses a unique gift that may (or may not) help him save the world from a real martian invasion.
I’m usually a reader who prefers the plot to move along a bit more rapidly than it did for me in this book. But here, I hung on every detail of Palma’s complex storytelling. At times, I was caught off guard and assumed I had read something incorrectly. Palma uses an all-knowing, but unknown, narrator to tell the story who frequently interrupts to point out important aspects of the show, and he also changes them. As the reader, you are forced to follow him and are generously rewarded when later details are revealed and assure you that you were not incorrect after all.
The Map of the Sky is a long and multilayered tale that I thoroughly enjoyed. It has elements of history, classic fiction, fantasy, time travel, romance, aliens, human endurance, and more, all set within the Victorian era of London in the late 1800s. There really is something for everyone here. Classics lovers will enjoy following H.G. Wells on his journey while discovering the elements from his beloved books including War of the Worlds, The Invisible Man, and The Time Machine. Beloved Edgar Allan Poe also makes an appearance in one of the early storylines.
I look forward to the next book in the trilogy to see what adventure Wells finds himself on next. But until then, I definitely plan to pick up The Map of Time and catch up on the world of Felix J. Palma. Past, present, or future, it is a world this reader enjoyed spending some time in!