Audiobook Review: The Martian Diaries Volume 1 The Day Of The Martians by H.E. Wilburson


Informational Note: I am reviewing this audiobook on specific request of the book’s author. I already own a copy of the book but I was offered a review copy in return for an an honest and genuine review which I intend to give.

It’s time I move away from the TARDIS…but not science fiction. One of my other passions in science fiction (as should be apparent to long time readers!) is The War Of The Worlds. Be it Wells’s original, the 1938 Orson Welles version or the Jeff Wayne rock opera version which has been reviewed twice on the Orkney News in different forms.

However neither myself or Sgathaich have reviewed any of the attempted sequels. There have been many sequels of sorts over the years ranging from Stephen Baxter’s ‘official’ sequel The Massacre of Mankind to various stories inspired by the original that could be pseudo sequels to strange crossovers involving Sherlock Holmes (I’m not kidding) but none of these are what I’m reviewing today.

The audiobook under my microscope today is an audio drama sequel to Wells’s original novel. Several of the same characters appear in prominent roles…however first I shall discuss the plot: The year is 1913. It has been ten years since the attempted Martian invasion. People are recovering slowly. Things are getting back to normal and people are returning to their old lives. That is until a Martian cylinder is discovered in Wales. The journalist narrator of the original story decides to take his wife on a ‘holiday’ to Crystal Palace where the Martian cylinder is currently being exhibited. While understandably on edge the journalist bumps into an old friend: Ogilvy the astronomer who is currently investigating this new cylinder. Unfortunately it seems a second Martian landing party complete with the famous fighting machines etc is on the way. What is this new mineral discovered at the crash site in Wales? Could humanity use it to prevent the new Martian plan? Or will all bacteria on Earth be obliterated?

This story is a rather pleasant surprise. Despite the potential potholes H.E Wilburson successfully manages to capture the original spirit of Wells. The writing comes across as an enjoyable genuine effort to carry on the story. It also is written in a style very similar to Wells’s original. The characters maintain a certain naivety to a degree although they are much more aware of the greater threat from these new Martians. The story flows along nicely although it is somewhat on the short side at just over two hours in length. The next book in this trilogy Lake On The Moon is decidedly longer at just under five.

Narration for this audiobook is performed by the two man team of Terry Thompson and Harry Preston. The main voice for the journalist is clearly inspired by Richard Burton’s performance in the Jeff Wayne production.The dramatic narration is performed well along with the scenes regarding the journalist’s wife. His internal debates are very understandable and very true to the mentality of the period. The narration may not be to everyone’s taste but I feel it fits the writing.

I also must bring attention to the sound effects and music in this release. There is extensive use of music in this audio drama in a similar tone and style to the 1978 production. I found the music fit the story being told especially during the action scenes in Kent. The same applies to the sound effects used. The weapons feel very impactful and the effects help the audio drama to develop the intended mood alongside the writing and music.

My main criticism however also applies to the music. Aside from some slight disappointment at how short the drama feels which I admit may be a personal problem and somewhat of a nitpick, the music can be criticised. Primarily due to the fact that the vast majority of scenes contain some form of music. There are few moments where the otherwise enjoyable writing can be given time to breathe. As well as this there are scenes where the narration can be difficult to hear due to the volume of the background music and sound effects. I still very much enjoy the music and I do feel the production would lose something if it was removed. However the sheer ubiquity of the music and on some occasions its volume can interfere with an otherwise enjoyable and engaging listen.

In conclusion despite a few issues I feel The Day Of The Martians is a worthwhile listen for fans of both Wells’s original and the famous 1978 Jeff Wayne version. It is definitely something I recommend to my readers and I hope that whose of you who give it a listen enjoy it like I did. I appreciate that some of my readers may have issues of their own with the drama but in this case I recommend giving the sample on Audible a listen. If it takes your interest? Buy it as soon as you can! That sample gives you a perfect taste of what the music and sound effects usually entails. But now I think it’s time I listen to something a little different. Perhaps a touch of Frozen Hell?

Sayonara! Nephrite

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