Kevin J. Anderson on “The Martian War”

Author, Kevin J. Anderson took some time to answer some questions for IMP magazine this week. His book “The Martian War” is newly released by Titan Books.  Have you ever pondered the idea that H.G. Wells’ book “The War of the Worlds” might have been the truth?  If it was then “The Martian War” would be a separate account of the events.


IMP: There is quite a cast of characters in this novel, and yet, you manage to keep them all interesting and unique. Is it difficult to write a story with such a full slate of personalities?

Kevin J. Anderson: That’s what I specialize in. My Saga of Seven Suns epic, for instance, has dozens and dozens of main characters over seven books; my Terra Incognita fantasy trilogy are three massive novels with numerous storylines and characters. In THE MARTIAN WAR I had the advantage that many of the characters are familiar either from history (HG Wells, Percival Lowell, TH Huxley) or from Wells’s fiction (Dr Moreau, the Invisible Man, Professor Cavor, as well as the Martians themselves and their tripods and heat rays.) I had rich material to work with, and I placed them into interesting situations.

IMP: What about “The War of the Worlds” prompted you to want to write in that “universe”?

Kevin J. Anderson: The movie of War of the Worlds was one of the first experiences I can remember. I watched it when I was about five years old, and I fell in love with it. I read the novel when I was 8-9 years old, and I have been fascinated with it ever since. I also read a lot of other Wells novels, and his work was a big influence on me. I am thrilled to have this chance for a great mashup/homage, and maybe introduce other readers to these classics.

IMP: Dr. Moreau is clearly not a black and white character. Without him, advancements wouldn’t be made but his discoveries are tainted by his lack of bio-medical ethics. How much of that is like the real world of science, in your mind?

Kevin J. Anderson: Moreau is a fascinating, ambitious character who is willing to use situational ethics—the ends justify the means. He makes great breakthroughs, but often at great cost to his subjects. I worked for many years with scientists at a large government research lab and got to know them, their attitudes, their work routines. I honestly never saw anyone with remotely that personality, though some were obviously ambitious. But in Wells’s day, one man could do a lot of research on his own; nowadays with so much bureaucracy, or government/university/industry funding, it’s a much larger and more complicated process.

IMP: The arrival of a “third kind” is such a cultural phenomenon; it’s in every culture and civilization. What do you think it is about “aliens” and “life out there” that intrigues us so?”

Kevin J. Anderson: We want know that we’re not alone in the universe, while at the same time we’re afraid of what’s out there. If there were aliens, would they visit us? And if so, would they want our stuff? (variously, in many SF movies and stories: our water, our resources, our women!) I’m sure the original Native Americans thought they were being invaded by aliens when the first white settlers arrived in large high-tech sailing ships.

IMP: Above all this book is greatly entertaining! It’s funny, witty, believable and over the top all the same time. How do you get such a good mix of “tone” when writing such an intricate plot?

Kevin J. Anderson: By enjoying myself immensely while doing it! I loved the original Wells books, and I had a great time putting my own stamp on it and tying together all of the highlights of Wells’s most famous novels. And if I enjoy writing a novel, that’s my best indication that the readers will enjoy it, too.