SCARLET TRACES: A WAR OF THE WORLDS ANTHOLOGY / EDITOR: IAN EDGINTON / PUBLISHER: REBCA / RELEASE DATE: SEPTEMBER 5TH
Ian Edginton began work on Scarlet Traces as a partially-animated web-serial for the website Cool Beans in 2002 but the collapse of the company saw it re-tooled into more of a traditional comic book story, which was published in the Judge Dredd Megazine. A sequel to War of the Worlds, Edginton and master artist D’Israeli imagined a Britain ten years after the failed Martian invasion, one in which the British have reverse-engineered alien technology to once again rule the waves.
The duo went on to work on an adaptation of the original H.G. Wells novel, seeding it with characters from their earlier work, and have completed a further three serials set in the same universe, with the latest – Home Front – serialised in 2000 AD earlier in 2019.
This latest venture into the world of Wells is a departure; not only is it delivered entirely in prose, but none of the stories are by Edginton or D’Israeli. Instead, Edginton has gathered some of British sci-fi’s heavyweights, along with pals from the comics world and some up and comers in the field of speculative fiction, and let them loose in his story-verse. The stories stretch from the earliest days of the Scarlet Traces timeline to its latter settings, during the great Venusian refugee crisis, and are set on Mars as well as on Earth, and even touch on the effects of Britain’s Martian-powered dominance on other nations.
The book sets out its stall early, with Stephen Baxter and Adam Roberts among the first contributors, but stays strong throughout with pieces by James Lovegrove, Doctor Who novelist Mark Morris, Black Library veteran Jonathan Green, as well as comics’ Emma Beeby, INJ Culbard, and Chris Roberson.
H.G. Wells’ world, and its expanded territory through Scarlet Traces, is a wonderful place to spend some time. With the comic book work produced by Edginton and D’Israeli understandably taking time to produce - the duo work on other stories, alongside their masterpiece - this collection of stories set in that world is a more than adequate stopgap. More than that, it fleshes out the work of Wells and his successors into a full-blooded brand that invites yet more investigation.