The Tripods Attack! by John McNichol
I read the second book of this series first because the initial book, The Tripods Attack!, was being reprinted at the time. However, I recently received Tripods where we are introduced to a steampunk world in which young Gilbert Chesterton, recently orphaned, went from his home in Minnesota and found himself working in a computer factor in London (they call it something else, but punchcards and machines work everything so these are early computers). Downtrodden, barely making a living, and with no discernibly bright future, Gil is unexpectedly called into the Chairman’s office one day and upgraded to journalist. He is sent to Wokking to investigate mysterious happenings, which any science fiction fan worth their salt will recognize as the Martian invasion written of in War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells.
Along the way, Gil meets Herb Wells, a level-headed cleric named Father Brown, and a mysterious Doctor who seems to know more about the Martians than he lets on. There is also a beautiful red-headed woman who seems to always whisk around corners when Gil is just about to be able to speak to her.
The Tripods Attack! is an enjoyable mash-up of real and fictional characters in a vividly portrayed world where anything can happen. I would have preferred less time spent in the tunnels where the story seemed to drag on at times. Also, when occasionally told the Martians’ thoughts I was jerked out of the story. Their actions spoke for themselves and knowing what they felt didn’t further the story any.
As with the second book, The Emperor of North America, here are strains of Catholic worldview that are shown as part of various characters’ moral fiber and others are shown espousing different views that are set in opposition. We see how Gil became Catholic and how Herb’s “foxhole conversion” affects his life. These weren’t preachy or moralistic, and weren’t not the main focus of the action, although again they definitely motivated actions. As with all things of this nature, your milage may vary.
This is definitely a fun book and I recommend it.