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Book Review: The Map of the Sky by Felix J. Palma

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An author has written a sequel to H.G. Wells Book, The War of the Worlds. Wells considers the book a failure by a lesser writer who just wants to make his fortune riding on the coattails of Wells’ success. After the two men drink to excess, they stagger to a nearby museum where, with a stolen key, they sneak into a very strange storage room. There they find a trove of unusual items, most of which Wells believes facetious.

But Wells sees an octopus-like body inside a coffin. It appears to be some ghastly type of creature. In his inebriated stupor, Wells is led to believe the stiff is a Martian from another planet. It has been kept secret from ordinary Britts who might well panic to know the existence of such a creature. Would it mean an invasion of earth is imminent? Leaning against a wall beside the coffin stands a strange saucer-like machine believed to be the mode of transportation used by the creature in the coffin. Neither they nor can scientists open the flying vessel.

Author Felix J. Palma jerks the reader back in time to tell the story of when the museum creature and its saucer were reconnoitered. A sailing crew seeking the alleged entrance into Earth’s hollow interior world, believed to be located at the South Pole, find themselves ice locked. Suddenly, a saucer (eventually stored in the museum) streaks overhead and crashes nearby into Antarctic ice. The ship’s crew search for the saucer and after several hideous deaths attributed to the invader that story stops.

Again, The Map of the Sky plunges the reader back to England where an ongoing love story continues at a slow dull pace. A young rich actor, considered lower caste by his beautiful beloved, promises her he will do anything to win her love. Her request: fabricate the landing of Martians right here in London in such a realistic way that all England will eventually panic. She suggests the actor use Wells’ imaginary War of the Worlds as a guide for his production.

Author Palma truly bamboozles readers of his book as he combines all of the above places, events, and promises, into a realistic novel that successfully brings them together in a believable, yet fictitious way. Throw in a real Martian invasion of the earth at this precise time in history and you have all the elements of a downright exciting science fiction tale from the H.G. Wells era of 1898.

To enjoy this well told tale of fantasy, it would benefit the reader to be patient with Palma’s Victorian prose that is quite dissimilar to today’s mainstream books where sentences are short and concise, maybe downright choppy. In The Map of the Sky, author Palma interrelates a multitude of ideas in a single long sentence which might need several sentences to explain by modern standards. I enjoyed reading this book precisely because I felt I was intelligently thinking along with the author, especially when Palma broke right into his tale to speak to the reader. An example:

“Ignore my mistake, which is almost certainly due to my failings as a narrator, and travel back with me a few moments in time, to when the monster has fought off the dogs and is lurching toward Reynolds and Allan, spreading its claws, and let us see how things turn out.”

If you are seeking a book with an incredible story that will transport you back in time to what would have been a compelling read at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, this is the book for you. The story is rather long, but it is divided into three separate parts, each of which could be an entertaining story in its own right. Yet when you make the connections between all three parts, the resulting tale is all the more enjoyable. Read The Map of the Sky. It will not disappoint.

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About Regis Schilken

  • Scott Stotler

    I recently read The map of time….A book I loved right away. I enjoy very much the way it is written, and I look forward to reading The map of the sky.