The map of the sky : a novel

What if an author wrote and published a novel dealing with an extraordinary occurrence, and within a year the described event happened? Would the author have special insight into what had happened? Would the novel’s publication and the event be seen as coincidence? Or, would s/he be seen as being somehow complicit in bringing these circumstances to life? And what if the fate of Earth rested on the answers to these questions? These are just some of the intriguing ideas explored in Felix J. Palma’s The Map of the Sky.

On August 1, 1898, a large, strange metallic cylinder appears on Horsell Common in Surrey, England. While crowds gather on the common to view the strange sight, Scotland Yard begins its investigation and author H.G. Wells is one of the first to be contacted. It seems that the scene happening on Horsell Common is strikingly similar to the events described in Wells’s latest novel, The War of the Worlds, right down to the date and time of the appearance. Because of this, Special Division Inspector Cornelius Clayton of Scotland Yard believes Wells may have unique insights into this event, and he is correct, although perhaps not in the way he suspects. Wells knows that a former acquaintance may be attempting to re-create the events in The War of the Worlds to win the heart of the woman he loves (a strange but true circumstance!). But as events unfold on the common, it soon becomes clear that this may be more than a trick played to woo the object of a young man’s affections--in fact, it may not be a trick at all! Could it be that Earth is actually being invaded by beings from another world?

With The Map of the Sky, Spanish author Felix J. Palma continues and expands the stories begun in The Map of Time. Many of the characters from the first novel, including author Wells, his wife Jane, and the all-seeing, all-knowing narrator, are revisited. They are joined by a new group of equally interesting and at times equally infuriating new characters, including Emma Harlow, the young lady from New York who challenges her suitor by indicating that only by recreating the events from The War of the Worlds will he win her heart and marry her.

As in The Map of Time, the story in The Map of the Sky is complex and involved, and blends elements of several different genres, including science fiction, adventure, romance and horror. This novel is also markedly darker and grimmer than Palma’s earlier novel, and the stakes are much, much higher. But Palma is a master storyteller, ensuring that readers will end this journey satisfied, even if the path taken to get there is more troubling.

The Map of the Sky is the second novel in a planned trilogy. It will be fascinating to see how all of the stories begun in these two books culminate in the final novel.