I've been thinking, abandoning, returning to, and abandoning again this hinted at alien story for the last week or so. And since I've concluded that I won't be writing it (not any time soon, at least), I might as well lay my cards on the table.
The idea was to do an unofficial sequel to The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells, showing the world today after a failed Martian invasion in the late-1800s. They weren't going to be the Martians Wells wrote about - they'd be my own - but there'd be hints of Wells throughout the story. It wasn't even going to involve the invasion itself, but rather the aftermath of it, asking what happens between the descendants of the victims of genocide (humans) and the descendants of the perpetrators (the Martians).
It sounded great at first, and I really wanted to do an homage to those stories when people thought worlds like Mars really could be inhabited. But then I got to thinking about it an it gave me a headache.
I didn't overdose on Mars research. No, no. I went out, bought a notebook, and started jotting down ideas an notes to ready myself for when I could begin writing after finishing Ain't No Grave. Mostly, I had a problem fitting in characters. All I had was a basic situation: Mars fails to invade Earth; humans and Martians try to coexist. But who would tell us this story? Would it be an anthology of completely different characters showing us this alternate universe? Would it focus on a single family in the present day as the invaders try to conquer again? Or would it be like the science fiction equivalent of Roots, tracking a family from the survivors of the first invasion to today (not a bad idea, actually, but it feels a bit ambitious to me)?
I honestly have no idea how this will all play out. Perhaps the best thing to do is to not focus on this concept as a novel, but rather a series of short stories written on my own; write it out a piece at a time, and then let it coalesce. When a story seems too big, perhaps the best way to go is to carve it up into smaller bites. In the Victorian Period, it was common for a novel to be serialized in newspapers as a sequence of short stories before being printed as a complete novel.
No solid title for this project yet. I'm just calling it Mars for now.