GROUND ZERO FOR THE APOCALYPSE

When the apocalypse comes, we might as well get a good seat.

That’s what happens in “Invasion!,” a new one-volume trilogy of
novels that modernizes and continues the H.G. Wells science-fiction
classic, “War of the Worlds.”

Much of the early action in “Invasion!” takes place in the
Inland Empire. Martian spacecraft land throughout the region. Cal State
San Bernardino is reduced to rubble. Palmdale and Victorville are
attacked. March Air Reserve Base is annihilated. Lake Elsinore is
blanketed with poison gas.

Yes, the Inland Empire is hit hard.

For this we can thank the author, Robert Reginald, whose real
name is Michael Burgess. He’s retired librarian emeritus at Cal State San
Bernardino and a longtime resident of the city.

The Inland Empire has appeared previously in his fiction, and
will do so again, the author says. “I think there’s a lot to
be said about the Inland Empire and the people who live here and the
places in which they dwell. The juxtaposition of very rich and very
poor, of beauty and blight, of diversity of all sorts, of gangland’s
doom and unending boom.”

He adds, with a laugh, “One could even wax poetic, if one had enough wax.”

Don’t let him kid you. This guy has plenty of wax. He’s the
author of more than 120 other books. He is founder of
Borgo Press and an editor for Wildside Press.

“Invasion!,” published by Underwood Books, is his bold reimagining of “War of the


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Worlds.”

The 500-page trilogy begins with “War of Two Worlds,” which
updates the classic story of mankind’s valiant battle against Martian
invaders. The setting now is present-day California.

The saga continues with “Operation Crimson Storm,” in which
Earth carries the battle to Mars, then culminates with “The Martians
Strike Back!,” in which the battle rages on both worlds, and other
worlds, and takes a turn toward discovery of a new way for
interplanetary beings to co-exist.

But will they choose life?

Or will they choose death?

The Inland Empire not only serves as an important staging
ground for key early battles in “Invasion!,” but continues to reappear
throughout the epic saga.

The main hero, Alex Smith, is an academic who lives in the Bay Area, also a target of the Martians’ opening onslaught.

His younger brother, Stephen Smith, is an intern at Loma Linda
University Medical Center, and is an eyewitness to the attack on
Southern California, centered in the Inland Empire.

As the situation worsens, he flees with his future wife Cassie
and her daughter Erie toward the coast, driving on back roads through
the Moreno Valley. Eventually, after much peril, they find safe passage
on an evacuation ship as the Southland is demolished behind them.

Years later, they are able to return as the region recovers.
Stephen becomes a cardiologist. He and Cassie have children. Erie grows
up and starts her own family in Yucaipa.

Eventually, though, renewed fighting forces Smith and his
family to flee again, this time north, where they become pivotal players
in the story’s dramatic conclusion.

“Invasion!” (Underwood Books, $14.95) can be ordered at local bookstores or from online booksellers, including Amazon.com.