Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of Garrett P Serviss’ odd sequel to Fighters From Mars, his blatant imitation of War of the Worlds.
As the black chemical cloud succeeded in hiding the entire surface of Mars from the Earth fleet’s view the men on board the spaceships began choking and suffocating as the strange fumes somehow slipped through microscopic pores on the hulls.
Thomas Edison ordered the fleet to pull far enough away from the Red Planet that they would all be safe from the chemical smoke, which was limited to the Martian atmosphere. While the various commanders tried to plot a new attack strategy it was discovered that most of the food supplies on each of the Earth ships had been destroyed by leaks.
The fleet only had enough provisions left for 10 days, which was not even long enough for the return trip to Earth. The Terran forces now had no choice: they must somehow acquire food and water from the planet below or die.
Edison and Serviss worked with the Science Officers of the other ships to adjust their disintegrator weapons for a much longer range. Meanwhile astronomers plotted the likely location of the heavily populated Lake of the Sun region of Mars so that it could be struck despite the planet-wide smoke screen.
At last the hour came when the Earth fleet was above the metropolitan complex surrounding the Lake of the Sun. At Edison’s command all the ships began firing their disintegrator rays through the cloud cover, wreaking havoc on the city and fortresses below. Before too long the Martians were returning fire with giant cannons which shot huge electrical bolts.
A few more of the remaining Earth ships were obliterated outright while others were damaged enough to force a retreat to the point of orbit. Edison and Serviss led the rest of the fleet down through the cloud cover in order to more efficiently rain death and destruction upon the Martians.
There were dogfights between the Earth spaceships and the Martians’ mere air ships. Terran vessels exchanged fire with the Martian fortresses, with both sides running up an incredible body count. Though the Earthlings killed three or four Martians for every death they themselves suffered eventually the weight of numbers threatened to overwhelm them and Edison ordered a general retreat.
When the surviving Earth ships rendezvoused in orbit around the Red Planet just over 60 vessels remained of the 100 which had started the expedition. The situation for the Terrans seemed genuinely hopeless unless a better strategy could be decided upon. +++
I WILL EXAMINE ADDITIONAL PARTS SOON. CHECK BACK ONCE OR TWICE A WEEK FOR UPDATES.
FOR TEN MORE EXAMPLES OF ANCIENT SCIENCE FICTION CLICK HERE: https://glitternight.com/2014/03/03/ten-neglected-examples-of-ancient-science-fiction/
FOR WASHINGTON IRVING’S 1809 depiction of an invasion from the moon click here: https://glitternight.com/2014/05/05/ancient-science-fiction-the-men-of-the-moon-1809-by-washington-irving/
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