Balladeer’s Blog concludes its examination of Garrett P Serviss’ odd sequel to Fighters From Mars, his blatant imitation of War of the Worlds.
Soon the freed Earthwoman Aina (ah-EEE-nuh) was fluent enough in English and the High Command of the Terran fleet were well-versed enough in the ancient tongue of Aina’s people AND the Martians’ own language. In the present state of affairs Aina could understand and be understood enough that Edison, Serviss, Colonel Smith and the others could make clear to the former slave-girl their strategic needs.
When Aina gave the Earthmen a breakdown on all that she and her people had learned during their servitude on the Red Planet a plan came to mind. Thomas Edison’s strategy took the shape of the soon-to-be- formula “unstoppable army who can be defeated by a single quick blow inflicted at a ridiculously obvious point of weakness.”
No, it wasn’t a reactor vent or anything like that. The cities of Mars were all below sea level, making them very vulnerable to all the held-back waters of the Red Planet’s fictional “canals.” The flow of water through those canals was controlled by one central location.
Aina revealed that prior to their most recent assault on Earth the Martian forces had launched an attack on their long-time enemies: a race of giants who lived on the asteroid Ceres (today Ceres is considered a Dwarf Planet like Pluto). The Martians had so thoroughly ravaged Ceres that the inhabitants would be no threat to them for years.
That fact lulled the Martians into a false sense of security since they thought only the Cereans were capable of space flight – not the Earthlings. Feeling secure from attacks by the giants of Ceres, the Martians had dispersed the usually formidable forces guarding the region of the Canal Controls, reassigning many of them to other areas of the planet.
One of the Terran spaceships snuck down under cover of darkness to hover near the wall guarding the mammoth machinery that controlled the canals. Disintegrator rays opened a hole, following which an Away Team consisting of Thomas Edison, Garrett Serviss, Colonel Alonzo Jefferson Smith, Sydney Phillips and Aina infiltrated the facility.
No sooner had the quintet penetrated to the heart of the mechanism than Martian guards detected their presence and moved to kill them.While a firefight raged between Serviss, Smith and Philips on the one hand and the Martians on the other and amid the Colonel and Mr Phillips vying for Aina’s affections, Edison’s incredible mind enabled him to figure out how to manipulate the Martian technology before him.
Edison sabotaged the canal controls to initiate a chain reaction of flooding that would overtake all of Mars. (To make this seem less uncalled for from a story-telling angle remember that the Martians wiped out their entire race of Earth slaves earlier in the war.)
As the initial torrent of water flooded the control building itself our heroic Away Team nearly perished in the deluge but were saved at the last minute by the crew of the spaceship they had arrived in. That vessel then rendezvoused with the rest of the fleet hovering high above Mars, where the entire Earth force observed the carnage taking place on the surface of the Red Planet.
Martians perished in huge numbers as the flooding spread everywhere, devastating cities while the inhabitants sought shelter on higher elevations. In many areas even those higher elevations were ultimately overcome by the deluge. At length the flood reached the Martian metropolitan complex surrounding the Lake of the Sun.
The next act in this apocalyptic drama saw hundreds of the Martians’ air ships take to the skies to attack the Earth fleet as a final act of defiance against their enemies. Those airships were still confined to atmospheric flight and could not reach the same altitude as the Terran vessels above them.
Some of the Martian ships manevuered themselves into a position where they were pointing straight up, at which point they would fire their heat rays and lightning cannons at the Earth fleet. A few of these desperate ploys would succeed in damaging the occasional Terran vessel and killing a handful of Earthlings inside.
That being the case Edison ordered the fleet to open fire on the Martian airships below and for the next three hours the Earth ships used their devastating disintegrator rays to deadly effect. The airships of the Red Planet fell from the sky with regularity while Earth’s forces suffered only periodic damage and the loss of a few lives.
In the end the surviving Martian ships abandoned the fight and flew off to try to rescue the few survivors of the planet-wide disaster. Aina pointed out to Edison, Serviss, Smith and Phillips a 40 ft tall Cerean woman who had been kept as a slave by the Martian emperor. The woman’s height permitted her to survive the rising waters while the Martians around her drowned in them.
The Earth flagship with Edison and company attempted a rescue but the gigantic woman was overtaken by the flood waters before that rescue could be completed. At last the situation stabilized enough so that the Martian emperor could make his people’s formal surrender and a vow to never again attack the Earth.
One final battle erupted at the surrender ceremony but the Martians were defeated and with the death of their emperor – whom the Martians regarded as a virtual god – the peace was assured.
The Earth fleet returned to a hero’s welcome and Aina married Sydney Phillips while Colonel Smith was noble enough to give the bride away at the celebrity-packed wedding ceremony.
A NEW SERIALIZED FEATURE WILL BEGIN IN A FEW DAYS.
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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