A number of years have elapsed since the Martian Invasion chronicled by H.G. Wells in The War of the Worlds. The damage inflicted on the Earth was severe, and the protracted process of recovery, begun in the British Empire in the last years of Queen Victoria’s reign, now continues under Queen Louise, Victoria’s sixth child and eldest surviving heir after the catastrophe of the invasion. Just as Earth is beginning to return to normalcy, another crisis has emerged. John Bedford, who had retreated into an opium haze after the horrors of his last expedition, is summoned to Windsor Castle where Queen Louise shows him a photograph. “Those are puffs of gas on the Martian surface. The Martians are coming again, Mr. Bedford. And in far greater numbers.” Defeated the last time only due to their vulnerability to Earth’s microbes, there is every reason to expect that this time the Martians will have taken precautions against that threat to their plans for conquest.
Earth’s only hope to thwart the invasion before it reaches the surface and unleashes further devastation on its inhabitants is deploying weapons on platforms employing the anti-gravity material Cavorite, but the secret of manufacturing it rests with its creator, Cavor, who has been taken prisoner by the ant-like Selenites in the expedition from which Mr Bedford narrowly escaped, as chronicled in Mr Wells’s The First Men in the Moon. Now, Bedford must embark on a perilous attempt to recover the Cavorite sphere lost at the end of his last adventure and then join an expedition to the Moon to rescue Cavor from the caves of the Selenites.
Meanwhile, on Barsoom (Mars), John Carter and Deja Thoris find their beloved city of Helium threatened by the Khondanes, whose deadly tripods wreaked so much havoc on Earth not long ago and are now turning their envious eyes back to the plunder that eluded them on the last attempt.
Queen Louise must assemble an international alliance, calling on all of her crowned relatives: Czar Nicholas, Kaiser Wilhelm, and even those troublesome republican Americans, plus all the resources they can summon—the inventions of the Serbian, Tesla, the research of Maria Skłowdowska and her young Swiss assistant Albert, discovered toiling away in the patent office, the secrets recovered from Captain Nemo’s island, and the mysterious interventions of the Time Traveller, who flickers in and out of existence at various moments, pursuing his own inscrutable agenda. As the conflict approaches and battle is joined, an interplanetary effort is required to save Earth from calamity.
As you might expect from this description, this is a rollicking good romp replete with references and tips of the hat to the classics of science fiction and their characters. What seems like a straightforward tale of battle and heroism takes a turn at the very end into the inspiring, with a glimpse of how different human history might have been.
At present, only a Kindle edition is available, which is free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers.
Taloni, John. The Compleat Martian Invasion. Seattle: Amazon Digital Services, 2016. ASIN B01HLTZ7MS.