H. G. Wells brought his immortal 'War of the Worlds' to a conclusion with the defeat of the Martian invaders destroyed by the smallest of earth creatures-the bacteria. The aliens may have failed to dominate the earth, but they left it devastated. Serviss picked up the tale where Wells left off and penned 'Edison's Invasion of Mars'-his unauthorised sequel based on a simple principle-IT'S PAYBACK TIME! The men of Earth decide to take the battle to the Red Planet itself in this thrilling space fantasy which will be essential reading for anyone for whom the original was just not enough. In the second novel, 'A Columbus of Space' the action turns to the planet Venus. A reluctant crew rocket through space to a strange world complete with Amazon women, apemen and giant man-eating spiders-all essential ingredients for a vintage space romp. In 'The Moon Metal', a unique and incredibly precious metal is being secretly mined and released to an eager world market. But where is this mine and why is it such a closely guarded secret? Perhaps its origin is not of this world! Those who enjoy science fantasy from the period that brought forth the Edgar Rice Burroughs stories of interplanetary adventure will find many enjoyable pages to turn in this collection of vintage SF greats.
The squadron had been rapidly withdrawn to a very considerable distance from the asteroid. The range of the mysterious artillery employed by the Martians was unknown to us. We did not even know the limit of the effective range of our own disintegrators. If it should prove that the Martians were able to deal their strokes at a distance greater than any we could reach, then they would of course have an insuperable advantage.
On the other hand, if it should turn out that our range was greater than theirs, the advantage would be on our side. Or—which was perhaps most probable—there might be practically no difference in the effective range of the engines.
Anyhow, we were going to find out how the case stood, and that without delay.
Everything being in readiness, the disintegrators all in working order, and the men who were able to handle them, most of whom were experienced marksmen, chosen from among the officers of the regular army of the United States, and accustomed to the straight shooting and the sure hits of the West, standing at their posts, the squadron again advanced.
In order to distract the attention of the Martians, the electrical ships had been distributed over a wide space. Some dropped straight down toward the asteroid; others approached it by flank attack, from this side and that. The flagship moved straight in toward the point where the first disaster occurred. Its intrepid commander felt that his post should be that of the greatest danger, and where the severest blows would be given and received.
The approach of the ships was made with great caution. Watching the Martians with our telescopes we could clearly see that they were disconcerted by the scattered order of our attack. Even if all of their engines of war had been in proper condition for use it would have been impossible for them to meet the simultaneous assault of so many enemies dropping down upon them from the sky.
But they were made of fighting metal, as we knew from old experience. It was no question of surrender. They did not know how to surrender, and we did not know how to demand a surrender. Besides, the destruction of the two electrical ships with the forty men, many of whom bore names widely known upon the earth, had excited a kind of fury among the members of the squadron which called for vengeance.
Suddenly a repetition of the quick movement by the Martians, which had been the forerunner of the former coup, was observed; again a blinding flash burst from their war engine and instantaneously a shiver ran through the frame of the flagship; the air within quivered with strange pulsations and seemed suddenly to have assumed the temperature of a blast furnace.
We all gasped for breath. Our throats and lungs seemed scorched in the act of breathing. Some fell unconscious upon the floor. The marksmen, carrying the disintegrators ready for use, staggered, and one of them dropped his instrument.
But we had not been destroyed like our comrades before us. In a moment the wave of heat passed; those who had fallen recovered from their momentary stupor and staggered to their feet.
The electrical steersman stood hesitating at his post.
"Move on," said Mr. Edison sternly, his features set with determination and his eyes afire. "We are still beyond their effective range. Let us get closer in order to make sure work when we strike."
The ship moved on. One could hear the heartbeats of its inmates. The other members of the squadron, thinking for the moment that disaster had overtaken the flagship, had paused and seemed to be meditating flight.
"Signal them to move on," said Mr. Edison.
The signal was given, and the circle of electrical ships closed in upon the asteroid.
In the meantime Mr. Edison had been donning his air-tight suit. Before we could clearly comprehend his intention he had passed through the double-trapped door which gave access to the exterior of the car without permitting the loss of air, and was standing upon what served as the deck of the ship.
In his hand he carried a disintegrator. With a quick motion he sighted it.
As quickly as possible I sprang to his side. I was just in time to note the familiar blue gleam about the instrument, which indicated that its terrific energies were at work. The whirring sound was absent, because here, in open space, where there was no atmosphere, there could be no sound.
My eyes were fixed upon the Martians' engine, which had just dealt us a staggering, but not fatal, blow, and particularly I noticed a polished knob projecting from it, which seemed to have been the focus from which its destructive bolt emanated.
A moment later the knob disappeared. The irresistible vibrations darted from the electrical disintegrator and had fallen upon it and instantaneously shattered it into atoms.
"That fixes them," said Mr. Edison, turning to me with a smile.
And indeed it did fix them. We had most effectually spiked their gun. It would deal no more death blows.