Thursday, August 30, 2012

Retro Review - A Conquest of Two Worlds (1932) by Edmond Hamilton

"Retro Review -

A Conquest of Two Worlds

(c) 1932

by Edmond Hamilton

(including a Suggested Chronology)"

(c) 2007, 2012

by Jordan S. Bassior


This was my third-ever review of an Edmond Hamilton short story. It was also one of my biggest surprises, because while I had read it before, I was amazed that the story hadn't previously made a deeper impression on me. Since it is one of Hamilton's darker stories, this may be because I had previously rejected it for emotional reasons.

I guess this means I'm more mature, in terms of my ability to digest something tragic, than I was as a younger man.

I had to do a quick-and-dirty word count (get an average words-per-line times lines-per-page times pages of story) to determine that this work is only about 10,000 words long, and hence really is a "short story" rather than a "novella." I say this because I've rarely read a story as compact, in terms of the amount of plot squeezed into such a small space. While this is technically a "short story" by length, it is more like a short novel in terms of structure. More on this later, but this is essentially why my synopsis is going to be both rather cursory, and yet rather long.


The story starts by introducing its three main characters: Jimmy Crane, Mart Halkett and Mark Burnham. When we meet them they are young men (1), enrolled in "a New York technical school" (later textual evidence makes it clear that this is a college) (2). The terms in which they are first described evoke such strong feelings of warm happy nostalgia that they deserve a full quote:

"Crane, Halkett and Burnham had been an inseperable trio since boyhood. They had fought youthful foes together, had wrestled together with their lessons, and now read together, as an amazed world was reading, of Ross Gillen's stupendous exploit."

Reminds me of my own young manhood. Probably reminded Edmond Hamilton of his own manhood, and for sure it would have described the current, or recently past, lives of most of the Wonder Stories readership -- intellectual teenagers or young men. This is deliberate: Hamilton wants his audience to identify with them, because it makes what is going to happen to them -- and their friendship -- all the sadder.

Ross Gillen, a "stubby, shy and bespectacled Arizona scientist" (3) after 16 years of effort invents an atomic reactor which gets energy by fissioning atoms "with a simple projector of electrical forces of terrific voltage." (4) He then calls in Anson Drake (5) who helps him build "an atom blast mechanism that would shoot forth as a rocket stream, exploded atoms of immeasurable force, a tremendous means of propulsion." (6)

Gillen and Drake, over the winter, build a one-man rocketship (7). Gillen pilots it to Venus ("a landless, water-covered ball") and Mercury ("a mass of molten rock"), finding it impossible to land on either (8). Then he heads to Mars, discovering "thin but breathable air," an "arid world of red deserts and gray oases" fed by underground springs of water. It is inhabited by a race of humanoid sapient nomads, "man-like beings with stilt-like legs and arms, with huge bulging chests and bulbous heads covered with light fur." (9) He makes friendly contact with the Martians, and discovers large mineral and chemical deposits.

Gillen then proceeds to Jupiter, which has a solid surface and is warmed by its own internal heat to habitable temperatures at that surface (10). The giant world is "without oceans, warm and steamy and clad from pole to pole with forests of great fern growths. The Jovians ... were erect-walking creatures with big, soft hairless bodies and with thick arms and legs ending in flippers instead of hands or feet. Their heads were small and round, with large dark eyes. They lived peacefully in large communities in the fern forests, on fruits and roots. They had few weapons and were of child-like friendliness."

The Jovian humidity and gravity make Gillen ill, and he returns to Earth. He assumes that the worlds farther out are "hopelessly cold and uninhabitable," anyway.

The world goes "mad with excitement" at these radio reports (11). Gillen crashes on landing and is found dead in his rocket, but "with a smile upon his lips." (12)

Anson Drake (13) builds ten rockets for a second expedition. The nations of Earth set aside their grievances and form an "Interplanetary Council" to manage Man's expansion into space (14). They name Drake the commander of the planned Mars expedition. Crane, Halkett and Burnham graduate just in time to join this expedition (15).

There are technical problems, which cause a great loss of life. Half of the crew is temporarily incapacitated by "space sickness" (combined UV radiation, weightlessness, and depression). Two of the ten rockets are destroyed in "a meteor swarm" (16), and one is destroyed upon landing. Of the remaining seven, three are damaged in the landing, leaving only four functional ships. The survivors (including Burnham) are plagued by "Martian fever," an environmental disease (probably partially psychological in nature).

At first the Martians are friendly, and some men (including Halkett) learn their language and culture. However, when the Martians learn that Earth plans to colonize Mars, their mood becomes more hostile. Tensions rise, and one of the guards "wantonly shoots" a Martian. The natives rush the camp.

Drake quickly adapts the plasma rockets into atomic flamethrowers (17), and with this and other Earth weapons the Earthlings beat off the Martian attack. Drake is besieged, and the Interplanetary Council orders him to return.

Because he has only four working rockets, he cannot bring back all his men. He sends many (including the trio) back in those four, and remains with some of the men to try to repair the other three. The Martians attack again, and overwhelm the camp. Drake and all his men are slaughtered (18).

This outrages the people of Earth, which helps to justify actions that they might have undertaken anyway out of greed for the Martian natural resources. An Army of the Interplanetary Council is organized, and a hundred rockets are constructed for a third Martian expedition. Technology is improved: plasma cannons ("atom-blast weapons") and atomic bombs (from the descriptions, small tactical devices) are built. "Magnetic field" meteor warning systems (19), UV shielded viewports (20), and "recoil harnesses" (to reduce acceleration injuries and somehow also space sickness) are added to the new rockets as design improvements. "Special oxygenation treatments" are devised to reduce the effects of Martian fever. Richard Weathering, who had been Drake's second-in-command on the earlier expedition, is to command this one (21).

Crane, Halkett and Burnham, who are quite valued for their previous experience, join this new Army, and are at once commissioned lieutenants (22). Halkett is uncertain about the morality of participating in the conquest of Mars, but Crane and Burnham help persuade him to join in the expedition. Crane even doubts that there will be any fighting (23).

Showing the superiority of the new designs, 97 of the 100 rockets land safely. However, they are attacked by the Martians almost immediately after landing. The Martians have developed group tactics and incendiary weapons (24). Fortunately, Weathering quickly got his men grouped, brought the rockets together, and entrenched, deploying his "atom blast" plasma cannons to defend a perimeter. Crane commands one and Halkett another of the atom-blast batteries.

The Martians try to keep Weathering besieged but Weathering sends out parties to devastate the nearby oases which are the source of Martian food supplies. Crane leads one of these missions. The Martians are forced to pull back from the Army camp (25).

Having secured local mastery, Weathering then splits his force into three divisions, sending two of them to establish forts at two other points forming a triangle of three forces around the equator of the planet (26). He commands the division at his first base: the two new bases are placed under Crane and Lanson (27).

Weathering sends 80 ships back to Earth for reinforcements, and 50 new rockets are constructed back there. More and more men and machines come from the Earth to Mars.

The Martians launch a final desperate offensive that overwhelms Lanson's post, with the loss of his whole garrison. It is largely Halkett's personal courage and energy, in command of the atom-blasts, that saves Weathering's main base from a similar fate (28). Weathering puts Halkett in command of the relief expedition that retakes Lanson's fort.

More and more men come to Mars and the Martian resistance fades out. Weathering establishes more and more forts and devastates a wider and wider area of the oases, driving the Martians out from much of their former territory. Within a year, there are 50 such forts. By now, Crane has become Weathering's second in command, and Halkett and Burnham each command a fort.

Under Weathering's authority, Crane launches a campaign of systematic genocide (29), clearing out the Martians from first one and then another region of the planet. The survivors are herded into camps. Within a year, 75% of the Martian race is dead, and the remainder are little threat. Earth has conquered the Martians.

Weathering is congratulated by the Interplanetary Council. He and Crane return to Earth, where Crane is given command of the expedition to Jupiter. Crane bids a fond forewell to his old friends Halkett and Burnham.

On Earth, Crane prepares an expedition of 200 rockets. Exoskeletal powered armor (30), bone supplements, and respirators are devised to protect the men from the Jovian gravity and humidity.

Despite the best precautions, 16 of the 200 rockets are lost en route to Jupiter (31). This is largely due to casualties in the Asteroid Belt (32). The surviving 184 rockets land in Jupiter's southern hemisphere.

Jupiter is a hostile environment. The respirators work only imperfectly, and many men come down with "Jovian croup." There is dangerous wildlife: "some of them disk-shaped things that enveloped anything living in their bodies and ingested it directly" (33), and huge worms. Only by keeping their plasma cannons at the ready are operations possible.

Crane makes peaceful contact with the Jovians. Crane wants to avoid a repeat of the war with the Martians. He finds them to be as intelligent and even more peaceful than the Martians at first contact: unlike the Martians, they use their spears only against the wildlife (34).

Meanwhile, back on Mars, Halkett and Burnham each command a fort. Halkett sees swarms of miners and businessmen descend upon Mars, swelling new towns and profiting from the blood shed by his comrades. The surviving Martians are confined to the reservations and abused and scorned by the human immigrants.

Halkett confides his moral qualms about this situation to Burnham, but Burnham does not understand. Burnham sees the displacement of the Martians as inevitable, and is quite happy with the successful growth of the human colonies on Mars.

Halkett goes to Jupiter, where Crane welcomes him as an assistant in the Jovian venture. Crane is enthusiastic about the future possibilities of Jupiter as a home for Man, and assures him that he means to try to keep the peace wit the Jovians Halkett learns the Jovian language and becomes a valuable interpreter for his old friend.

But trouble soon breaks out in a lethal brawl between Earthlings and Jovians at one of the human forts. The Jovians send a delegation demanding a cessation to Earthling immigration to Jupiter: Crane refuses, and then some nameless fool slaughters the Jovian delegation as it leaves the fort (35). The Jovians go on the war-path.

The Jovians swarm the twelve human forts on Jupiter, one of them commanded by Halkett. The natives are almost unarmed save for spears, but they are physically powerful and outnumber the Earthlings 10,000 to 1. The humans man their atom-blasts and hold on, awaiting reinforcement from Earth.

One post falls, but the Jovians merely take prisoner its men rather than slaughtering them: they are less bloodthirsty than were the Martians (36). This is especially remarkable as they lost hundreds of thousands of their own poeple taking the position (37).

Crane receives his reinforcements and the crisis is past. He systematically strengthens his forts and eventually establishes a network of a hundred, gaining control over the southern Jovian hemisphere in a protracted struggle with atom-bomb and atom-blast, slaughtering countless Jovians.

Then, shockingly, Halkett turns traitor! While commanding an atom-blast battery "anvil" and Burnham and an officer named James (38) the "hammers" in an envelopment battle, Halkett refuses to fire on the retreating Jovians and lets them escape. Crane, saddened, tries to find a way to help his old friend avoid court-martial, but Halkett confesses that he failed to fire because he felt sorry for the Jovians.

Halkett is shipped back to Earth and court-martialed. At his trial he passionately cries out for the rights of the Jovian natives (39). He is sentenced to ten years in a military prison, where he works on atom-blast and atom-bomb production lines.

After five years, he is released for good behavior (40). And promptly disappears.

Crane prepares for two years, builds a mighty army and invades the Jovian North Hemisphere. His advance is slow but systematic. The Jovians attempt guerilla fighting using the forests as cover, but Crane's forces blast away the forests as they advance to counter this strategy (41).

Then the IPC army encounters an unexpected setback. The Jovians counterattack, this time with atom-blasts and atom-bombs!

They are being led by Halkett, who on his release defected to the Jovian side and taught them secrets of advanced technology (42).

The population of Earth furiously demands the death of Halkett. The Council orders Crane to refrain from any negotiations with the renegade. Crane and Burnham are stunned by the treason of their former friend -- Crane refuses to believe it, while Burnham insists that it must be true. Finally, Crane accepts reality.

Crane's advance resumes, though this time more cautiously. The Jovians have only a few atomic weapons and handle them inexpertly, but their possession of any at all, coupled with their numerical superiority, makes them a force to be reckoned with. The Earth forces have the advantage of command and control, however, as the Jovians as yet also have few radios (43). Crane uses this advantage to deliver concentrated thrusts into the Jovian lines (44). He also uses the advantage of airmobility conferred to him by his rocket ships to redeploy his forces more rapidly than can Halkett (45).

Though Halkett gave the Earthmen a nasty surprise, Crane is backed by the power of a civilized planet, and the outcome is inevitable. Halkett is forced to retreat, building one after another defense lines in an attempt to delay defeat as long as possible (46).

Halkett establishes a vast refugee camp near the north pole where he collects millions of Jovians, and also large quantities of war materials including his arsenal of atomic weapons. Crane attempts a drive against this base, but Halkett concentrates his forces and builds fortresses around it. Crane systematically reduces these fortresses Finally it comes down to this: the last stand of Halkett and the Jovians against Crane and the Army of the IPC.

At this moment, Crane violates the instructions given him by the Interplanetary Council and treats with Halkett by messenger. The rebel refuses to surrender unless the Jovians are given back their planet. Crane neither wants to kill his old friend nor to continue slaughtering the Jovians, but he certainly cannot grant Halkett any such terms.

Crane and Burnham personally treat with Crane under a white flag. Crane again refuses to surrender, claiming he has "a way out" for the Jovians. He wonders what Gillen would have thought of the outcome of his great discovery (47). Crane bitterly regrets the circumstance that has led to the trio of Burnham, Crane and Halkett being split and put on opposing sides of a great war.

Crane and Burnham leave. The order is given to attack. In a bloody battle, the IPC Army carries the Jovian works. As the Jovian situation becomes hopeless, there is a vast explosion.

Halkett has detonated the atomic arsenal. Halkett, and the last rebel Jovians, alike perish.

Crane sends the message: "Last Jovian base taken and renegade Jovian leader Halkett dead. Jupiter undre complete control Accept my resignation from Council Army. Crane."

And the war is over.


I said that this was a short story in length, and a novel in structure. Note that there is neither unity of time nor place -- the events described take something like 13-14 years, and take place over almost all those years, rather than just being a few scenes separated by a lot of offstage time. They also take place on three planets -- Earth, Mars and Jupiter. The sheer volume of incident is also remarkable for a tale only 10 thousand words long.

How does Hamilton do this? By ruthlessly paring away detail. To begin with, whole hard-fought battles, sometimes campaigns, are described in a paragraph or less (48). Characters are even more ruthlessly reduced to the attributes essential to the story. Of the three main characters, we get a strong sense of their personalities only as regards their opinion of Terrestrial imperialism: everything else we fill in ourselves.

While reading this, I was struck by the difference between how Hamilton wrote this, under the constraints of 1930's pulp sf, and how someone would write this today. For this is a very early example of the genre which we would now call "military science fiction," complete with the focus on battles and the protagonists' rise in rank through the course of their experiences.

Suppose that David Drake, Eric Flint, or David F. Weber had written "A Conquest of Two Worlds", blessed as they would be now by the ability to easily sell books to publishers and to their audiences. This would be a novel, more likely a trilogy of novels, with the characters fully delineated and the battles and technologies described in loving detail.

In a sense, ACoTW is almost an outline of its tale, rather than a fully realized story. This is both good and bad -- the story does not bog down, but I was left wishing for more specifics. I don't know that I ever finished a story, especially a short story, wishing more powerfully that people wrote fanfics on science fiction this old.

The second thing that is amazing is how dark a story this is for one about Man's expansion into space. As I mention in the Notes, ACoTW appears as you enter it to be setting up the "brave inventors and exlorers open Space to Man" situation. The hope of atomic energy enabling spaceflight was near-universal in the fan community of the 1930's (49); Halkett, Burnham and Crane are idealized versions of fans: smart, brave, and technically knowledgable, they are the kind of people with whom the audience would identify completely.

Why, the development of atomic energy and spaceflight even leads to a World Government! Keep in mind that this was written at a time when the League of Nations was beginning to come apart, when in fact the world would be at war again in another 5-9 years. About the only way this could have been better is if someone had found an immortality serum on one of the new worlds.

And yet it all goes So Horribly Wrong. Human greed and aggression makes it impossible to live peacefully with the Martians or the Jovians (50). Conflict leads to genocidal war, the more inevitable because nobody on the human side in a position to decide really wants to end it. The reason why Halkett is so horribly disillusioned at the coming of the exploiters and speculators to Mars is that they make it obvious to him why -- and for whom -- he and his comrades fought, killed, and in many cases died in battle.

What makes the story even darker is its resolution. The good guys do not win. Halkett is ground to dust in the mills of History, and with him most of the Martians and Jovians (51). Crane triumphs, but his triumph is bitter: at the end he realizes how thoroughly he and his friends have been used, and he resigns his commission. Burnham, alone -- because he's the least intelligent of the trio -- never fully understands what happened, but I doubt that he's happy at the end.

And Earth, now confirmed in the virtues of imperialism and with a system for conquest in place, presumably will go on with its aggression. We do not know if there are any other inhabitable planets in the Solar System (52), nor any other sapient races, but obviously if there are any, the Army of the Interplanetary Council will subdue them and take their worlds.

This is darkness beyond even annihilation, because what Hamilton is saying is that WE are the evil Invaders From Space. This might be a common sentiment today -- so common, indeed, that it has become more than a bit silly as a plot element -- but it was fresh when Hamilton wrote this tale, and the impact is powerful.

Notably, Hamilton does not let the ultimate evil of the cause detract from the heroism of the deeds. The Earthmen are shown fighting technical problems, hostile wildlife, and disease. What they do, even with their superior technology, in beating off native hordes vastly superior to their own, requires courage and determination. We moderns should remember this: just because a cause is bad does not mean that its adherents are cowards (53).


The story, sadly, does not name a single real year. However, we can construct an internal chronology, which we can perhaps relate to the real world by the obvious fact that World War II probably never happened.

Now, in fact, Ernest Rutherford first split the atom in 1919, and published his findings in 1921. Let us take this year as the point when Gillen first began working on the "problem of atomic power." This means that Gillen succeeds in 1937 -- a very good year to distract the energies of the Great Powers from war!

On this tentative chronology, we get

Y-21 (1916) Birth of Jimmy Crane, Mart Halkett, and Hall Burnham.

Y-16 (1921) Ross Gillen begins working on the "problem of atomic power."

Y0 (1937) Gillen develops his atomic engine and launches on his historic explorations of Mercury, Venus, Mars and Jupiter. He crashes and dies on his return to Earth.

Formation of the Interplanetary Council by the Great Powers of Earth, to avoid war between the Earthly nations over Martian and Jovian resources.

Anson Drake launches his 10-ship expedition to Mars. Halkett, Burnham and Crane are among the crew. Disaster, defeat and retreat.

Y1 (1938) Weathering leads his 100-ship expedition to Mars. Halkett, Burnham and Crane are among the officers. Establishment of first permanent Terrestrial forts on Mars.

Y2 (1939) A network of 50 Terrestrial forts established on Mars.

Y3 (1940) Subjugation of Mars by system of forts and destruction of oasis-plants; annihilation of three-fourths of the Martian race.

Y4 (1941) Crane given command of the expedition to Jupiter: he spends a half year on Earth preparing 200 ships, with equipment and men. Halkett grows increasingly disillusioned on Mars; Burnham also on Mars.

Y5 (1942) Crane lands on Jupiter, establishes system of forts in the Southern Hemisphere. After a time Halkett and Burnham come to join him.

Earthmen kill Jovians; Jovians rise against Earthmen. Heavy fighting: Crane barely holds on. Halkett first fights heroically, then refuses to fight. Halkett is court-martialled and sent to prison.

Y6-Y9 (1943-46) Slow, systematic conquest of South Jupiter by Crane's forces.

Y10 (1947) Crane begins preparations for the invasion of the Jovian Northern Hemisphere. Halkett is released, and defects to the Jovians.

Y12 (1948) Crane invades the Northern Hemisphere. His forces advance, and then are repulsed by counterattacks with atomic weapons! It is now realized that Halkett has defected to the foe.

Y13 (1949) Reorganizing, and advancing more cautiously, Crane conquers the Northern Hemisphere.

Y14 (1950) Halkett's Last Stand, and Suicide. Jupiter conquered. Crane resigns his commission.

And thus we complete the first half of the 20th century, with Man standing triumphant over the ruins of two races, and many of those who in OTL no doubt supervised the murders of the Jews and Ukranians in charge of the reservation-camps on Mars and Jupiter. What may not Man accomplish in the second half of this most momentous century -- or beyond?

The Interplanetary Council

This world government is formed to prevent the Great Powers from fighting wars over possession of Martian and Jovian resources.  By my chronology this happens in 1937, which is an interesting point in time from a historical viewpoint.

Now, note that before 1937, nothing happens which should have much affected large-scale history.  We may thus presume that this Council included not only America, Britain, China and France, but also Imperial Japan, Stalin's Soviet Union, Hitler's Germany and Mussolini's Italy.

This is important because we know (as Edmond Hamilton certainly did not in 1932, when among other things neither Hitler nor Stalin had yet come to full power) that this list of Great Powers includes four extremely nasty aggressor-states:  Japan, Russia, Germany and Italy -- the four Powers which were in fact to start World War II in our time line (54), and three of which were to commit among the most massive acts of genocide in human history (though curiously, not the most, as Red China is in 1937 merely some northern provinces).

In fact, 1937 is the year in which the first of the group of wars that were later to be known as "World War II" started in our time line -- the Second Sino-Japanese War of 1937-1945.  These wars never happen, because far richer and less well-guarded prizes attract the aggressors to Mars and Jupiter.  It's not so much that this horror is averted, but that this horror falls upon the Martians and Jovians.

Much of the behavior of the Interplanetary Council, which seems so ruthless from our point of view, can be explained by remembering two things.  First, the group of statesmen upon whom everyone is counting to render fair and rational decisions includes Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin and the Japanese military junta.  Second, even the democracies were much more ruthless in the Interwar Era than is the case today.

What's more, there are institutional factors to consider.  While America and Britain seem to be (based on the names of the persons prominent in the Army) the dominant players on the Interplanetary Council, they obviously can't be completely cutting out the dictatorships, or World War II wouldn't have been averted.  This means that, among the statesmen who are setting policy on how to deal with the natives of Mars and Jupiter are Hitler and Stalin.  As we know, even the characters from the democracies have but scant sympathy for the natives.  How much sympathy do you suppose the Nazis and Communists have for non-humans?

One wonders at the politics of the military organization of the IPC Army. Were formations integrated, with any commander and any troops mingled willy-nilly? Surely, such a policy would have been difficult for practical reasons (think of all the languages!) and also for political reasons (how eager would Fascists be to serve under Communists, or vice versa? Would either Fascist of Communist states feel comfortable letting their nationals absorb foreign ways?).

It's more likely that troops were separated into national contingents, at first (in the smaller-scale early Martian fighting) perhaps very small ones indeed, especially for the smaller Powers such as Belgium, Holland or Spain. This could lead to some tremendous "color," especially given that characters famous in our time line might very well have leaped at the chance to join the Martian and Jovian Expeditions.  Military men such as Patton, Rommel, Guderian, Zhukov, Yamamoto ... or for that matter, among the ""scientists of Earth" such luminaries as Tesla, Einstein, Heisenberg, Fermi and Sikorsky.

Generational Dynamics

Those perusing the chronology may notice that the Interplanetary Wars were fought between 1937-50, which means that the people who fought the wars were the very same "G.I." or "Greatest" Generation who in OTL fought World War II and the Korean War. Essentially, war on Earth was averted by the diversion of human aggressive energies to Mars and Jupiter.  One may also assume that the Great Depression ended with the deployment of atomic power and the tremedous demand for war materiels.

One wonders what happens next.  With Mars and Jupiter now firmly under Earthly control, a lot of wealth must now be pouring into Earthly coffers.  The 1940's through 1960's of the alternate time line will be, as in our time line, an age of tremendous wealth and luxury by all previous standards -- the more so because this Earth hasn't been devastated by the Second World War.  The young adults of that time will be a Silent Generation:  those who were too young and thus stayed home during the great epic of interplanetary warfare, benefitted from the victory, but are forever forced to feel obscurely second-rate and denied leadership.

There might even be a Cold War.  With the end of the Interplanetary Wars, and all Great Powers now possessing atomic weapons, surely world leaders will eye each other suspiciously.  The Interplanetary Council will play the role in OTL played by the United Nations in trying to damp down these tensions:  as an aggressive, imperialistic and above all pragmatic organization, it may do better than the UN did in OTL.  Which, given the multi-lateral nature of the ATL's nuclear standoff, may be all to the good.

But then will surely come the Baby Boom -- perhaps a bit later than in OTL, since the major warfare only ends in 1950.  All those children will grow up in the 1960's, and the 1970's may well see the development of a Counterculture.  There may be brushfire wars -- on or off Earth -- to help drive college students to antiwar activism.  As for civil rights, not only will many of the same issues which motivated the college students in the 1960's still exist in the ATL, there will also be the issue of the treatment of the Martians and Jovians (many of the Martians survived the Wars, and while a lower percent of Jovians did, they started from a larger base population).

This alternate time line has a whole interesting future:  one, alas, unlikely to be written, as Hamilton is long-dead, and no one is really interested in the pre-1960's concept of the Solar System any more.  Unless someone is, and he writes fan-fiction?


This is a great and powerful story, and deserves more attention. I suspect that the main reason it isn't more famous is that it is so dark -- it thoroughly subverts the kind of tale for which fans usually read the Interwar era pulps.

Awesome, simply awesome.

(1) -  A distinction less meaningful in the early 1930's than it is today: remember that the concept of "teenagers" as a subculture was not yet popular.

(2) - Halkett, Burnham and Crane are around 21 years old at the time of the Gillen flight and 22 years old at the time of the Drake expedition, based on later textual evidence.

(3) -  I.e., what we would now call a "geek" or a "nerd."

(4) -  The particle-accelerator model of atomic energy, quite popular in interwar science fiction because particle accelerators were in fact what were used to first discover the structure of the atom. Hamilton was writing 15 years after Ernest Rutherford was the first to deliberately induce fission in nitrogen, and the same year that Cockcroft and Walton, under Rutherford's leadership, first split the atom with a particle accelerator. Interestingly, if one substitutes "laser" for "particle accelerator," this is not dissimilar to how we are currently working on nuclear fusion reactors: the key in both cases to a practical power system is to get out more energy than one puts into the reaction.

(5) -  It is amusing that in one paragraph Hamilton accidentally puns the names of two individuals who would go on to become famous science fiction writers, and even funnier because at the time he probably knew neither man. I'm talking, of course, about Harry Clement Stubbs (aka "Hal Clement") and Robert Anson Heinlein.

(6) -  We would today term this device a "plasma rocket." Aside from his assumption of a particle accelerator as nuclear catalyst, Hamilton here has both his physics and engineering dead accurate: the obvious way to directly apply atomic energy to propulsion is by generating a plasma, and a physicist would probably need some serious engineering help to control the plasma thus generated. I go on at length on this topic because pulp science-fiction is frequently accused of technobabble -- here, the terminology Hamilton uses is outdated but the concept is correct.

(7) -  Ah, if only it were that easy! Then again, we know very little of the materials technology of this alternate history -- it may well be in advance of our own.

(8) -  This is not an unreasonable early-1930's guess about the two inner planets. Dead wrong, but then they did not yet have radio astronomy, much less space probes.

(9) -  A fairly standard, and plausible, interwar view of Mars. That the natives are technologically primitive is important to the subsequent plot.

(10) -  As was generally believed at the time.  The modern understanding of the structure of a gas giant had not yet been attained.

(11) -  Hamilton gets it right: space explorers would radio their findings back home rather than report them only upon their return.

(12) -  By dying at this point, Gillen keeps his innocence in his own perception -- he is mercifully spared the knowledge of the terrible things that will ensue as a consequence of his discoveries.

(13) -  Note that name. A man named "Anson Drake" is not going to be full of warm soft loving kindness to all life, now will he?

(14) -  I cannot adequately emphasize how much this story, so far, is following the lines of A Dream Come True for science fiction fans in 1932. The reality was the Great Depression and the collapse of liberal democracy: the dream is the discovery of atomic energy which leads to space travel and an end to war between human nations. This is important, for the Dream is to go so Horribly Wrong ...

(15) -  Making this even more A Dream Come True, if you identify with the trio, as the readers probably did.

(16) -  It was not yet appreciated just how rare meteors big enough to seriously damage spaceships actually are.

(17) -  A workable idea, though not one easy to do rapidly. Then again, Drake is a brilliant engineer.

(18) -  There are obvious parallels here with the first Columbus expedition, in that initially-friendly natives are angered to violence, resulting in the loss of an outpost left behind, and the reason why the outpost was left behind was that the explorer had less ships than he started out with. What is different is that Drake dies too.

(19) -  In modern terminology, "radars" -- though the device outlined, using the interruptions of magnetic field lines rather than radio beams, would be considerably less efficient and sensitive than radar as it was actually developed, and would require some fairly techno-babblish engineering to work at all.

(20) -  It's not so much the UV as the harder frequencies that turn out to be a problem in reality, but of course when Hamilton was writing nobody knew this.

(21) -  He hasn't been mentioned before, and this is a flaw in the narrative. Ideally, he should have been introduced during Drake's expedition, perhaps given some role to play in the fighting. Hamilton is to repeat this mistake with another character. What this shows is that he wrote the story fast, and how difficult revision must have been before the invention of the word processor -- much like spaceflight before the invention of the magnetic meteor detector! :)

(22) -  A greater honor than one might imagine -- I got the impression that there are many military officers who were majors, colonels, or even generals in the service of Earthly Powers who would gladly have accepted commissions as junior officers in the Army of the Interplanetary Council!

(23) -  Thus, it is the combined influence of The Dream and of the idyllic friendship described at the story's start that sends Halkett to meet his destiny.

(24) -  Neither is as easy as it sounds: I suspect that the Martians either once had a higher civilization, or did have a higher-than-apparent civilization, which manifested in less-than-obvious cultural and technological pursuits which the first two expeditions missed noticing.

(25) -  What is remarkable is the extent to which these are good strategies and tactics. Hamilton was evidently knowledgable in military history -- note that he correctly identifies the key importance of logistics in warfare. Most science fiction writers of the era would instead have focused on the power of the atom-blasts!

(26) -  Hamilton doesn't emphasize this, but this is a good idea owing to the nature of orbital mechanics. Weathering is making sure that he can launch or land ships at any time for any destination, anywhere on the planet. The only thing that a modern leader would do differently is to set up recon satellites -- and we do not know that Weathering does NOT do that!

(27) -  Another character introduced just at this point. In Lanson's case, he is wearing a definite Red Shirt :)

(28) -  Importantly, this shows that Halkett is neither shirker nor coward.  His later actions would have a very different moral meaning to both the reader and to his own two childhood friends were he to advocate peace primarily for either reason.

(29) -  This story of course predates the Holocaust. Hamilton's main models were of course the Spanish and American conquests of the Americas, and possibly (if he had heard of them) the Boer War and the German campaign against the Herreros in South West Africa. It is notable that the Martian campaign is popular back home, based on the internal evidence: the Interplanetary Council makes a half-hearted attempt to offer the Martians peace, but the offer is never transmitted by Weathering and Crane, and the Council doesn't seem to care.

(30) -  One of the first uses of powered armor in science fiction, according to It precedes "Doc" Smith's in Galactic Patrol by at least five years.

(31) -  I wish that we would be willing to accept 8% losses in space ventures. But Hamilton is working from historical models that include the early East Indian trade, on which losses of 67 percent were deemed normal!

(32) -  The early science fictional idea of the Belt as extremely hazardous to spaceship passage, owing to a misconception of its particulate density, is operating here. In fact the Belt would be slightly more dangerous than other interplanetary space in the ecliptic, for that reason, but not all that much more so.

(33) -  Pre-dating and perhaps inspiring Weinbaum's "doughpots" from his Venus in "Parasite Planet."

(34) -  At an average of 8' high and 6' wide under over two gravities, the Jovians must be physically very powerful!

(35) -  One could look at this as a tragic accident, or as an inevitable consequence of a learned human contempt for extraterrestrials. It is clearly against Crane's policy, as the reinforcements have not yet arrived.  This is one of several examples in the story of corrupt, institutional and popular pressures defeating heroic good intentions.

(36) -  Playing to "planetary type," as the Martians were somewhat warlike, and the Jovians are, well ... jovial.

(37) -  Few human armies, then or now, would be so merciful.

(38) - Mentioned only here, and never to reappear in the story.

(39) -  Which arouses absolutely no sympathy, and much outrage, from a very pro-imperialistic population.  This makes perfect sense, as most Earthmen have no reason to feel any sympathy for the Jovians, and this is happening in 1942 -- which in our time line, was the height of World War II.

(40) -  One suspects in this the hand of Crane, who must be a very influential person with the Interplanetary Council by now, given his highly visible role in the campaigns on both Mars and Jupiter.

(41) - With both plasma guns and atomic bombs. This is an early science-fictional example of deliberate defoliation as a tactic.  In reality, it has been normal since ancient times to defoliate around fortresses to be defended:  here, atomic energy makes it possible to rapidly defoliate large portions of a superterrestrial planet.

(42) -  One wonders, however, just where Halkett got the necessary equipment to enable the Jovians to produce atomic weapons of their own. Even granted the large Jovian workforce, and pulp-era assumptions about the ability of Lone Geniuses to figure out how to make the tools to make the tools, etc., going from stone-tipped spears to plasma guns and tactical nuclear weapons is quite a leap. Perhaps Halkett was not as entirely bereft of Earthly sympathizers as it might seem? Perhaps he was backed by some factions on Earth being cut out of the profits from the interplanetary colonies, and wanting to take the Interplanetary Council down a peg?

(43) - Yet again Hamilton shows his military acumen: few pulp authors of this era realized the importance of communications in warfare. In fact the next good science-fictional example of this is "Doc" Smith, in the Lensman novels.

(44) -  Strangely, there is no mention here of armored fighting vehicles, or indeed in the story of any vehicles at all save for the rocket ships. Nor are any aircraft referred to in the text. This gives the battles a curiously archaic feel, like the late 19th century colonial wars, but with atomic and beam weapons fire support. This may have been Hamilton's intent, or he simply may not have put much faith in the 1918-19 Allied war plans.

Logically, one must assume that there are at least some utility and recon trucks and planes, but that they are not present in sufficient numbers to enable much in the way of air and mobile warfare. This was the reality of World War One, and of many of the small wars in the Interwar Era. The logistical requirements of maintaining a supply line for them stretching all the way back to Earth may be the reason for this state of affairs.

(45) - And yet Hamilton tosses this away in one quick line -- airmobility, a rather advanced concept for 1932, when even paratroops were very much a military speculation, and the first practical helicopter still lay almost a decade in the future. One is led to imagine a Vietnam War like situation (the real war, not the TV version) with Crane using his rocketships on Jupiter the way that US Armed Forces used their airmobile cavalry in Vietnam.

(46) - Not an irrational strategy, as the Interplanetary Council might weary of the war. But, alas for Halkett and his Jovians, we may assume that the home front morale held firm.

(47) -  Gillen would have been horrified, I suspect, which is clearly what Halkett (and Hamilton) was implying by this question.

(48) -  E. E. "Doc" Smith would use a similar narrative compression in parts of his Lensman series, a decade later.  It is necessary to tell a sweeping tale.

(49) -  I still believe that, as we work the poison of our fear of nuclear technology out of our system, we will ride atomic rockets to the other planets. But that's a whole other issue from what I'm discussing here.

(50) -  Even though they are completely harmless to Man on Earth. Neither the Martians nor the Jovians has attained anything beyond an Iron Age technology, and most of their technology is Stone Age. It would be a long, long time before the Earth would need to worry about an invasion from either of those planets. All the fighting occurs because Earthlings insist on going over to their planets and taking over.

(51) - We know for sure that some Jovians survive in reservation-camps.  We do not know how much of their culture survives.

(52) -  Mercury clearly isn't; Venus is water-covered but not necessarily either uninhabitable or uninhabited; we have only Gillen's hypothesis that Saturn and the worlds beyond are too cold for life, since neither he nor -- as far as we know from the story, anyone, has ever been there.

(53) -  Hamilton's models were clearly the conquistadores and the American frontier-fighters. To me, it also evoked images of the Germans defeating much larger Soviet armies, or the Japanese larger Chinese ones, on the WWII battlefields that when Hamilton wrote the story were still innocent of human blood.

(54) - For obvious reasons, Russia later spent a lot of effort trying to make everyone forget about this, but in the run-up to World War II, the Soviets were frequently aligned with the Nazis against the democracies (most notably after the Nazi-Soviet Pact of 1939), until Hitler decided to scream-and-leap on Russia in 1941.  They were also, most notably in the Spanish Civil War, on the side of the democracies against the Nazis, which shows how confusing diplomacy can be when the alliance structure hasn't yet hardened.  For that matter, Fascist Italy was on the side of the democracies against both Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union until 1935, and Germany was (at least theoretically) on the side of the Republic of China against the Red Chinese until Japan attacked America in 1941.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Reprint - A Conquest of Two Worlds (1932) by Edmond Hamilton

A Conquest of Two Worlds

(c) 1932

by Edmond Hamilton

Chapter 1:  Drake's Expedition

Jimmy Crane, Mart Halkett and Hall Bumham were students together in a New York technical school in the spring when Gillen's flight changed the world. Crane, Halkett and Bumham had been an inseparable trio since boyhood. They had fought youthful foes together, had wrestled together with their lessons, and now read together, as an amazed world was reading, of Ross Gillen's stupendous exploit.

Gillen, the stubby, shy and spectacled Arizona scientist, burst the thing on the world like a bombshell. For sixteen years he had worked on the problem of atomic power. When he finally solved that problem and found himself able to extract almost unlimited power from small amounts of matter, by breaking down its atoms with a simple projector of electrical forces of terrific voltage, Gillen called in a helper, Anson Drake. With Drake he constructed an atom-blast mechanism that would shoot forth as a rocket stream, exploded atoms of immeasurable force, a tremendous means of propulsion.

For Gillen meant to conquer space. Through that momentous winter when Crane, Halkett and Bumham had not a thought beyond their school problems and school sports, Gillen and Drake were constructing a rocket that would use the atom-blast mechanism for propulsion and could carry one man and the necessary supplies of air, food and water. There was installed in the ship a radio transmitter they had devised, which made use of a carrier-beam to send radio impulses through the earth's Heaviside Layer from outer space. When all was ready Ross Gillen got calmly into the rocket and roared out into space to eternal glory.

Crane, Halkett and Bumham read as tensely as everyone else on earth the reports that came back from Gillen's radio. He swung sunward first and reported Venus a landless water-covered ball, and Mercury a mass of molten rock. Landing was impossible on either. Then Gillen headed outward in a broad curve for Mars and on a memorable day reported to earth a landing on that planet.

Mars had thin but breathable air, Gillen reported. It was an arid world of red deserts with oases of gray vegetation wherever there were underground springs or water-courses. There were Martians of some intelligence moving in nomadic groups from oasis to oasis. They were man-like beings with stilt-like legs and arms, with huge bulging chests and bulbous heads covered with light fur. Gillen said the Martian groups or tribes fought some among themselves with spears and like weapons, but that they welcomed him as a friend. He reported signs of large mineral and chemical deposits before he left Mars.

Gillen's radio signals became ever weaker as his rocket moved through space toward Jupiter. He managed a safe landing on that pant planet and found it without oceans, warm and steamy and clad from pole to pole with forests of great fern growths. A strange fauna inhabited these forests and the highest forms of life, the Jovians, as Gillen called them, were erect-walking creatures with big, soft hairless bodies and with thick arms and legs ending in flippers instead of hands or feet. Their heads were small and round, with large dark eyes. They lived peacefully in large communities in the fern forests, on fruits and roots. They had few weapons and were of child-like friendliness. Gillen stayed several days with them before leaving Jupiter.

Gillen said only that Jupiter's greater gravitation and heavy wet atmosphere had made him ill and that he was heading back to earth. Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto were, of course, hopelessly cold and uninhabitable.

Crane, Halkett and Bumham were part of a world that was mad with excitement as Gillen swung back through space toward earth. And when at last Gillen's rocket roared in through earth's atmosphere and landed, it smashed, and they found Gillen inside it crumpled and dead, but with a smile on his lips.

To Halkett, Crane and Bumham, Gillen was the supreme hero as he was to all earth. Overnight, Gillen's flight, the fact of interplanetary travel, changed everything. The new planets open to earthmen brought new and tremendous problems. Even as Anson Drake, Gillen's helper, was supervising construction of ten rockets for a second expedition, the world's governments were meeting and deciding that a terrific war between nations for the rich territories of Mars and Jupiter could only be avoided by formation of one government for the other planets. The Interplanetary Council thus came into being and one of its first acts was to make Drake's expedition its official exploring party.

Drake's expedition became the goal of all the adventure-minded young men of earth. Jimmy Crane, Mart Halkett and Hall Burnham were among these, but they had what most of the adventurous had. not, technical education and skill. The harassed Drake took the three on: and when Drake's ten rockets sailed out with the commission of the Interplanetary Council to explore Mars' mineral and other resources, to establish bases for future exploration on Mars and if possible on Jupiter, Crane, Halkett and Burnham were together in Rocket 8.

Drake's Expedition proved a classic in disaster. Two of his ten rockets perished in mid-space in a meteor swarm. Many of the men in the other rockets were struck down by the malign combination of the weightlessness, the unsoftened ultra-violet rays, and the terrific glare and gloom of mid-space. This space-sickness had put about a half of Drake's men out of usefulness, Halkett and Burnham among them, when his eight rockets swung in to land near the Martian equator.

One of Drake's rockets smashed completely in landing, and three others suffered minor damages. They had landed near one of the oases of vegetation, and Drake directed the establishment of a camp. The thin cold Martian air helped bring his space-sick men back to normal, but others were being smitten at the same time by what came to be known later as Martian fever. This seized on Hall Burnham among others, though Halkett and Crane never had it. The fever came as the result of the entirely strange conditions in which the earthmen found themselves.

Drake's men were in a world in which nothing could be measured by terrestrial standards. The reduced gravitation made their slightest movements give grotesquely disproportionate results. But the thin air made even the slightest effort tire them quickly. The sun's heat was enough by day to give moderate warmth, but the nights in Drake's camp were freezing. Halkett, Crane and Burnham marveled at the splendor of those bitter nights, the stars superb in frosty brilliance, the two Martian moons casting ever-changing shadows.

Then, too, there were the Martians. The first contact of Drake's party with them was amicable enough. The big, furry man-like beings, strange looking to the earthmen with their huge expanded chests and stilt-like limbs, emerged from the vegetation oases to greet Drake's men as friends. News of Gillen's visit had traveled over part of Mars, at least, for these Martians had heard of it.

Drake welcomed the Martians and ordered his men to fraternize with them, for he hoped to learn much from them concerning the planet's resources. He was beginning to see that his expedition was far too small for even the sketchiest exploration of the planet. So Martians and earthmen mixed and mingled in the little camp at the oasis' edge. Some of the men learned the rudiments of the Martians' speech—Mart Halkett was one of these—and got from them a little information concerning location of mineral deposits. Although most of it was undependable, still Drake felt he was learning something.

But the whole state of affairs changed when one of Drake's men foolishly told some Martians that Drake's expedition was but the forerunner of many others from earth, and that the Interplanetary Council would direct the destinies of all the planets. It must have been a shock to the Martians, primitive as they were, to find that they were considered subjects of this new government. They withdrew at once from the earthmen's camp. Drake radioed to earth that they were acting queerly and that he feared an attack.

Yet when the attack came three days later the earthmen brought it on themselves. When one of Drake's guards wantonly slew a Martian, the natives rushed the camp. Drake had hastily made ready atom-blast mechanisms for defense and the attacking Martians were almost annihilated by the invisible but terrific fire of disintegrated atoms. Crouching behind their rude dirtworks, the earthmen, even those staggering from Martian fever, turned the roaring blasts this way and that to mow down the onrushing mobs of furry, big-chested stilt-limbed Martians. Halkett, Crane and Burnham did their part in that one-sided fight.

The Martians had learned their lesson and attacked no more but hemmed in the camp and systematically trailed and killed anyone venturing from it. More of Drake's men were going down with Martian fever and several died. Exploration was out of the question and Drake's position became insupportable. He reported as much and the Interplanetary Council ordered his return to earth.

Drake foolishly sent four of his rockets, with Halkett and his friends in one, back to earth in advance. The other three and their crews, including himself, delayed to repair the damage done in landing. The Martians rushed them in force that night, and Drake and all his men perished in what must have been a terrific battle.

Halkett, Crane and Burnham got back to earth with the four advance rockets some time after Drake's last broken-off radio-messages had told his fate. They found earth, which welcomed them as heroes, wrathful at the slaying of their commander and comrades by the Martians. The information Drake had sent back regarding Mars' rich chemical and metallic deposits added greed to the earth-people's anger.

Announcement was made immediately by the Interplanetary Council that another force would be sent back to Mars, one better equipped to face Martian conditions and powerful enough to resist any Martian attack. It was evident that the Martians would resist all explorations and must be subdued before a systematic survey of the planet could be made. Once that was done. Mars would become a base for the exploration of Jupiter.

Rockets to the number of a hundred were under construction, embodying all the lessons Drake's disastrous expedition had learned. Instruments, to give warning of meteor swarms by means of magnetic fields projected ahead, were devised. Walls and window ports were constructed to soften the terrific ultra-violet vibrations of free space. Special recoil harnesses were produced to minimize the terrible, shocks of starting and landing. These would reduce space-sickness, and Martian fever was to be combatted by special oxygenation treatment to be given periodically to all engaged in this new venture.

Weapons were not forgotten—the atom-blast weapons were improved in power and range, and new atomic bombs that burst with unprecedented violence were being turned out. And while crews were being enlisted and trained for this rocket fleet, the Army of the Interplanetary Council was organized. Most of the survivors of Drake's disastrous expedition joined one department or another of the new force. Crane, Halkett and Burnham had joined at once, and because their Martian experience made them valuable they were commissioned lieutenants in the new army.


Halkett commented on that. "I don't know why we should be going back there to kill those poor furry devils," he told Crane and Burnham. "After all, they're fighting for their world."

"We wouldn't hurt them if they'd be reasonable and not attack us, would we?" Crane demanded. "We're only trying to make of Mars something besides a great useless desert."

"But the Martians seem to be satisfied with it as a desert," Halkett persisted. "What right have we, really, to change it or exploit its resources against their wishes?"

"Halk, if you talk like that people'll think you're pro-Martian," said Crane worriedly. "Don't you know that the Martians will never use those chemical and metal deposits until the end of time, and that earth needs them badly?"

"Not to speak of the fact that we'll give the Martians a better government than they ever had before," Burnham said. "They've always been fighting among themselves and the Council will stop that."

"I suppose that's so," Halkett admitted. "But just the same. I'm not keen on slaughtering any more of them with the atom-blasts as we did with Drake."

"There'll be nothing like that," Crane told him. "The Martians will see we're too strong and won't start anything."

Crane proved a poor prophet. For when the expedition, commanded by that Richard Weathering who had been Drake's second in command, reached Mars in its hundred rockets, trouble started. There was never a chance to try peaceful methods—fighting with the Martians began almost immediately.

It was evident that since Drake's expedition the Martians had anticipated further parties and had made some preparation. They had combined groups into several large forces and had devised some crude chemical weapons not unlike the ancient Greek fire. With these they rushed Weathering's rockets on the equatorial plateau where they had landed. But Weathering had already brought order out of the confusion of landing and was ready for them.

His first act on landing was to have his men bring the rockets together and throw up dirtworks around them. Both of these tasks were enormously simplified by the lesser gravitation of the planet. He had then set up batteries of atom-blasts at strategic locations behind his works, Jimmy Crane commanding one of these and Halkett another. These opened on the Martians as soon as they came into range. The furry masses, unable to use their rather ineffective chemical weapons, were forced to fall back with some thousands dead. They immediately tried to hem in the earthmen as they had done with the Drake expedition.

Weathering did not permit this. He knew that the Martians' source of existence was the gray vegetation of the oases. This vegetation was mostly a sage shrub which bore pod-like fruits about the time the polar snow-caps reappeared. Weathering sent parties forth,
Lieutenant Jimmy Crane heading one, to devastate the oases for a hundred miles around the earth-post.

They carried out orders though the Martians in those cases made fierce resistance, and there were mad combats of brown-clad earthmen and furry Martians in brilliant sunlight of day or black, freezing night. But Crane's and the other parties went stubbornly ahead, destroying the vegetation with atom-blasts. And in the end, with the vegetation that yielded their food-supply destroyed, the Martians in that hundred-mile circle had to retire across the red desert to other oases.

Weathering then split his forces into three divisions using his rockets to transport two of these divisions to points equidistant around Mars' equator. At each point a post like Weathering's own was established, with dirtworks in a square around it and atom-blast batteries mounted. Jimmy Crane, who had shown aptitude thus far in Martian campaigning, was made commander of one of these posts and a Lieutenant Lanson commander of the other. Halkett and Burnham stayed in Weathering's own post.

Eighty of the ninety-seven rockets that had landed safely. Weathering now sent back to earth for more men and supplies. Word came from earth that fifty new rockets had been constructed and were on their way with men and materials. Weathering distributed them equally among his three posts when they came and sent them also back to earth for more. Crane and Lanson, under his orders, had devastated the oases around their posts to drive the Martians back from them.

Chapter 2:  The Conquest of Mars

Weathering's men were becoming acclimated to Martian conditions. The oxygenation treatments eliminated most of the Martian fever, and as the earthmen's muscles attuned themselves gradually to the new gravitation their movements became more sure. It is worthy of note that some of those first venturers who went back from Mars to earth after a year on the red planet were stricken by a sort of earth-sickness due to earth's different conditions.

As reinforcements came in. Weathering continued to distribute them among the three posts of Crane and Lanson and himself. He wanted to establish the three forts firmly before an overwhelming Martian attack swept them out of existence. There were signs that that could be expected from the Martians.

The Martian attacks were growing fiercer. The Martians could see plainly enough the course Weathering was following, and that each week brought more rockets from earth with more men, more supplies and more atom-blasts and atomic bombs. They determined upon a concerted attack to wipe out the earthmen's three forts before they became too strong.

The attack broke against the three forts, so widely separated, at the same time. It did not catch Weathering and Crane and Lanson by surprise—their atom-blasts were ready. But even so, the Martian attack was almost irresistible in sheer weight. From far across the reddish desert surged the furry Martian masses toward the three little forts, coming on despite the atom-blasts that took toll of them by tens of thousands.

Weathering's post and that of Crane withstood the attack by only the utmost endeavor. Halkett had charge of one of the atom-blast batteries at Weathering's fort, on the side that the Martians attacked most determinedly. It was Halkett's battery that wrought the deadliest destruction amid the furry hordes.

The third post, that of Lanson, fell. The Martians got inside with their chemical weapons despite the atom-blasts and bombs of the earthmen. Lanson and his garrison were massacred to the last man by the Martians. Only one of the three rockets stationed at Lanson's post escaped, a little before the fort fell, and got to Weathering with the news.

Weathering acted at once, despite his own precarious situation. He assembled sixteen rockets from his fort and Crane's, loaded them with men and weapons, and sent them under the command of Mart Halkett to reestablish the third fort. They did so, taking the Martians there by surprise, and managed to hold the place in the face of the Martian attacks that followed.

There followed a lull in the fighting, with Weathering, Crane and Halkett holding grimly on in the three forts. The Martians had lost tremendous numbers without dislodging the earthmen, and were in no mood for further attacks in force. Yet they did not retire but continued to encircle the forts.

But steadily the earthmen's strength grew as more rockets came in. Earth was aflame over the situation, cheering Weathering as the upholder of terrestrial honor. The gallant fight of earth's lonely outposts there amid the Martian hordes had appealed to the popular imagination and there were insistent demands that the Interplanetary Council use all its powers to reinforce them.

It meant to do so. It sent Weathering a message stating as much, advancing him from colonel to general, promoting Jimmy Crane to colonel, and Halkett and Bumham and a number of others to captaincies. The enlistment bureaus of the Council on earth could not handle the flood of recruits.

Rockets were now pouring from the factories in a steadily increasing stream. Atomic weapons were also being produced in quantity and every few days saw rockets laden with supplies and men taking off for Mars. Many perished still in the dangers of the void but most arrived safely. Weathering continued to distribute the men and supplies they brought among his three posts.

When the three forts were strong enough to be impregnable to any Martian attack. Weathering began the establishment of new posts. He proceeded methodically to dot Mars with small but strong forts, each covering a certain portion of the planet's surface. Hall Bumham was made commander of one of the first of these. Crane and Halkett retaining command of their posts.

Within a year Weathering had a network of fifty forts stretched over Mars' surface from the north polar snow-cap to the southern one. He had in them strong garrisons of bronzed earthmen thoroughly acclimated to the Martian gravitation and atmosphere, and well seasoned in fighting with the stilt-limbed Martians. By then Halkett and Bumham were commanding two of the fifty forts, while Jimmy Crane was now Weathering's second in command. The two worked together distributing, according to their plan, among the fifty . posts, the streams of men and materials arriving from earth.

With the next melting of the polar snow-caps. Weathering was ready to begin the final subjugation of Mars. From a circle of six of his forts he sent out strong forces to attack and drive together the Martians in that circular territory. This was the plan evolved by Weathering and Crane, to concentrate forces upon one section of the planet at a time, using the forts around that section as bases, mopping up the Martians in that section thoroughly and then proceeding to another.


Crane had charge of the first operation and it worked perfectly. The Interplanetary Council had directed Weathering to offer the Martians peace if they promised to obey the Government's authority. But Crane's men had no chance even to make the offer, so utterly fierce was the Martian resistance.

The Martians had never expected what happened. The furry, stilt-limbed men had ceased their attacks on the earthmen's forts some time before, save for occasional raids, and had retired to take up existence in the vegetation oases remoter from the forts. There they had lived as they had for ages, moving in nomadic fashion through the oases gathering the fruits upon which they subsisted, digging as ages of experience had made them skillful in doing for the underground springs. Now the earthmen were attacking them! The Martians rose madly to the fight.

But Crane's forces were strongly armed and with atom-blasts and atom bombs against their crude weapons the Martians had no chance. Those in that section were mostly killed in the fighting and the few remaining were herded into prison camps. Crane went on under Weathering's order to another section and repeated the maneuver. Halkett's fort was one of the posts around that section, but Halkett and Crane had small opportunity of seeing each other in the midst of the grim business of rounding up the Martians. With that section subdued like the first, the forces of Crane concentrated on another.

Within another year Weathering could send word back to the Council that the plan had succeeded and that except for a few remote wastes near the snow-caps, Mars was entirely subjugated. In that year approximately three-fourths of the Martian race had perished, for in almost every case their forces had resisted to the last. Those who remained could constitute no danger to the earthmen's system of forts. The Council flashed Weathering congratulations and gave Crane command of the expedition then fitting out on earth for the exploration of Jupiter.

Crane went back to earth to take charge of it, first taking warm leave of Mart Halkett and Hall Bumham at the posts they commanded. Crane spent a half year on earth preparing his expedition of two hundred rockets to meet conditions on Jupiter. For Jupiter presented a greater problem to earth explorers than had Mars, and biologists and chemists had been working to overcome the obstacles.

The greatest difficulty, Crane saw, was Jupiter's gravitation, almost twice that of earth despite the swift-spinning planet's counteracting centrifugal force. Gillen's visit to Jupiter on his epochal flight had been terminated by sickness brought on by that greater gravitation and the heavy damp atmosphere. Crane's men must be strengthened to withstand these influences.

Earth's scientists solved the problem to some extent by devising rigid metallic clothing not unlike armor which would support the interior human structure against Jupiter's pull. Crane's men were also administered compounds devised by the biochemists for the rapid building of bone to strengthen the skeleton structure, while respirators which absorbed a percentage of the water vapor in air would solve for Crane's men the problem of the heavy wet atmosphere.

So equipped. Crane's expedition sailed in its two hundred rockets for Jupiter, choosing a time when the asteroid zone between earth and Jupiter was comparatively clear. Even so, sixteen of the two hundred rockets never reached their destination. The others landed safely in the fern forests of the southern half of Jupiter, and Crane began there establishment of the first earth-post.

He found himself with troubles enough. For though the metal armor and other protections safeguarded the earthmen fairly effectively from the greater gravitation, they found it still difficult to make the simplest motions. It took weeks for Crane's men, against the drag of the Jovian gravity, to clear the fern forest around them and turn up dirtworks of the oozy black Jovian soil.

Sickness was rife among them, for the respirators did not work as well as the safeguards against gravitation. The heavy wet air worked havoc with the earthmen's lungs and the so-called Jovian croup became soon as well-known and much more feared than Martian fever. Men toiling in the thin sunlight were stricken by it. Crane's forces were decimated by it. The fern forests, too, held weird forms of life that proved a problem, some of them disk-shaped things of flesh that enveloped anything living in their bodies and ingested it directly. There were also strange huge worm-like things existing in the oozy soil, and others stranger still. Crane's men had to work with atom- blasts constantly ready to repel these strange predatory forms of life.


Out of the fern forests, too, came to watch the earthmen hosts of the big, soft-bodied creatures Gillen had called the Jovians. These had bodies eight feet high and six feet around, like big cylinders of hairless brown flesh supported on thick flipper-like limbs, with similar flipper-like arms. Their small round heads had dark mild eyes and mouths from which came their deep bass speech. Crane found they were perhaps as intelligent as the Martians but were rather more peaceful, their only weapons spears with which they fought off the things in the fern forests that attacked them.

They were quite friendly toward the earthmen and watched their operations with child-like interest. Crane intended to avoid Drake's mistake and not clash with the Jovians in any way while his men toiled to establish first one post and then others over southern Jupiter. He reported to the Council that he would only operate in South Jupiter for the time being. And while earth followed Crane's work on South Jupiter with intense interest, a host of changes were occurring on Mars.

Mart Halkett, still commanding his equatorial Martian post, saw a new kind of migration now going on from earth to Mars. Hitherto the rockets had carried hardly anything but the reinforcements of the Council and their supplies. But now Halkett saw crowds of civilians pouring into the newly subjugated planet. They were magnates, speculators, engineers, mechanics, for the Council was now granting concessions in the great Martian mineral and chemical deposits.

Halkett saw those forts nearest the deposits, including his own, grow rapidly into raw mine towns packed with earthmen of all kinds. Martian fever had been completely conquered by earth's scientists and some of these crude new towns contained thousands of earthmen. There could be seen among them occasional stilt-limbed, huge- chested Martians moving about as though bewildered by the activity about them, but most of the remaining Martians were on certain oases set aside for them as reservations. Refining and extracting plants were set up as mining operations grew, and Halkett saw the rocket fleets that arrived with men and machinery going back to earth laden with metals and chemicals.

Halkett went up to Burnham's post in northern Mars sick at heart. He told Burnham he had secured a transfer to Jupiter to serve there in Jimmy Crane's expanding system of forts.

"I can't stand this any longer. Burn," he said. "I mean what we've done to this world—the Martians, its people, almost wiped out and those left treated the way they are."

Burnham looked keenly at him. "You're taking it too hard, Halkett," he said. "It's been a tough time, I admit, but that's all over now the Martians are conquered."

"Conquered—wiped out, I say again," Halkett said bitterly. "Burnham, I dream about it sometimes—those waves of furry stilt-men coming on and on toward certain death, and my atom-blasts mowing them down like grass."

"They had to be conquered," Bumham argued. "Isn't it worth it? Look at all this planet's resources thrown open to real use now instead of lying unused."

"Thrown open to a lot of speculators and financiers to extract a profit from," Halkett amended. "The Martians are killed off and we do the dirty work of killing them and all for what? So this bunch swarming into Mars now can enrich themselves."

"That's too narrow a view," Bumham told him. "It's inevitable that there'll be certain evils in the course of an expansion like this."

"Why expand, then?" asked Halkett. "Why not stay on our own planet and leave these poor devils of Martians and Jovians keep theirs?"

Bumham shook his head. "Expansion is as inevitable as a full tank overflowing into an empty one. Anyway, Halk, the fighting's over here now so why go on to Jupiter?"

"Because I feel like a murderer haunting the scene of his crime," Halkett told him. "When I see some of these degraded Martians hanging around our towns, begging for food and getting cuffed and kicked out of the way by earthmen, I want to get out of here to I don't care where."

Halkett went on to Jupiter. He found by then Crane had established a dozen posts over the southern half of the vast planet, following Weathering's Martian system. Jovian croup was giving Crane more trouble than anything else and the dreaded disease was often fatal, the death list sometimes appalling while the earth scientists worked frantically to control the disease. They finally succeeded in evolving a serum which was an effective preventive. Halkett was inoculated with this immediately on reaching Jupiter.

Halkett found that Crane was, despite the difficulties, strengthening his system of posts as reinforcements arrived constantly from I earth. He had been successful in avoiding trouble with the Jovians so far—the strange forms of life that came out from the steamy fern forests to attack the earthmen were of more concern than the numberless but peaceful hosts of the Jovians

Crane commented on the Jovians to Halkett the night after the latter's arrival. The two had been outside the post and Halkett had met the Jovians for the first time, the big, soft-eyed flipper-men clustering around him like interested children. Now he and Crane sat in Crane's lamp-lit office, whose windows looked out across the post to the mighty wall of the surrounding fern forest. Halkett could hear the calls and screams of the forest's various weird tenants, and could see its steamy mists rising into the light of the two moons then in the sky, Callisto and Europa.

"These Jovians aren't a bad bunch, Halk," Colonel Jimmy Crane told his friend. "They seem too mild to give us any real trouble, though God knows how many millions of them there are."

He was enthusiastic about Jupiter's possibilities. "I tell you, this is the planet of the future. Stick a seed in the ground and in a week you've a tree—this planet will be supporting trillions of humans some day when earth and Mars are overcrowded."

"Where will the Jovians be when that day arrives?" Halkett asked him. Crane looked at him.

"Still holding to that viewpoint? Halkett, we have to let some things take care of themselves. Be sure we'll not harm the Jovians if they don't try banning us."

"Well, we may be able to get along with them," Halkett said thoughtfully. "They seem rather more peaceful than the Martians."\

Chapter 3:  Jupiter Next! 

But trouble came soon after Halkett's arrival, with the Jovians. Crane had been engaged in strengthening his dozen posts scattered over the southern half of Jupiter. He had not tried to establish any forts in North Jupiter, realizing the insufficiency of his resources, for even the dozen on the huge planet's southern half were separated by tremendous distances. Rocket communication between them was fairly quick but Crane preferred to strengthen the twelve forts before establishing more.

Then came the trouble. It began as on Mars—a bad-tempered earthman at one of the forts beat a flipper-man for some reason and in a brawl that ensued one earthman and five Jovians were killed. Word must have spread somehow in the fern forests for the Jovians retired from the forts of the earthmen. Jimmy Crane cursed in private but acted, punishing the earthmen concerned and sending Halkett to the Jovian communities to patch up matters.

Halkett had learned the Jovian language and proved a good ambassador for he was sympathetic with the flipper-men. He did his best to fulfill his mission but could not succeed. The flipper-men toldHalkett that they had no hard feelings but would prefer to avoid the earthmen lest further trouble develop.

Halkett went back with this word and Crane realized that trouble was ahead. He flashed word back to the Interplanetary Council and it ordered him to hold all his posts and await reinforcements from earth and Mars. Weathering would send on most of the Martian divisions of the Council's Army as rapidly as possible.

Soon after the arrival of the first reinforcements the storm broke. The Jovians had come to see, despite Halkett's attempt at reassurance, what Crane's expanding system of posts would mean in time. They sent to Crane asking from him a promise that no more earthmen would come to Jupiter. Crane curtly refused to make such a promise. Even so the flipper-men might have remained inactive had not by some inconceivable brutality an atom-blast been turned upon their envoys as they left the fort. Crane's summary execution of the men responsible for the action could not mend matters.

For the Jovians, aroused at last, rose upon the earthmen. Over all South Jupiter they poured out of the fern forests in incalculable masses upon the forts of the earthmen. They had not even the crude chemical weapons the Martians had used, their only arms spears and great maces, but there were tens of thousands of them to every earthman. Crane set himself grimly to hold his dozen posts against the floods of the flipper-men.

He had given Halkett command of one of the posts on the other side of South Jupiter. Halkett gripped himself and used all his experience to hold the post. He fought as all of Crane's twelve posts were fighting, to hold back the endless Jovian masses. The atom-blasts scythed them down, the atomic bombs burst in terrific destruction among them, but the Jovians came on to the attack with a sort of mild but resolute determination.

Crane now was fighting to maintain earth's hold upon South Jupiter until reinforcements could come. He sent brief reports back to the Earth. The Council appreciated the situation, commandeered all rockets for the sole purpose of transporting their legions and weapons to South Jupiter. Only skeleton garrisons were left in the Martian posts. Yet it seemed that by sheer numbers the Jovians would overwhelm the earthmen.

One of Crane's twelve posts they did indeed take. A strange sidelight on the nature of the Jovians is that after losing hundreds of thousands in the long attack on the fort, they contented themselves with razing it to the ground when they had captured it and holding the earthmen in it prisoners. There was no massacre as had been the case on Mars. Crane, however, managed with the coming of further reinforcements to reestablish the fort.

The tide was turning in the earthmen's favor. Every day brought in new rockets of men and supplies to Crane and the flipper-men could not face the atom-blasts and bombs forever, even with their in- calculable numbers. Their attacks died away as the twelve forts grew stronger and they retired into the great forests. Any parties venturing from the forts they fell upon. It was the same situation as on Mars three years before, and Crane dealt with it in the same way. Halkett was one of his own aides now, and so too was Hall Burnham who had come on from Mars with the reinforcements.

Crane held his hand until he had strengthened his twelve posts beyond danger of attack, then established at gradual intervals no less than ninety more posts in a network around South Jupiter. He was going to proceed on Weathering's Martian plan, subjugating the planet section by section, except that Crane was operating only in South Jupiter and leaving the northern half of the great planet quite untouched. Patiently he established and strengthened his hundred- odd posts.

When his network of strong forts around South Jupiter was complete, Crane went ahead to conquer it section by section as he had planned. It was a Herculean undertaking for the earthmen. Their greatest obstacle was not the Jovians themselves, who could offer no effective resistance to the atom-blasts and bombs of Crane's men, but the terrible Jovian gravity that made each movement an effort, that required them to wear the metal body-support armor and made their movements still more difficult.

Yet in section after section the divisions of Crane's mobile forces, Halkett and Burnham among their commanders, crashed through the steamy fern forests with atom-blasts and drove the Jovians slowly but resistlessly until they were hemmed in and brought to action. There were fights of terrific fury in the green twilight of the huge damp forests, for few of the Jovians surrendered, the great majority fighting with immovable resolution until the atom-blasts and bombs slew them.

Crane's grip upon South Jupiter tightened with each section subjugated by the superhuman endeavors of his men. He flashed word to the Interplanetary Council that his plan was following schedule. He was conquering sections in such a way as to cut off from each other by subjugated territories, the larger Jovian masses. Then in the midst of this tremendous task occurred an astonishing incident, one that made earth first incredulous and then wrathful. Halkett became a traitor.


The first reports of Halkett's treachery that got back to earth were confused and contradictory. Later ones stated that Captain Halkett was under guard in one of the South Jupiter posts. He had been the cause of the hard-fought subjugation campaign in one of the sections failing, and of a large Jovian force escaping. That was all that was known certainly at first.

Then came details. Three forces under Halkett and Burnham and an officer named James had been operating against the Jovians in that section. Halkett commanded a heavy atom-blast battery and Burnham and James had been driving the Jovian forces toward it. For a score of the short Jovian days and nights the men of Burnham and James had pushed the Jovians in the desired direction, toiling against the relentless gravitation's drag, through the endless fern forests they had to cut through and against the weird beasts they dislodged from those forests. They had without question done their part against the Jovians.

But Halkett had not. He had deliberately ordered his men not fire on the Jovians and the flipper-men had escaped past him. Earth. could hardly credit the news. There came from soldiers and civilians alike a swift demand for Halkett's punishment. The Council ordered Crane to send Halkett home for court-martial.

Crane told Halkett that in the guardhouse on South Jupiter, and told him much more for he was half-crazed with the thing.

"Halk, how could you have done it?" he kept saying. "I've got send you back now and God knows what a court-martial will do you with feeling against you so strong on earth."

"Don't worry about it, Crane," said Halkett steadily. "I did as wanted and I'm willing to take my medicine."

"But why did you do it?" Crane demanded for the hundredth time. "Halkett, if you'll only plead that you didn't know the Jovians were coming through—that it was some kind of blunder—"

Hall Burnham seconded him. "A blunder on your part would lose you your commission but you'd escape a sentence," he told Halkett. "Surely it was partly that, at least."

Halkett shook his head. "It wasn't. I can't explain just what it was, why I did it—but if you'd have seen those Jovians coming through the forest there, weary, terrorized, hunted onward for days yet somehow unresentful—I couldn't turn the atom-blasts loose on them!"

Crane made a gesture. "Halkett, I understand what you felt but even so you shouldn't have done it. I'd go back with you to earth for the trial but I can't leave here now."

"It's all right, Jimmy," Halkett told him. "I'm willing to take what comes."

Halkett departed for earth under guard in one of the next detachment of rockets, while Crane and Burnham and the rest went on with the subjugation of South Jupiter. During the voyage the rocket's officers were careful to show Halkett consideration but no man of them spoke a word to him except when necessary. Feeling in the army against its first traitor was intense.

When Halkett reached earth after that strange voyage from Jupiter, the heads of the Council ordered an immediate court-martial. It took place in the great Army building. Halkett's trial occupied four days and during those days the building was surrounded by crowds waiting to hear his fate.

Popular indignation at Halkett ran high, and many cries for his summary execution were being voiced. People contrasted the gallant struggles of Crane and the rest to hold South Jupiter for humanity with this treachery on the part of a trusted officer. Halkett might have been lynched if he had been less well guarded.


Inside the great building Halkett stood up and heard his conduct judged. The officers who heard the case gave him a fair trial. His counsel argued ably concerning Halkett's previous gallant record, the possibility of temporary aberrations and the like. Halkett might have escaped but for his own testimony a little later.

"I was quite in command of all my faculties when I ordered the atom-batteries not to fire," he said quietly.

"Did you realize, Captain Halkett," asked the presiding officer crisply, "that in so doing you were betraying your sworn oath?"

Halkett said that he had realized. "Then what reason can you give for your deliberate breach of trust?"

Halkett hesitated. "I can't give any reason that you'd understand," he said.

Then he burst out with sudden white passion—"Why shouldn't I have done it? After all, Jupiter belonged to the Jovians, didn't it? What were we there but invaders, interlopers? How could I order those hunted flipper-men destroyed when all they were trying to do was to keep their own world?"

His counsel made frantic signals to him but Halkett was beyond restraint. "What right have we Earth races on Mars or Jupiter either? What right had we to wipe out almost all the Martians as we did, and to repeat it now on Jupiter? Because their planet has resources, the Jovians have to be killed!"

That outburst removed any chance of Halkett's acquittal. The presiding officer read gravely the sentence of ten years in military prison.

"It is only consideration of your former record on Mars and South Jupiter and the fact that you were one of Drake's historic party," he stated, "that keeps this court from giving you a life-sentence or even the extreme penalty."

Halkett took the verdict without any show of emotion and was led back to his cell. Burnham, who had come in from Jupiter in time for the trial's end, went to see him before he was taken to the military prison. Halkett shook hands with him in silence—the two had nothing to say.

With Halkett in prison the world's wrath was appeased. His name was stricken off all the records of the Council's Army. Burnham went back to Jupiter. Halkett spent his days in the shops of the military prison, helping manufacture atom-blasts and bombs and other army supplies. He stood imprisonment quietly.

Crane had moved heaven and earth to get Halkett acquitted but had found his influence useless. Burnham came back and told him how Halkett had taken the verdict. For a long time these two sat silent, perhaps thinking of three thrilled youngsters in technical school who had followed Gillen's flight and rushed to join Drake.

Crane went grimly on with the business of subduing South Jupiter. In the excited activity of that campaign the world forgot Halkett quickly. Crane's plan was working with the precision of a machine, section after section of the great planet being subjugated. Over all South Jupiter those Jovians not yet attacked were moving up into the planet's northern half as yet unvisited by the earthmen's forces.

In four earth years South Jupiter was under earth control. It was gripped tightly by Crane's system of forts, most of its forests had been destroyed by atom-blasts, and as towns grew slowly around the forts great grain-planting projects were getting under way. There were some reservations of Jovians, but the greater part of the Jovians not slain during the subjugation were in North Jupiter. There the fern forests still stretched untouched from the equator to the northern pole, the same as when Gillen first had seen them. But now Crane was looking north toward them.

Jimmy Crane was now General James Crane, thirty-one years old and with gray showing at his temples from nine years of strenuous campaigning on Mars and Jupiter. He had been back to earth twice from Jupiter, once with Burnham who was now a colonel, and both times had tried to see Halkett but had been prevented by strict regulations. Halkett had for four years now worked quietly on in the prison shops making atom-blasts, bombs and rocket parts.

Crane and the Council laid plans for the subjugation of North Jupiter. It was to be done peacefully if possible—the Jovians were to be offered great fern forest reservations and other inducements. But peacefully or not, the planet had to come under control. Crane, who knew the Jovians, began assembling forces on South Jupiter, even as he sent Burnham into North Jupiter to offer the Jovians the Government's terms.

Burnham failed absolutely, as Crane and almost everyone else had expected, to win the Jovians to peaceful settlement. The flipper-men had no faith at all in the earthmen's promises, and no desire to live on reservations. Crane flashed word of that to the Council, which authorized him to proceed by force. A great preparation began on earth and on South Jupiter.

In the midst of his preparations Crane learned that Halkett had been released, his sentence halved for good behavior. He tried to locate Halkett through agents but no one knew where Halkett had gone on leaving prison. Crane was doing the work of two men in the great preparations for the North Jupiter campaign, and could not for the time institute any search for his former comrade.

Chapter 4:  The Renegade

Rocket fleets arrived ceaselessly, pouring men and materials into South Jupiter from earth and Mars. The recruiting offices on earth were working night and day. Crane took the men they sent and mixed them with his veterans, drilled them, trained them in Jovian fighting, made disciplined armies of them. He concentrated men and materials at the equatorial posts.

For Crane was going to follow a different plan in North Jupiter. Instead of establishing a network of posts as on Mars and South Jupiter, he was going to encircle Jupiter with a thin band of earth forces and then push that band northward toward the pole. His circle. Crane saw, would grow smaller and stronger the farther north it pushed, and would drive the Jovians in North Jupiter onward until those not slain were hemmed in in the warm north polar region.

It took two years of preparation before Crane deemed his forces sufficient. Neither he nor Burnham had in that time heard anything; of Halkett, nor had anyone else. Burnham thought that Halkett must be dead. But both had other things enough to think of when Crane began the long-planned campaign. With his forces encircling the equator of the planet, he ordered an advance. The band around the planet began to crawl north.

Fighting with the flipper-men began in days. The Jovians by that time knew better than to charge atom-blasts or expose themselves to the barrage of atomic bombs. They tried a kind of guerrilla fighting which was not ineffective in the dense fern forests. But Crane's forces simply blasted the forests out of the way as they advanced, and the Jovians had either to flee or be slain.

Crane moved his headquarters north behind his band of forces. He directed the band's northward movement by radio, sending reinforcements in rockets to whatever part that was held back by fiercer resistance. Crane chose to advance slowly and avoid undue losses. There was no haste—the Jovians were being pushed ever .northward by the contracting circle. Within a half-year earth heard that its forces had advanced half the distance between Jupiter's equator and northern pole.

Then came to earth surprising news of a check to Crane's advance. His band had been flung back with heavy losses by the Jovians at a half-dozen places around the planet! Incredibly, it had been done by Jovians armed with atom-blasts and atomic bombs! They had prepared a circle of rude trenches and earthworks at strategic locations around the planet and had inflicted terrible damage on Crane's band of men when it advanced to that circle!

Earth was aflame instantly with apprehensive excitement. Until then it had taken Crane's final success as certain—the Council had even granted future concessions to the North Jupiter territories. How had the primitive Jovians come to use the atomic weapons? From Crane, who had hastily halted the advance of his circle, came the answer. The Jovians were being led by a renegade earthman who for the past two years had been training them in the production and use of the atom-blasts and bombs. And this renegade was Mart Halkett!

Halkett had been recognized unmistakably by some of Crane's officers during the attack on the Jovian works, had been seen directing the Jovian defense. Halkett! The man who seven years before had played the traitor and who now had become renegade, leading the flipper-men against his own race! It was evident that on his release from prison Halkett had got to South Jupiter in some rocket and then had made his way into North Jupiter and used his technical skill and prison factory experience to set the Jovians making atom-blasts and atomic bombs and digging defenses for the coming struggle.

Halkett became immediately the supreme malefactor to the earth peoples. On earth and on Mars and on South Jupiter men flamed with rage at his name. A thousand deaths were advocated for Halkett if ever he were captured. Crane and Burnham and the rest of the Council Army's men appeared even greater in heroism against the black background of this renegade's treachery. A fierce desire to crush the Jovians and execute Halkett swept earthmen everywhere.

"You will enter into no treatments whatever with the Jovians' renegade leader," flashed the Council to Crane. "Proceed with the North Jupiter campaign according to your own judgment."

Crane read the message. He and Burnham had been stunned by the news about Halkett and Crane for a time would not believe it. "It can't be Halkett," he had said over and over. "I tell you, he wouldn't fight against the Council—against us."

"It's beyond doubt," Burnham told him. "Halkett was recognized by men who knew him well there with the Jovians. And you know what his views have always been on the Jovians."

"Yes, but to become a renegade against his own race! I tell you, Burn, Halkett could never have done that!"

Yet by the time the Council's message reached him, even Crane was convinced that Halkett was the renegade Jovian leader. He called his officers. "We will begin the advance again tomorrow," he said grimly. "Radio all headquarters to make ready."

The advance started again, this time not calmly as before but in deadly earnest. The band of earth forces crawled forward until it met again the line of Jovian defenses. Crane had flung all his forces forward in that attack against Halkett's line, and the battle was terrific.
But this time the earthmen were attacking, and the Jovians fighting from cover.


The Jovian atom-blasts and bombs, though comparatively few in number and inefficiently handled, yet did terrific execution among the advancing earthmen. Halkett's line held all around the planet though the earthmen attacked like mad beings. Crane at last gave the order to withdraw. Earth was appalled by the casualty lists that were sent home. But though Crane was checked he was not stopped.
He let Halkett's Jovians alone until enough reinforcements had come in to make up his losses. Then he started the attack again, but this time not in a steady wave but in a series of punches. Great spearheads of men and atom weapons were thrust at Halkett's line in a dozen different places. Crane's plan was to shatter the Jovian defenses by repeated concentrated thrusts until it had to withdraw.

Halkett fought fiercely to hold that line. His communications were poor though it was known he had trained some of the Jovians in radio and was directing their fight all round the planet. He had no rockets and could not parry Crane's smashing thrusts by rushing reinforcements to the points attacked. He foresaw inevitable retreat and had the Jovians prepare other lines of defenses farther north toward the pole. The flipper-men followed him with absolute faith. .1

Soon Halkett was forced to withdraw the Jovians to the next of these hastily prepared defense lines. Crane made no attempt to pursue the Jovians but spread his forces again into a band and advanced northward, destroying forests and mopping up stray groups of Jovians. When his band reached Halkett's new line Crane did not attack but began again his strategy of punching at the line.

The battle-lines on the Jupiter globes by which earth's people followed the struggle crept steadily northward toward the pole in the following year. Ever Halkett's Jovians were forced to retreat to new defenses and ever after them came Crane and Burnham and the hosts of the Council's Army, contracting upon them in a steadily diminishing circle. They would ultimately press the Jovians together near the pole and Halkett fought to prevent that.

It was in some ways a strange situation. The three inseparable friends of boyhood and youth become men and fighting the war of races there on North Jupiter, one of them renegade to an alien race and the other two advancing always with their forces on him. No one could accuse Crane of letting his former friendship affect him, in the face of his grim determination. He pushed Halkett's line unrelentingly northward.

And as Halkett's line, the defenses of the Jovians, reached the warm polar regions, Halkett's own military genius flamed. He commanded the Jovians in a way which, despite the meagerness of their atomic weapons, held Crane's forces to the slowest advance. The once-mild flipper-men fought like demons under his leadership. Crane, of all men, appreciated Halkett's supreme generalship in those grim days on North Jupiter. But he punched grimly on, and Halkett's circular line grew smaller and smaller as the Jovians retreated.

It was the retreat of a race—the weary hosts of the Jovians ever backing northward through the steamy fern forests that had been theirs for untold time, throwing up new dirtworks and digging new trenches always at Halkett's command, using every sort of ambush device Halkett could think of to hold back the earthmen. The fern forests resounded with the roar of atom-blasts and crash of atom bombs, strange things flopping this way and that in the green depths to escape the battle, the Jovians all round the planet fighting bitterly now for existence.

And ever after them Crane's men, the metal-armored hosts of earthmen struggling against every obstacle of heat and gravitation and illness. For days they would toil through the giant ferns without meeting resistance and then would come upon the new line Halkett had massed the Jovians upon. And then again the blasts would be roaring in death from Jovians and earthmen as the earthmen attacked. And ever despite their desperate resistance the Jovians were pushed back northward, toward the pole.

Reconnoitering rockets brought word to Crane that Halkett had established a refugee camp near the pole that held several millions of the Jovians and that he was collecting atom-blasts and bombs there and digging works around it. Crane sought to cut this base out of Halkett's circle but Halkett saw the maneuver and occupied the place with most of his remaining forces. To do so he had to abandon his circular line of defense except for some smaller bases. So at last the circle of Halkett's line around North Jupiter was gone, and the Jovians held only those fortified bases.

Earth flamed with gladness as Crane went systematically about the work of reducing these bases. He sent Burnham with a force of earthmen large enough to hold Halkett and his Jovians inside the main base, while he reduced the smaller ones. There was bloody
fighting before he took them. Those Jovians, miserably few in number, who survived in them, were sent to temporary prison-camps pending their removal to the reservations established. Then with that done, Crane came with all his forces and joined Burnham in front of the last Jovian base in which sat Halkett and his battered remaining Jovians, fighters and refugees.

Crane surprised Burnham and his officers by stating he would treat with Halkett for surrender, though the Council had ordered otherwise.


He sent in a messenger summoning Halkett to surrender and avoid' further bloodshed, promising the Jovians would be sent to reservations and pointing out the futility of resistance.

Halkett's reply was calm. "There will be no surrender unless the Jovians are given their rights as natives and owners of this planet. Nothing the Jovians endure now can be worse than what they've already gone through."

Crane read the answer to Burnham, his bronzed lined face set. "Halkett and the Jovians mean it," he said. "They'll resist to the last and we'll have to attack."

Burnham leaned to him. "Crane, tell me," he said, "are you trying to save the Jovians in there or Halkett?"

Crane looked at him, heartsickness on his face. "Burn, it's not Halkett. Better for him if he died in an attack rather than to be taken back to earth and executed. But those Jovians—I'm tired of killing them."

Burnham nodded thoughtfully. "But what are you going to do? Order the attack tomorrow? The men are impatient to start it."

Crane thought, then surprised him. "Burn, you and I are going in to see Halkett and try to get him to take these terms. He won't come out but we can go in safely enough."

"But the Council—" Burnham began. Crane waved him impatiently aside. "I'm conducting this campaign and not the Council. I say we're going in."

He sent a message through the works to Halkett, and Halkett replied that he would be glad to confer with General Crane and Colonel Burnham regarding terms, but anticipated no change of mind. Crane ordered all hostilities suspended and at sunset he and Burnham went with two Jovians and a white flag toward the Jovian defenses. The misty red sun was sinking behind the horizon, so distant from the huge planet, when they reached the Jovian works.

The two flipper-men blindfolded them before taking them through the dirtworks and entrenchments, no doubt at Halkett's order, and took off the bandages when they were inside. Crane and Burnham saw before them the great enclosure that held the innumerable masses of the Jovian refugees. There was no shelter for most but at some sheds small portions of fruit and makeshift vegetable foods were being rationed out to some of them. The crowds of flipper-men, bulky strange figures in the dying light, looked mildly at Crane and Burnham as they were led through the great enclosure.

As they followed their guides Crane saw for himself the battered Jovian forces he had pushed north for so long, with their crudely made atom-blasts and bombs, many standing guard round the inner works. Here and there in the enclosure were large dumps of atomic bombs, protected by shelters. Near one of these was a small hut toward which the two Jovians led them.

Halkett and three Jovians came out of the hut as Crane and Burnham approached. Halkett and his aides waited for them and the two earthmen went on toward them, with the slow laborious steps against the gravity-drag that were second nature to earthmen on Jupiter now. It was a strange meeting. The three had not met together since they had parted on South Jupiter eight years before.

Halkett wore an old suit of the metal body-strengthening armor and had a bandage round his lower left arm. His face was bronzed, and was lined and worn looking, but his eyes were calm. He was a contrast to Crane and Burnham, trim in their metal body-protection with on it the insignia of the Council Army that Halkett once had worn.

Halkett did not offer to shake hands with them, but waited. Crane's first words were confused and stiffly formal. He mentioned the terms.

"We can't accept them," Halkett told him calmly. "We've fought against them from the first and these Jovians would rather die than go to your Jovian reservations."

"But what else can you do?" asked Crane. "You know as well as I do that I've enough forces to take this place and that we'll do it if you don't give in."

"I know," said Halkett, "but the Jovians wouldn't do it if I told them to, and I'm not going to tell them. Besides, I've a way out for these Jovians."

"A way out?" Burnham said. "There's no way out with your works completely surrounded."

One of the Jovians beside Halkett said something to him in his odd bass voice. Halkett replied to him patiently, almost gently. Crane was watching him. Halkett turned back to him.

"Be reasonable, Halkett," Crane urged. "'You can't save the Jovians and there'll be just that many more of them killed in the attack."

"Do a few more Jovians killed now make any difference?" Halkett asked. "After all those killed on South and North Jupiter?"

He looked beyond them, thoughtful. "I wonder if Gillen foresaw any of this that's happened on Mars and Jupiter when he made his flight? What would Gillen think, I wonder, if he came back and saw all this that he started?"

They were silent for a little while. The short Jovian day was over and with the sunset's fading, twilight was upon them. Callisto and Io were at the zenith and Ganymede was climbing eastward, the three moons shedding a pale light over the great enclosure. Dimly they disclosed the masses of dark flipper-forms about Crane and Bumham and Halkett.


Burnham and Crane could hear with Halkett the occasional bass voices of the Jovians that were the only sounds. Most of them were silent and did not move about, huddling in masses for the night. By the inner works the Jovian fighters still stood calmly, big, dark motionless shapes seen strangely through the dim-lit darkness.

Crane spoke with an effort. "Then that's your last word on the terms, Halkett?"

Halkett nodded. "It's not mine, but that of the Jovians themselves."

Crane's restraint broke momentarily. "Halkett, why did you do it? Why did you become renegade to your own race, no matter what happened? Why have you made us hunt you north this way, fighting against you and with a duty to kill you?"

"I'm not sorry. Crane," said Halkett. "I've come to love these Jovians—so mild and child-like, so trustful to anyone friendly. It just seemed that somebody ought to stand up for them and give them at least a chance to fight. I don't care what you call me."

"Hell, let's get a rocket and the three of us will head for somewhere else together!" cried the Jimmy Crane of ten years before. "Some other planet—we'll make out without this damned Jupiter and earth and everyone on them! How did we three ever get into this, against each other, trying to kill each other?"

Halkett smiled, grasped Crane's hand then. "Jimmy!" he said. "You and Burn and I, back with Drake's expedition, three kids—you remember? But we can't change things now, and none of us are to blame, perhaps no one at all is really to blame, for what's happened."

Jimmy Crane with an effort became General James Crane. "Goodbye, Halkett," he said. "I'm sorry you can't accept the terms. Come on, Bumham."

Bumham tried to speak, his face working, but Halkett only smiled and shook his hand. He turned and went with Crane and the two Jovian guides, to the inner edge of the enclosure's defenses.

They saw Halkett standing with his three Jovian aides where they had left him. He was not looking after them. One of the Jovians was saying something and Crane and Bumham could see momentarily in the dim light Halkett's tanned, worn face as he turned to listen.

Crane and Bumham got back to their own camp and Crane called his officers. "We'll not delay attack until tomorrow but will start in two hours," he said. "They'll not expect an attack so soon."

Halkett must have expected it, though, for when the earth-forces moved upon the Jovian works from all sides they were met by every atom-blast of the Jovians. Europa had climbed into the sky by then and Jupiter's four moons looked down on the terrific assault. Blasts roared deafeningly and the thundering detonation of atomic bombs followed each other ceaselessly as the hosts of earthmen clambered into the Jovian works.

The Jovians beat back the attack. Crane concentrated forces in an attack on the enclosure's west side. He sent his rockets overhead to add to his barrage of atom bombs and managed to make a breach in the western defenses. Halkett, though, flung all his Jovians to close these openings and Crane's forces were beaten back from it after terrible losses on both sides.

Dawn was breaking after the brief night as Crane ordered the third attack, one from all sides again with the heaviest forces on the western side. This time Halkett could not concentrate his forces to hold the western breach. The ground heaved with the roar of bombs and blasts as the earthmen struggled in with high-pitched yells and with hand blasts spitting.

They poured into the breach despite the mad resistance of the remaining Jovian fighters, while on the eastern side the earth hosts also were penetrating the Jovian works. Then, as Crane and Bumham watched from the camp outside, they saw with the rising of the sun the sudden end.

The whole interior of the great circular Jovian enclosure went skyward in a terrific series of explosions that wiped out not only all of Halkett's Jovian followers and massed refugees but most of the Jovians and many of the earthmen fighting in the surrounding works. There was left only a huge crater.

"The dumps of atom bombs there in the enclosure!" cried Burnham. "A blast must have reached them and set them off!"

Crane nodded, his face strange. "Yes, a blast and in Halkett's hand. He set them off to wipe out his Jovians rather than see them sent to the reservations."

"My God!" Burnham cried. "That was Halkett's way out for the Jovians, then—old Halkett—"

Crane looked stonily at him. "Didn't you see that that was what he meant all the time to do? Give orders to round up those last Jovians in the works and bring them in.

"Then send this message back to earth. 'Last Jovian base taken and renegade Jovian leader Halkett dead. Jupiter under complete control. Accept my resignation from Council Army. Crane.'"