Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The War of Two Worlds/Poul Anderson

This short novel was originally published in 1953 under the title "Silent Victory" in the pulp TWO COMPLETE SCIENCE-ADVENTURE NOVELS, and then later was reprinted as THE WAR OF TWO WORLDS as half of Ace Double D-335, which is where I read it. Poul Anderson has never been one of my favorite authors, but he could be counted on for consistently entertaining work, and that's the case here.

THE WAR OF TWO WORLDS takes us back to the Solar System as it was originally portrayed in SF, with life on other planets -- or at least one other planet, in this case Mars. This novel begins where some would end, as a long, bloody war between the Terrans and the Martians finally grinds to a halt with the Martians emerging victorious. The narrator and hero, a spacer with the United Nations forces, returns to a defeated Earth under Martian occupation. But not all is as it seems, and before you know it, we're off on a cross-country adventure that at times reads more like hardboiled crime fiction than SF.

The short length and pulp origins means that the story is almost all action without much characterization, but there are some nice plot twists along the way and the pace seldom lets up for very long. Not a great book, but I found it pretty enjoyable.

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