The War For Mars is a science fiction novel written as though from some author at the end of the Victorian era, trying to imagine the world to come, but still believing in such things as the ether and that steam power will be the main motive force.
It imagines a world in which the three main empires are those of Britain, France and Russia. America has not risen to power. The three main empires are on the verge of going to war over the planet Mars, the new colonies, in a land grab similar to what happened in Africa at the end of the nineteenth century.
The story is, in part, the description of that steampunk war. But the novel is more than just some description of a military campaign. Despite the fact that, apart from the canals, Mars is desolate, intelligent life has not yet died out on Mars, but is hidden deep below the surface of that red world.
Extract from The War For Mars
Vladimir Roskov stared down at the long, dusty Martian plane in front of him. He was mounted on his trusty steed, and his horse pawed the ground impatiently, wanting to be on its way, wanting to run across the open land in front of it. But Roskov held it back. He watched for any sign that the British were about. He and his troops were in lands which the British alleged belonged to them, and not the glorious Russian Empire.
Behind Captain Roskov was the rest of the cavalry troop which he led. This was a proper cavalry troop, with horses, rather than the so-called cavalry which used those steam-powered war machines. Roskov had nothing but disdain for those inventions. Sitting behind heavy armour plating, machine gunning down the enemy? Where was the bravery in that? Roskov lived for the cavalry charge, for the clash of swords, for bravery overcoming the enemy, not waiting for the enemy to advance and then mowing them down with the modern weapons of war. A man and his mount, fighting in perfect unison, charging across the blood red plan. Ah, what could be better than that? It was the things which his dreams were made of.
Roskov wished that he had been born some two hundreds years ago. He wished that he had lived during the time of the Napoleonic Wars. He would have loved to have been in the Russian forces then, as they had chased Napoleon – the first Emperor to bear that name – all of the way out of Russia, from Moscow back the way that he had come. Ah, that had been the time to live, before the coming of the armoured land leviathans, and the other war machines. All that a cavalryman had had to fear back then was musket fire and the roar of the cannon. He could have led the charge against the French; but, for now, fighting the British would have to do.
Roskov had come to Mars five years ago. He had not been back to Earth. Nor did he intend to go back there. And why should he want to go back? This was where war would soon be taking place. Great Britain would soon be forced into war, Roskov knew; but this would be war on the terms of star Nicholas, one which Russia would win. Roskov, and men like him, knew the ways of Mars better than the British. Whatever happened, their tactics would succeed; and they would take the treasures of Mars for themselves. The war between Russia and Great Britain would be fought on Mars, for Mars was what they were fighting for. Roskov doubted if a single fusillade would be exchanged, back on Earth. There would have been too much for each side to lose to come to blows there. But Mars was far away, and the soldiers there could be considered to be expendable. Not that he was bothered by such an idea. No, he welcomed it, for it meant that he would finally have a chance to make a rush for glory.
As to France, and what the mad – or wily, nobody could quite agree – French Emperor did, Roskov did not care. Let France join with Russia, if they wanted to. Such an alliance would be only for a while, anyway, as only one of the empires could have Mars. Roskov knew that if France and Russia joined forces to defeat the British Empire then it would only be a matter of time before the alliance split, and France and Russia fought each other for sole control of the Martian landscape.
If France joined with Britain, its old enemy, Roskov did not care. The more the merrier, as far as he was concerned. He and his men would simply have to fight twice as hard. Or, in his eyes, there would be twice as many chances of finding glory, not for himself, but also for the men who followed him. For while Roskov’s mind was filled with images of dashing cavalry charges, as far as military tactics went, he was a realist, rather than a dreamer, and would not throw away the lives of those who followed him needlessly.
But, although he had no evidence to back up such a conclusion, Roskov did not believe that France would side either with Britain, or with Russia. No, the French, like the cowards they were, would wait until one of the empires had proved to be successful, and had forced the other from Mars. Then France would attack Russia – for Roskov believed, with all of his heart – that Russia would win. But he, and others like him, would have a surprise for the French – for as soon as they forced the British off Mars they would not stop for breath but, with their troops, who would, by that time, be hardened veterans, make an immediate assault on French positions, not waiting for the French to attack them. The intent was to overrun French positions on Mars before the French could ‘betray’ them.
The War For Mars is available as an e-book on the Amazon Kindle store.