RETURN TO MARS
First Published on 8th September 1955 - 160 pages
Professor Brane, 'Tiger' Clinton, his son Rex and the Professor's butler, Judkins, travel back to Mars. They are joined by a fifth companion, Squadron Leader Clarence Paul M.D., nicknamed 'Toby' on account of his looks. Nearly a year has passed since the events of 'Kings of Space' and the Professor has designed and constructed a new and larger 'Spacemaster II' to travel through space. The Professor has also produced a new insecticide to deal with the mosquitoes. This is not a poison but an organic compound calculated to set up a hunger phobia in which the insects not only gorge themselves to death but also pass on the deadly dose. They initially land on Phobos again, in the same place they did previously. Here, where previously there was one body, there are now three. Going on to Mars, our heroes are astonished by the size of the mosquito swarms. They return to the original City on Mars that there arrived at before and they name it Utopia, for want of a better name. The Professor begins the spraying of the insecticide and some strange side-effects are noticed. Rex sees a large mosquito and then an enormous ant and bat. Visiting several houses in Utopia, our heroes find a man still alive but apparently dreadfully ill. He is dressed in clothes that look Roman or ancient Greek. The man is able to speak through Rex, using a form of telepathy. Toby treats him and finds out his name is Vargo. Vargo recovers at a phenomenal rate and begins to learn to speak English. He is vastly intelligent and over a period of time soon picks up the basics. Rex has an encounter with a giant snake. The Professor's insecticide is proving to be very effective, but creatures are growing to great size as are the plants, the concoction acting as a tremendous fertiliser. Time passes and eventually Vargo is able to give an explanation of sorts. His name is Vargo Lentos, his second name being the planet where he was born. An ancient world called Kraka, near to Jupiter was destroyed in an unexplained catastrophe and the entire Solar System was changed. Mars had been devastated and the Martian inhabitants that had survived had gone to live on other worlds, until they were able to return to their original home. Water, being a first consideration, had led to canals being dug on Mars, but a weed had appeared from which had come insects in countless numbers, bringing death in such numbers that the survivors had fled back to their temporary homes on the planetoids. Vargo was the last survivor of a scientific party trying to find a way of dealing with the mosquito problem. Vargo is asked why they never tried to colonise Earth and he delivers a bombshell by telling everybody that a tiny planet (named Vontor) is on a collision course with Earth and will drag away the atmosphere. The heat by friction will scorch Earth to a cinder! The next morning, as plans are being discussed about how to save the Earth, Rex sees his father, Tiger, being captured by the crew of another spacecraft and taken away! Vargo recognises the description of the ship as being that of Rolto Mino, a captain of the Remote Survey Fleet. Vargo believes Rolto would have taken Tiger to his home planet of Mino, which is also the home of the High Council. Travelling to Mino (which on Earth has been called Ceres) they are intercepted by Rolto's craft. His crew use the strength of their alien will power to try to drag the Spacemaster into the gravity of Jupiter and so destroy it. Saved by other alien spaceships, at last our heroes make it to the relative safety of Mino. Rolto has fallen out with the High Council due to his aggressive views about Earth and is now on the planet Lentos. Rex and Toby are allowed to travel with Vargo, in an alien spacecraft that is being sent to go and collect Rolto. Rolto is captured and Tiger is rescued. Returning to Mino to collect the Professor it is then onto Vontor as the High Council has been persuaded to help to destroy it before it can collide with Earth. Vontor is destroyed by the Minoans by using an atomic bomb exploded by heat reflected from the sun. Returning to Minos, Rex meets a local girl called Morino and gets to try wing flying, a local fun activity enabled by the different gravity on Minos. Passing the time, Tiger, Toby and Rex get to visit a planet where the vegetation rules supreme. When the time comes to return to Mars and then Earth, the Spacemaster is given a tow by a Minoan spacecraft captained by Gator Faro. This turns out to be very fortunate as a minor accident seriously damages the Spacemaster. The steel walls appear to have become rotten and begin to crumble. Our heroes, (including the rarely mentioned butler, Judkins), are able to transfer over to the Minoan craft. The Spacemaster is to be dropped on Phobos, in case anything needs to be salvaged at a future date. Our heroes return to the Professor's Scottish home and have a friendly confrontation with a journalist out looking for 'Flying Saucers'.
Return to Mars
Subtitle - Professor Brane and his crew, of Kings of Space fame, return in their spaceship to Mars, to investigate the situation there again, to see whether they can find any inhabitants, and to try out the effect of a new insecticide. They find more than they have bargained for, but, in spite of the dangers involved for them, it turns out to be a good thing for Earth that they did go back.
Publication Details - published by Hodder and Stoughton
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Original first edition boards