POUL ANDERSON – The War of Two Worlds. Ace Double D-355, paperback, 1959. Novella. Published back to back with Threshold of Eternity, by John Brunner (reviewed here ). Cover by Ed Valigursky. Reprinted in The Worlds of Poul Anderson (Ace, paperback, 1974).

   Aliens forced from Sirius instigate the Earth-Mars war by taking the form of top leaders of both sides, so that after the defeat of Earth by Mars, the conquest of both planets will be easier. An ex-spaceman returns to Earth after the war and becomes the object of a countrywide hunt after he learns the truth. The aliens are exposed after they believe he and his Martian friend have been killed.

   A clever but obvious idea that ends much too easily. The best scenes are those of a conquered Earth under Martian rule. After the introduction of the aliens and their story, there is little left but the usual chase-and-hunt. Somehow should have been better.

Rating: ***