on Siege of Earth by John Faucette
I read John Faucette's novel Siege of Earth 30 years ago and have thought about it frequently over the years. Whenever I read military fiction involving planetary bombardment and/or siege, I think of this story as an example of just how hard and deep you can bury your defenses and resources. And how much a damage a determined resistance can inflict on an invader. For instance, incinerating Earth's surface doesn't deter her defenders one bit. It just infuriates them and fills them with a terrible resolve. That furious resolve and knowing they face extermination only makes them fight harder, and the loses the invaders suffer become unsustainable.
I saw a copy of Siege of Earth in the bookstore today while my mom was getting her hair done and grabbed it. It is a gripping fast paced story that establishes the background economically and pulls the reader into the desperate action quickly. I read the whole 158 pages of the book in a single sitting.
Faucette shows and tells us that the central character, Dane Barclay, is a passivist first and a brilliant strategist out of sheer desperation. His predecessor has bungled hideously in attacking but not defeating the alien Spartan Empire, and Barclay has conducted a masterful retreat back to Sol System and then back to Earth. Earth stands alone against an empire.
The Spartans are in a decreasing returns trap. The time and resources they expend against Earth weaken them on other fronts. They must finish humanity quickly enough and while preserving sufficient strength to deter invasion by their neighbors. The urgency to destroy humanity totally rather being contented to drive them back to a ravished earth is from their knowledge of the insane and insatiable warlike nature of humanity. This is the story's main theme- man's insane and insatiable warmongering. The Spartans know humanity must be exterminated, or they will attack Sparta again. Humanity has been beaten back to subterranean bunkers and caves, but remains unbowed.
The story offers a masterful portrayal of the escalation of the conflict as the Earthers' defenses exact an ever increasing toll on the overwhelmingly powerful Spartans and as Barclay repeatedly counters the Spartan commander's attacks brilliantly. Interspersed are glimpses of Barclay's humanity and hatred of war seen in poignant vignettes as members of his family become casualties and he is wounded. Things are getting hopelessly fraught when at last Earth's defenses finally begin to crumble, but I won't spoil the ending.