Rebels of The Red Planet – Charles L Fontenay (1961)
‘Dark Kensington had been dead for twenty-five years. It was a fact; everyone knew it. Then suddenly he reappeared, youthful, brilliant, ready to take over the Phoenix, the rebel group that worked to overthrow the tyranny that gripped the settlers on Mars.
The Phoenix had been destroyed not once, not twice, but three times! But this time the resurrected Dark had new plans, plans which involved dangerous experiments in mutation and psionics.
And now the rebels realized they were in double jeopardy. Not only from the government’s desperate hatred of their movement, but also from the growing possibility that the new breed of mutated monsters would get out of hand and bring terrors never before known to man.” (Summary from Project Gutenberg text)
This is a sadly under-rated novel, based on a Mars, which although colonised for some time, is in the grip of the Mars Corporation who control imports to sell to the dome-bound colonists. A revolutionary group, The Phoenix, attempted to break their monopoly some years back, both by genetically engineering humans to adapt to the Martian climate, and developing telepathic and telekinetic powers.
One of the Leaders, Dark Kensington, disappeared, while ‘Goat’ Hennessey, the scientist in charge of genetic engineering, was captured by Mars Corp. and now works for them.
Twenty-five years later, Dark Kensington appears to have returned, looking no older, and being pursued by Martian Government Agent S. Newell Eli, and the Terran agent, Maya Cara Nome.
Somewhat noir-ish in tone, the deceptively short novel rushes along at a breakneck pace, combining such disparate elements as Revolutionary groups based in a Martian barber’s shop, an ancient Martian race very reminiscent of the Bleakmen of Dick’s ‘Martian Time Slip’, suave revolutionaries, telekinesis, romance, breakneck chases across the Martian desert and strange human mutations.