Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures

Cover image for Bloodletting and Miraculous Curesby Vincent Lam

ISBN 9780385661447

“Her family, she said, was modern in what they wanted for her education, and old-fashioned in what they imagined for her husband.”

Four young medical school students start out on the road to becoming doctors, sure of their nobility of purpose and their calling, the real and trying rigours of the medical profession still ahead of them. Ming, Fitz, Sri, and Chen come from different backgrounds and have different career paths awaiting them. In a series of twelve interlinked short stories, Dr. Vincent Lam takes the reader behind the scenes of the medical world, from medical school to residency to the emergency room and the operating room. He also draws on his experience in international air evacuation medicine and his knowledge of influenza pandemics to create richly detailed fictional accounts.

Lam touches on a lot key moments in a doctor’s medical career, from getting accepted to medical school, to the first cadaver lab, to the long nights of residency, losing a patient, and even working during a pandemic. “Contact Tracing,” the story about the SARS outbreak, holds up remarkably well over a decade later, perhaps because it could really be the story of any unexpected pandemic.

Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures also touches on important cultural issues. In “Eli” Fitz is called on to treat a patient who he believes to have been the victim of police brutality. He must decide if he is willing to be complicit in helping them cover up the abuse, or if he has the strength of character to stand up to them. In “Winston” Sri is faced with a patient who has had a mental break down. When Winston fails to return to the hospital for follow-up care, Sri has to choose between letting the case go, and stepping outside the usual bounds of the doctor-patient relationship to track down his charge.

For fans of Lam’s 2012 novel, The Headmaster’s Wager, Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures also contains “A Long Migration” in which Chen is called on to care for his ailing grandfather. He travels to Australia, where his family depends on him to call them in from around the world in time to attend the patriarch’s last moments. His grandfather, Percival Chen, is the protagonist of Lam’s novel, where he featured as the gambling, womanizing headmaster of an English school in Saigon. But in “A Long Migration,” he is an old man in his last days, considering his life and possible conversion to Christianity.

Lam’s characters are complicated and flawed, fallible humans who have been trusted with unthinkable responsibility, and faced with terrible dilemmas. This adds depth to the rich detail of the author’s own medical experience, making for an intriguing collection.

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Shiny Broken Pieces (Tiny Pretty Things #2)

Cover image for Shiny Broken Pieces by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Claytonby Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton

ISBN 978-0-06-234242-3

“Sometimes you want something so badly you’re willing to do whatever it takes to get it.”

After surviving brutal bullying and hazing, both Cassie Lucas and Gigi Stewart are back at the American Ballet Conservatory for their final year, struggling to prove they still have what it takes after healing from their injuries. Unable to prove that she wasn’t the one who pushed Gigi in front of a taxi, Bette Abney is still suspended, and neither her former best friend, Eleanor, nor her ex-boyfriend Alec, are speaking to her. After finally landing a breakout role in Giselle, June Kim is poised for her best year yet, determined to land one of the American Ballet Company’s coveted apprenticeships. But her falling weight and unusual eating habits are bringing her under increased scrutiny, straining her relationship with her mother, and her boyfriend Jayhe. Now the upperclassman have a choice: focus on their dreams, or pursue revenge.

Gigi Stewart, for one, has set her heart on revenge. After all, she could have died. And with the return of Cassie Lucas, the last girl who was terribly injured by Bette’s machinations, she has an unexpected ally. In Tiny Pretty Things, Cassie was the spectre that hung over Gigi’s hazing, spoken of in horrified whispers. In Shiny Broken Pieces, she finally comes fully on-stage, no longer a talismanic victim, but a new bitter, angry rival, hungry for revenge and determined to prove herself. Though she rarely carries the POV, her presence eggs Gigi on. Even as the Conservatory tries to start fresh, new pranks and anonymous bullying pile fuel on the flames. And since the incidents never take place in the POV of the perpetrator, there is and added element of mystery and suspense.

In many ways, Shiny Broken Pieces is a book about role reversals. Once the sunny, laid-back new girl from California, Gigi has been embittered by her experiences. Meanwhile, Bette, always used to being a star and the darling of the Conservatory, is on the outs, suspended from school indefinitely. She is guilty of a lot, but determined to prove that whatever her past, she was not responsible for Gigi’s near-death experience. Meanwhile, June has gained bigger roles and more attention, but it hasn’t fixed her eating disorder, or her non-relationship with her father, or helped her decide between pursuing a ballet career and going to college with Jayhe. Her role at the Conservatory may have changed, but she is still the same person, with a dark secret or two weighing on her conscience. Together the three girls form a horrifying and yet strangely sympathetic cast.

Shiny Broken Pieces is full of blackmail, drama, and deep, dark, twisty secrets. The competition is fierce, and with only two apprenticeships on offer, it is about to go to a whole new level. In this respect, it is very much of a piece with Tiny Pretty Things, but with even higher stakes. Lives and careers are on the line.

When Breath Becomes Air

Cover image for When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithiby Paul Kalanithi

ISBN 978-1-4104-8785-8

“I was less driven by achievement than by trying to understand, in earnest: what makes human life meaningful? I still felt literature provided the best account of the life of the mind, while neuroscience laid down the most elegant rules of the brain.”

After ten years of medical education, Paul Kalanithi was on the verge of completing his training as a neurosurgeon when he became concerned about his own health. At first he blamed the rigours of residency, but a CT scan soon revealed the worst: cancer in the lungs, spine, and liver. Early in his university career, Kalanithi studied literature, dreaming of a career as a writer, but was driven to medicine by questions about mortality and meaning that he felt could not be answered by literature alone. Suddenly, those questions became urgent and personal, and the only time left to write a book and achieve that dream was now.

Kalanithi’s February 2014 New York Times op-ed “How Long Have I Got Left?” was a viral sensation. Two years later, Kalanithi is dead, but his book, When Breath Becomes Air, has been on the New York Times best-seller list for twenty-nine weeks as of this writing. It sits a few spots above Being Mortal, by fellow Indian-American doctor Atul Gawande, which has been on the list for eighty-one weeks. Clearly the theme of mortality has struck a nerve.

When Breath Becomes Air is both short (280 pages) and fast-paced. One moment Kalanithi and his wife are considering whether or not to get pregnant, and a couple pages later, she is three months along. At no point does he arrive at the moment he decided to start writing the book, though his connection to literature is evident and explored. The style, the sense of rushing, is literally characteristic of the state in which Kalanithi was living; the timeline he had expected suddenly sped up and warped beyond recognition. When Breath Becomes Air is, in a sense, unfinished, derailed by Kalanithi’s rapid decline. But that is an essential component of its truth, of the reality that he faced.

Up front, Kalanithi admits that he and his wife were struggling at the time of his diagnosis. The long hours of medical school and residency—his wife is also a doctor—had taken a toll on their connection. But I was moved by the fact that his illness reconnected them. I didn’t get the sense that Lucy stayed out of obligation, but rather that the diagnosis stripped away everything that had gotten between them over the years. To be honest, Lucy Kalanithi’s epilogue was the part of the book that affected me most. This is, perhaps, unfair. She had time; time to reflect, and time to polish, a luxury her husband did not enjoy.

Kalanithi’s concern with seeking the meaning of life is largely philosophical, and occasionally religious. He is able to approach his death theoretically and intellectually, in a manner that can almost seem cold, even as it is also obviously the fire that drove him into medicine in the first place. After getting two degrees in literature, Kalanithi put off his dream of being a writer to pursue the medical side of this question, imagining a literary career could wait until after he was an established neurosurgeon and researcher. He is idealistic, and even romantic, still finding his voice even as he loses it. When Breath Becomes Air is simultaneously reflective and rushed, because while Kalanithi is concerned with big, deep questions, he was left with little time to ponder them.

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Further reflections on life and death: Mortality by Christopher Hitchens

Every Heart a Doorway

Cover image for Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuireby Seanan McGuire

ISBN 978-0-7653-8550-5

“Hope hurts. That’s what you need to learn, and fast, if you don’t want it to cut you open from the inside out. Hope is bad. Hope means you keep holding on to things that won’t ever be so again, and so you bleed an inch at a time until there’s nothing left.”

A long time ago, a little girl named Ely West found a doorway, and went on an adventure to a Nonsense world, where she was very happy, until one day she was too grown up to tolerate all the nonsense. Now Eleanor West runs a school for other children who have found doorways that led them home, only to be forced back into a mundane world where no one understands what happened to them. No one except Eleanor. The newest student at Eleanor’s school is Nancy Whitman, and she has just returned from the Halls of the Dead. After years spent perfecting the art of stillness for the Lord of the Dead, everything about this world seems too hot, and fast. Her parents insist on things being just like they were before, meaning colourful clothing, regular meals, and dates with boys, even though Nancy has realized she is asexual. So Nancy is sent to Eleanor’s school to recover from her “ordeal,” and there she meets other children who have had the same experiences. But soon after Nancy arrives, someone begins murdering students.

Sean McGuire builds a cast of distinct characters in relatively short order. Like Eleanor, Sumi traveled to a Nonsense world, and this tiny whirl-wind of energy and chatter becomes Nancy’s roommate, contrasting her stillness. Except for twin sisters Jack and Jill, no two children at the school have traveled to the same world. And even Jack and Jill had entirely different experiences on the Moors (their journey will be explored in the 2017 prequel Down Among the Sticks and Bones). Each world is a reflection and extension of the character that traveled there, so that world-building is character development and vice-versa. And McGuire’s premise is very appealing, locating worlds on spectrums between High Nonsense and High Logic, Virtue and Wicked, with perhaps a cross-direction of Rhyme or Mortis, leaving ample room to imagine and explore.

Every Heart a Doorway uses fantasy and portal worlds as an allegory for children who feel like outsiders, constantly out of place. For many, this rejection comes most strongly from their own families, who cannot handle their strange journeys. Even their peers at the school may struggle to understand them if they traveled to a very different world. Most poignant however is Kade, who went through his door as a little girl known as Katie, only to find that neither the Prism world he was drawn into, nor the parents he returned to, could accept that fact that he was really a boy. The children return to their worlds poised on the cusp of adulthood, grappling not only with the loss of the only place they ever felt at home, but also with their own identities in a world that insists on labels. A murder mystery forms the plot arc, but these themes prove to be the true heart of the story.

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Thunder Boy Jr.

Cover image for Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie, illustrated by Yuyi Moralesby Sherman Alexie

Illustrated by Yuyi Morales

ISBN 978-0-316-01372-7

“Don’t get me wrong. My dad is awesome. But I don’t want to have the same name as him. I WANT MY OWN NAME.”

Thunder Boy Smith Jr. loves his dad, Thunder Boy Smith Sr., aka Big Thunder. But he doesn’t like sharing a name with his dad, and he really doesn’t like the nickname that comes with it, Little Thunder. “That nickname makes me sound like a burp or fart,” he complains. So Thunder Boy Jr. starts brainstorming ideas for his new name, and tries to figure out how to talk to his dad about his feelings.

Sherman Alexie’s new picture book Thunder Boy Jr. is an examination of the concepts of identity and family, as a child tries to figure out his own place within his family and culture, and also who he is separate from those things. Though he enjoys a happy and loving relationship with his parents, he is starting to think about who he is apart from them. The inspiration was drawn from Alexie’s own life, since he is himself a Junior (indeed that was also the name of the character in his semi-autobiographical YA novel, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian). Surprisingly, the seed of the idea for the book came to him at his father’s funeral, when he was struck by the reality of seeing his own name on his father’s tombstone.

Thunder Boy Jr. is illustrated by Yuyi Morales, who received a Caldecott Honor for Viva Frida in 2015, and is also a multiple winner of the Pura Belpré Award. The background colour palette is relatively muted, with occasional splashes of colour, but the bright colours show up more prominently in the clothing of the characters, and also in Thunder Boy’s imaginative sequences. Both background and foreground are beautifully textured, adding depth to the colours. Morales scanned many of the colours and textures from “the remains of an antique house in Xalapa, Mexico,” and incorporated them into her digital paintings to achieve this effect.

Over at American Indians in Children’s Literature, Debbie Reese has written a number of thoughtful and interesting pieces about Thunder Boy Jr. She addresses a few potential issues, including the fact that no tribe is specified to contextualize the naming traditions depicted (potentially leading to the idea that all Native American tribes are the same), and also raises concerns about how the story might further the appropriation of those traditions. She called for an author’s note to address some of these problems, since the 100, 000 copy print run of the book makes it evident that the audience will reach well beyond insiders who already have the context to understand this without explanation.

After the sequence in which Thunder Boy Jr. imagines a variety of possible names he might take for himself that celebrate his own actions and identity, he says “I love my dad but I want my own name. What do I do? What do I say?” For me this seemed like the natural place to address some of these issues with a conversation between Thunder Boy and his father about his feelings. So when I turned the page, I was a bit disappointed to find that rather than addressing the importance of communication, Thunder Boy Sr. just knows how his son is feeling, and decides it is time to give him a new name. “My dad read my mind! My dad read my heart!” Thunder Boy Jr. enthuses. And while this was a touching moment, it felt like an easy out.

Despite these issues, Thunder Boy Jr. is a humourous and touching children’s book dealing with significant themes. Thunder Boy has an honest, child-like voice, and I think kids will delight in the potty humour of his perception of his nickname. Hopefully we can all read responsibly and not take this as an invitation to demean or appropriate Native American naming traditions.

Full of Wonder by Yuyi Morales

The Ballad of Black Tom

Cover image for The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValleby Victor LaValle

ISBN 978-0-7653-8786-3

“People who move to New York always make the same mistake. They can’t see the place. This is true of Manhattan, but even the outer boroughs, too, be it Flatbush Meadows in Queens or Red Hook in Brooklyn. They come looking for magic, whether evil or good, and nothing will convince them it isn’t here.”

Charles Thomas Tester could be called a scammer, a swindler, a con, or a charlatan. He calls himself an entertainer, and hustles for room and board for himself and his father, a middle-aged man made old by back-breaking labour as a bricklayer. Tommy puts on a good appearance in his second-hand suit, hustling the arcane by skirting the rules without ever breaking them. But when he catches the attention of Robert Suydam, a wealthy, reclusive scholar of ancient traditions, he finds himself in deep with New York’s magical underworld. Human and supernatural forces are descending on Red Hook, and Black Tom is caught in the middle.

In Tommy Tester, Victor LaValle has created a flawed but sympathetic character. Though his profession isn’t strictly legal, Tommy’s motives are understandable, and he tries to stay out of the really deep, dark magic. But the idea of making a quick buck gets the better of him when he meets Robert Suydam, and slowly he is drawn into his orbit. Tommy’s father is an honest man, but one who is perhaps too trusting of a system that worked him to the bone, and left him poor and decrepit. Indeed, the relationship between Tommy and Otis is one of the most interesting parts of the story. Sometimes they are a team, and sometimes they are fundamentally at odds in their principles. Nevertheless, he values his father’s advice, and turns often to him for counsel.

LaValle’s dedication reads “For H.P. Lovecraft, with all my conflicted feelings,” referring to the fact that The Ballad of Black Tom is based on Lovecraft’s short story “The Horror at Red Hook.”  Although he is regarded as a foundational author, as best I can remember, I’ve never read any Lovecraft before. My interests lie more in the realm of science fiction and fantasy than the weird or horror genres, but I decided to request the Oxford University Press Classic Horror Stories from my library to get of sense of his work. I was amply aware that Lovecraft was a eugenicist and a racist, but I don’t think I was quite prepared for the level of vitriol I encountered in “The Horror at Red Hook.” Lovecraft describes the immigrant neighbourhood of Red Hook as a “polyglot abyss” and “a maze of hybrid squalor.” But these xenophobic descriptors have nothing on the descriptions he applies to people of colour, from “swarthy, sin-pitted faces” to “squinting physiognomies” and “a hatefully negroid mouth.” His fiction is so permeated by his racist philosophy that he cannot describe a Black or Asian person with spewing vitriol. As Roger Luckhurst puts it in his introduction to the OUP edition of Lovecraft’s stories, the question of race is “not superficial, but integral to his work.”

In LaValle’s retelling, race is equally integral, but explored entirely differently. Though the story is set in 1924, and LaValle recreates the atmosphere of that time, the issues the story addresses feel remarkably relevant today. Facing hostility and even police inquiry into his presence in a white suburb, Tommy observes “Becoming unremarkable, invisible, compliant—these were useful tricks for a black man in an all-white neighbourhood. Survival techniques.” Perhaps the most chilling scene comes with the raid on Parker Place, which addresses the militarization of the police. “At the sight of the heavy machine guns the whole neighborhood gasped as one. These guns were designed to shoot airplanes out of the sky. Much of the local population had fled countries under siege, in the midst of war, and had not expected to find such artillery used against citizens of the United States.” That these passages feel both modern and historical ought to give us pause about the current state of affairs. Much of the horror of this tale comes not from the supernatural elements borrowed from Lovecraft, but from the human interactions: “Mankind didn’t make messes; mankind was the mess.” To some extent, racism becomes the horror at Red Hook.

Lovecraft’s original story doesn’t seem to be regarded as one of his best, even by his hard core admirers. There are lots of guides for where to start in his large oeuvre, but this story rarely makes the list.  My local library stocks more than a hundred Lovecraft collections, but only four of them include “The Horror at Red Hook.” But Victor LaValle has managed to take a plodding and shockingly racist story, and spin it into a nuanced exploration both of Lovecraft’s continued influence on the horror genre, and its correlation to the continued strain on race relations in America today.

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Discontent and Its Civilizations

Cover image for Discontent and Its Civilizations by Mohsin Hamidby Mohsin Hamid

ISBN 978-1-59463-403-1

“People often ask me if I am the book’s Pakistani protagonist. I wonder why they never ask if I am his American listener. After all, a novel can be a divided man’s conversation with himself.”

Discontent and Its Civilizations is a collection of essays spanning the past fifteen years by globe-trotting novelist Mohsin Hamid. Born in Pakistan, he spent his childhood in California, his teen years in Lahore, and returned to America to study first at Princeton, and then Harvard Law School. When the twin towers fell on 9/11, he had just moved from New York to London. The essays are divided into three sections entitled “Life,” “Art,” and “Politics,” but of course the three are inextricably bound. A date is provided for each piece, but for the venue of original publication, the reader must refer to the acknowledgements at the end of the book.

Thematically, the book addresses the liminality of being from many places and nowhere at the same time. Hamid has lived at various times in Lahore, New York, and London, as he is of all of them, and none of them. The tension is heightened by the ongoing disagreements between the West and Islam, and Hamid finds himself cast as an unlikely interpreter between the two. While there are a few essays from the turn of the millennium, most of this work addresses a post-9/11 world. Many of the pieces first appeared in The New York Times, but others were published in Pakistani magazines or Indian newspapers so that we see Hamid speaking explicitly to both sides. The pieces range widely, but it is to this interpretive role that he returns again and again. In the end, you will know a bit about him as a person and as a writer, and how these identities have informed his view of the world.

Centrally, Hamid is concerned with breaking down the barrier between the two identities of Westerner and Muslim. It is the main thrust of the essay from which this collection takes its name, and pertains to many of the other pieces as well. The first draft of Hamid’s second novel, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, was written before 9/11, but had to go through four drafts because Hamid was resistant to the idea of updating it to incorporate—and somehow bear the weight of—this monumental event which so profoundly drove a wedge between the two identities in the public mind. He found the reaction to the final book telling, for though he was frequently asked if the book’s Pakistani narrator was based on himself, no one ever thought to ask the same question of the American listener who forms the other half of the frame narrative.

For the reader who has never shared Hamid’s hybrid existence and transient lifestyle, one of the most pressing questions in all of this will likely be why? Why move back to Pakistan at all, let alone with new baby daughter? One of the most lucid passages on this topic comes from the essay “Feverish and Flooded, Pakistan Can Still Thrive,” which was published in The Financial Times in 2010. In it he addresses his decision to return to Lahore with his wife and daughter, even as Pakistan exemplifies “extremes of hope and despair.” The passage reads “Recently I met a woman visiting Lahore from Hong Kong. Friends of hers abroad asked her why she was traveling to such a troubled country. She said it was like visiting a loved one when they were sick. No one relishes exposing themselves to illness, but when a parent or sibling is unwell, human instinct is to be with them until they recover. Pakistan is feverish these days. But I find much to admire and keep me here, and I hope for the sake of my daughter’s generation that one day soon the fever will break.” It is these moments of utter clarity that prove that Hamid is a deft interpreter, however reluctantly he took up the role.

Beyond this fundamental why, Hamid tries to introduce the reader to a Pakistan that has depth and colour, the details that are so easily effaced from a cursory news report, or a media briefing about a distant war. He revisits significant political events and international affairs, from the assassination of Osama Bin Laden, to American drone strikes in the Middle East, to Benghazi, but also the mundane things, like Pakistani pop music, the experience of the monsoon season, or a visit to the market. Since he has edited little, “each of the pieces remains of its place and of its time.” He has a deep seating optimism and hope for the future of the country of his birth, even as he acknowledges in the introduction that some of the hopeful signs he pointed to in early essays did not end up bearing fruit.

Long and short, dated and still-relevant, the essays form an interesting reflection on the type of hybrid, pluralistic identity that is becoming “increasingly universal” thanks to globalization. And like his hopefulness towards Pakistan’s future, Hamid regards mixed identities with optimism. “Hybrids do more than embody mixtures between groups. Hybrids reveal the boundaries between groups to be false.”

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Arabella of Mars

Cover image for Arabella of Mars by David D. Levine by David D. Levine

ISBN 9780765382818

Disclaimer: I received a free review copy of this title from the publisher. All quotes have been checked against a finished copy.

“Here she could exercise her mind in a way her mother, indeed all of English society, would never tolerate in a girl or even a grown woman. In these moments all shame at her continued deception fell away, replaced by anger at the opportunities denied her by her sex.”

Born and raised on Mars, Arabella Ashby find herself dragged by to Earth so that her mother can turn her into a proper English lady before it is too late, and she destroys her marriage prospects with her tomboyish behaviour. But when her home and family on Mars are threatened, Arabella disguises herself and takes a job as a captain’s boy aboard the Marsman Diana in order to get herself home as soon as possible. But the journey between Earth and Mars is not without its dangers, and every delay threatens the timeliness of her news, or the revelation of her secret. And there is no time to waste, for the life of a family member hangs in the balance. (Aside: Levine summarized the plot of his novel in a filked version of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Alexander Hamilton”. You can watch it on my YouTube channel!)

David D. Levine at University Bookstore Seattle, July 29, 2016
David D. Levine at University Bookstore Seattle, July 29, 2016

David D. Levine sets Arabella of Mars in an alternate Regency England that follows from a history in which Captain William Kidd set out for the first expedition to Mars in the 1600s. This is a universe in which the space between planets is occupied not by a vacuum, but by air. Speaking at University Bookstore Seattle on July 29, Levine readily admitted this was a fantastic alteration. In reality the physics of such a universe would send the planets spiraling into the sun. Two hundred years later, the English colonial presence on Mars is well-established, and children such as Arabella and her brother Michael are Martian-born humans who have never seen their home planet of Earth, or their parents’ native England.

Mary Jo Putney’s blurb on the back of the book describes this novel as the “delicious love child of Jane Austen, Patrick O’Brian, and Jules Verne.” The first comparison is perhaps the biggest stretch. The book is set during the Regency period, and an entailed estate does feature prominently in the plot, but in tone and action, there is really no similarity. But the action is reminiscent of Verne, and Levine credits the inspiration for the airship aspects of the novel to O’Brian’s books, and a great deal of attention is lavished on the sailing and navigation parts of the tale. Additional research was done at the  Musée national de la Marine, in Paris.

Levine employs an old sci-fi version of Mars that predates our current knowledge of the red planet. It is home to Martians, though much of the story is set among humans, and aboard Diana in transit between Earth and Mars. Levine still dedicates a decent amount of attention to the development of his Martians. They are made up of different groups and have a variety of languages. Many have learned English, but few humans return the favour. Levine also reverses the genders, casting the Martian females as hunters and warriors, though most English refuse to perceive the difference, and will hire female Martians only as nannies. It is as such we meet the main Martian character, Khema, who was tutor and caretaker to Arabella and Michael. While Levine does some good development of Martians as a whole, Khema is unfortunately the only individuated Martian character, and one of few named.

Levine is best known as a writer of short stories, and Arabella of Mars is his debut novel. He describes Arabella herself as having burst from his brow fully formed and armoured, already entirely herself. He immediately recognized it as a novel-sized idea, but thought it might be Young Adult. Tor decided to publish it as adult fiction, but with no sex and all curse words dashed out Regency-style, it has good crossover appeal for younger readers. Arabella of Mars was written to stand alone, but with the possibility for sequels. Tor has purchased two more books, and the second Arabella adventure is due out next year. It will see Arabella take passage from Mars to Venus aboard Captain Daniel Fox’s ship Touchstone.

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