I’m not a big fan of steam-punk SF, but I’d read enough positive reviews of David D. Levine’s Arabella of Mars to order a copy (plus I liked the cover artwork by Stephan Martiniere). Levine creates a Mars of 1812. There is a British colony on Mars. Arabella, her older brother Michael, her father and mother, and her two younger sisters live in an uneasy association with Martian tribes. After an incident where Arabella is hurt, her mother (who hates Mars) insists on returning to London with her children. Arabellas’s father, knowing his wife’s dislike of the red planet, agrees but negotiates to keep Michael on Mars to help him operate the family plantation. His wife agrees and leaves for Earth. Yes, the scenes of “sailing” through Space in wooden ships seems a bit wacky (I found Levine’s explanations unconvincing). But if you suspend your skepticism, Arabella of Mars accelerates into an entertaining adventure novel. Arabella decides she has to return to Mars so she disguises herself as a teenage boy. The mysterious Captain of a Mars Trading Company ship, Diana, hires Arabella because of her skill with clockwork mechanisms. Yes, sometimes the action feels like C. S. Forester’s Hornblower books (or Patrick O’Brian’s Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin seafaring novels). Only set in Space between Earth and Mars. If you’re in the mood for a fun adventure, Arabella in Mars will take you on one. GRADE: B

13 thoughts on “ARABELLA OF MARS By David D. Levine

  1. Patti Abbott

    Learning to negotiate other worlds always seems like too much work. I think you have to begin in childhood and I read only the most realistic books.

      1. george Post author

        Rick, you’re right (as usual!). I meant decedents. Having a female central character who experiences a series of strange adventures is the analogy I was trying to make between ARABELLA OF MARS and ALICE IN WONDERLAND.

  2. Beth Fedyn

    I bought a book of short stories in New Orleans, which proved to be steampunk.

    I tried three and got nowhere. I passed it on to my pal, Keith Johnson, who actually enjoyed this stuff.

    Warning: If you see Victorian clothes and a dirigible on the cover, it’s probably steampunk. In the future, I’ll pass.

  3. Jeff Meyerson

    I don’t mind steampunk occasionally. Like Bill, I’ve read Scott Westerfeld’s LEVIATHAN series (Beth, it’s WWI and a dirigible, but otherwise, you’re close!) and enjoyed it without loving it. It depends on how well the author pulls it off.

  4. Scott Cupp

    George – I got this last summer and really enjoyed it. Not a huge steampunk fan but liked the overall story and the adventure aspects. I’ll be picking up the sequel qhen it comes out.


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