Adrienne Martini reviews Carrie Vaughn

Martians Abroad, Carrie Vaughn (Tor 978-0-7653-8220-7, $25.99, 336pp, hc) January 2017.

Carrie Vaughn’s Martians Abroad clearly shares DNA with Heinlein’s juveniles, and is, the author states, and homage to Podkayne of Mars. There are young people filled with a can-do attitude about problem solving and space travel. There are kids trapped in an academic system that, while it feels it knows best, clearly doesn’t. The main character has derring-do. In Vaughn’s take, Polly would just as soon be left to her own devices on her home planet.

That’s not to be. Polly’s mom, who is the head of the established Martian colony, ships her and her sort-of twin brother Charles to Galileo Academy on Earth. Neither sibling is keen on the idea. Charles adapts more quickly, mostly because he views it as just another social engi­neering problem to solve. Polly runs out of ways to get out of it and goes along because it will likely bring her closer to being a pilot.

As you might anticipate, the transition to Earth and Galileo doesn’t go smoothly. Off-planet kids are the target of bullying. Plus, the de-facto headmaster is either a) really bad at her job or b) willing to risk the lives of her students for financial gain. Polly and crew have adven­tures, learn things, and grow. While the third act crisis involving a shuttle seems a little too convenient, the whole story is great fun. Your Heinlein itch will be scratched in a 21st-century way, if you let it.

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