What, ho! This classic boys' adventure on Mars has dastardly villains, dizzying feats of derring-do, and dragons.
Twelve-year-old Edward knows he's the mainstay of his family. Absent-minded Papa thinks only of his inventions, Mama and sister Jane are bubble-headed social climbers, Olivia is a priss, and bratty little Putty follows Edward about, stealing his copies of Thrilling Martian Tales and having the absolute gall to be the clever one. Luckily Edward's here to be the man of the house, especially when useless Cousin Freddie turns up on a busted cycle-copter. Why is Freddie acting so shifty? Why won't he explain his absence from Oxford (on Earth!) instead of being a botheration at Edward's crannybug-infested Martian home? Why does he want to see Papa's water abacus? And why does his arrival immediately precede a series of home invasions by a nasty lordling and a metal-faced assassin? Samphire is clearly having the time of his life with this yarn, leavening character types with emotional honesty. It's true Putty has most of the cleverness, Olivia the diplomacy, and Freddie the swashbuckling—while Edward gets knocked unconscious three times—but it will take all of them to save their family.
A bit Tom Swift–meets–early Heinlein (though without most of the -isms of those dated classics), joyfully modernizing space pulp for a new audience. (Science fiction/steampunk. 10-12)