Posted in Short Story

Deal Me In, Week 36 ~ “The Martian Agent”


Hosted by Jay @ Bibliophilopolis

“The Martian Agent, A Planetary Romance” by Michael Chabon

Card picked: King of Spades

From: McSweeney’s Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales, ed. by Michael Chabon

Thoughts: Franklin and Jefferson’s father is a traitor to the Crown. The entire family is apprehended as they raced to the border after General Custer’s surrender (this is seemingly the second Revolutionary War). Their father is executed, their mother dies of a stroke, and the boys are claimed by their Tory uncle, aeronaut Sir Thomas Mordden. And…

And, that’s all of this story that readers get. There’s a note that the story will continue in McSweeney’s Second Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales…which does not exist.

On one hand, I’m annoyed. This is probably my favorite pieces of steampunk fiction. There are armored “land sloops” and airships and, obviously, a dash of alternative history in which the British Empire never lost the colonies. And it’s my favorite because it all takes a back seat to the relationship that the two boys, Frank and Jeff, have with each other and the world. (One could almost call that a Chabonian trope, but I like it.)

On the other hand, an i09 story details the rest of what Chabon had in mind—that this would be a Mars adventure a la John Carter of Mars. That interests me a lot less. I’d probably still read it though…


Writer, publisher. Hobbies include reading, studying magic & illusions from a historical/theoretical perspective, and playing ultimate frisbee.

3 thoughts on “Deal Me In, Week 36 ~ “The Martian Agent”

  1. I think I’d be annoyed “on both hands.” 🙂 Steampunk & alternate history are genres I’m getting more & more interested in since I started blogging.

    1. I like steampunk (though I have some rather specific ideas about it) and I’m okay with alternate history. It’s the going to Mars part that makes me heave a sigh. It’s weird the things for which I will and won’t suspend my disbelief.

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