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The Martian Child: A Novel About A Single Father Adopting A Son Paperback – Jun 15 2003


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; First Edition edition (June 15 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765306026
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765306029
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 1.3 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 23 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,694,197 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Gerrold, a Nebula and Hugo Award winner, proffers this tale of adoption and fatherly love for the adoptive parents of troubled children. The quasi-fictional protagonist, David, decides that he wants to be "a dad" and initiates adoption procedures through the mind-numbing California bureaucracy. He stumbles upon a photograph of eight-year-old Dennis, a slight, blond boy abandoned by an alcoholic mother as a baby, who is approaching the age when placement is doubtful. Although David had not counted on having a "problem child" for a son, he eagerly embraces the idea. For about two years, he deals with being a single, gay parent of a child who insists that he is a "Martian," a common psychological defense mechanism used by abused and neglected children. The account moves quickly and somewhat sporadically and selectively through about 24 months of adjustment, doubt and finally acceptance of a situation that often has the potential for disaster, although no genuine crises are detailed. The biggest question is why the story is presented in fictional form. As Gerrold explicitly states, it is based on reality, and no point seems to be served in manufacturing details, except, perhaps, that it allows Gerrold to focus on the thesis that lavish applications of love, patience and understanding (along with a bit of medication) can overcome any child's difficulties and create a marvelous father-son relationship and a successful adoptive process. Because it doesn't thoroughly address such serious potential problems as Dennis's propensity for petty theft and violence, the resulting story is less than believable. Readers interested in the topic might better turn to the several nonfiction works available on the subject.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Ten years ago, sf and fantasy writer Gerrold, a single, gay man, saw a photo of a towheaded kid bursting with life and fell in love. It wasn't what small minds might think, for Gerrold was looking for an adoptive son in California, which allows gays and singles to adopt. Gerrold eventually took Dennis, the child in the photo, home and began the work of earning the acceptance of a hyperactive, severely insecure eight-year-old who desperately wanted a father but thought of himself as a Martian and, therefore, probably unworthy. Gerrold's memoir of the first two years Dennis was with him ends with the crisis of Dennis running away and waiting in a city park at night for the saucers to come and whisk him back to a world he might be able to manage. Although Dennis is the reason for the book, Gerrold keeps the focus on himself and his responses to Dennis, not to mention his insecurities over perhaps having bitten off more than he...can chew. The heart-searing moments are many but never overwritten, thanks to Gerrold's bright, efficient exposition. And yes, the crisis was overcome. Dennis, now 17, "shows dangerous signs of maturity and responsibility." Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Format: Hardcover
I just bought and read this book, after reading the original novella in an anthology (Probably the Hugo winners for that year, but I'm not sure). I just wanted to say that the reviewers who don't understand the "whole martian concept" or who wonder why the book is presented as fiction are missing what I see as the central point. That is, if the book is nonfiction, we must immediately leap to the conclusion that Dennis's social worker does in the book (and that many reviewers do), that saying he's a martian is a psychological defense mechanism. However, since the book is presented as fiction, and is written by a science fiction author, we the readers are forced to wonder if Dennis *really is* a Martian. Casting the book as fiction also allows the author's real-life adopted son to maintain some privacy--we, the general readers, don't know which details are made up and which come from real life. I do agree that if you're only going to read one book in order to form an impression of older-child adoption, this one probably shouldn't be it. However, no one is limited to only reading one book, so that isn't really a problem.
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Format: Paperback
Books about gay men adopting children are becoming more prevalent nowadays. With a strong interest in children myself, I always like learning about how gay men have overcome the "obstacles" and charged ahead with creating their own families. "The Martian Child", David Gerrold's book, is an attempt to add a voice to that genre, but I'm afraid, a somewhat weak one, overall.
David Gerrold chronicles his decision to expand his little family by adopting a child. After seeing a picture of a smiling blond boy riding a bike, he eagerly elects to choose that child. But after finding out the host of issues this child brings to life, including the fact that he insists he's a Martian, the author momentarily struggles with his decision, eventually adopting the boy.
The story that follows is a somewhat surface level glimpse into this world which Gerrold created for himself. Based on his own experiences, which would lend itself to having the two "characters" more deeper and complex, I found them to be somewhat shallow. The father, whose only role is to slurp unconditional love on his son, seems to be one dimensional. It's only towards the end of the book where he opens up and we seem more dissension and questioning about his decision. The boy, who's riddled with emotional issues, also comes across as flat, but who should be an intriguing character.
Because I didn't hook into the characters, the plot, as it meanders through the establishment of their relationship and the eventual adoption, never brought forth strong emotions or attachments. By the end of the story, I came to appreciate Gerrold's decision to have such a challenging child in his family, but still not truly understanding why. Maybe the entire "Martian" theme through me.
If you are looking for books on gay men adopting kids, I'd recommend Dan Savage's "The Kid" or Jesse Green's "The Velveteen Father", both worthy, emotional books that get to the heart of the matter. Otherwise, I'd leave this book on Mars itself.
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Format: Hardcover
I may have heard this story maybe a dozen times, first I read (more than once) the novella which won the coveted Hugo award, and which I recommended to everyone. Then I listened to the story on CD, and I have now read the expanded story in book form. I have to confess that David is a good friend and I know "the martian child" personally. While I loved the novella, the expanded book blew me away. I thought I was immune to the emotion that it evoked, but the book sent me back to the Kleenex box as I re-read the story of the adoption of David's son. Yes, this is a fiction book (I don't *think* Dennis is really a Martian--if so, I can think of a couple of Martian wishes he owes me), but so much of this book is factual that it reads like an autobiography. I gave this book to everyone I care about for Christmas and am still ordering copies of it to share with people. It's a short read, but one of the best books I read in 2002. And I don't just say that so David will send me chocolate either.
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Format: Hardcover
What a sentimental and beautifully told story. A semi-autobiographical novel about a single man, who is a fiction writer, and adopts an 8 year-old boy named Dennis. Dennis, who was abandoned by his mother, and listed by the adoption agency as "hard to place", is an unwanted child of many foster homes, who believes his real home is the planet Mars. The story is based upon Gerrold's own experience as a single, gay, adoptive father. However, Gerrold puts all the "gay" and "single" problems in the background, and focuses on the struggles, disappointments and obstacles, that make becoming & being an adoptive parent so difficult. It's a wonder that any of these unfortunate, abandoned children ever get adopted, with all the red-tape and processing that one has to go through before adopting. Gerrold finds Dennis more than a hand-full, with some difficult issues to resolve, but his perseverance, love, and dedication to his new son are stronger than any hardships he may have to endure.

I found I got so involved in this story, I could not put it down, and finished the book in one night. You will find yourself drawn into the emotional turmoil and heartache that the author faces, and celebrate in the joy that he finally realizes in sharing his love, home and happiness with his son. As a single gay parent, Gerrold adds his name to the list of many gay men and lesbians who are helping to redefine family by giving these troubled and abused children an opportunity to live a life of love, happiness, and stability. Three cheers for David Gerrold! A caring and dedicated father.

Joe Hanssen
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