Excitement here on the blog, because we have a Guest Post – this doesn’t happen very often but my friend Charlotte read the Mars Trilogy (with her daughters reading the first instalment) and kindly wrote a review for me. 

Paul Magrs – “The Mars Trilogy”

The very fact that the family in ‘Lost on Mars’ by Dr. Who writer, Paul Magrs, is the ‘Robinson family’ suggests that this series of books will fit nicely into the young adult sci-fi genre but also resonate with anyone who loves the geeky period of 60s sci-fi. The first book introduces us to Lora Robinson, with her pioneering family and trusty robot, a rebooted sunbed affectionately named ‘Toaster’. We gain an understanding of Frontier life on terraformed Mars, with handy references to how the atmosphere was altered to allow humans to live and breathe freely.

We read this book as a family, my two daughters enjoyed the humour Toaster brought to the story not to mention the fact that the Earth Authorities believed that an essential item for any travellers to Mars would have to be a sunbed. They also identified with Lora, who narrated the story and introduces us to this strange world where she is one of the third generation of settlers on a hostile planet. She has affection for her grandmother, an original space-faring traveller and through her, we gain snippets of information about the journey, the planet, the problems and her parents and younger brother.

Like all good quest sagas, Lora, finds out knowledge that could mean the destruction of their tiny community and embarks on a mission to get anyone who wishes to safety, far away from the evil Martian ghosts.

The place where she finally arrives opens her eyes to an almost unbelievable town full of humans who have been settled for many years. Lora’s quest is only just starting at the end of the first book and we are left with more questions than answers.

The second book, entitled ‘The Martian Girl’, takes us further into understanding the planet, the factions and the dilemmas that Lora faces.  I read this one alone and enjoyed the way the description was vivid, full of colour to enhance the imagination. Towns such as Our Town, Bandit Town and City Inside mean that the description is just enough to help any reader gain a full impression of the setting as a backdrop for the action. I enjoyed the use of the many Servo-furnishings; in this episode we are introduced to Barbra, a vocal and caring vending machine. The robots stick faithfully to Asimov’s three rules of robotics, meaning that on occasion, things may become a little predictable.  Having said that, my teenage daughters didn’t know Asimov and therefore the suspense was intact. We also meet another of the family: Aunty Ruby, who seems to be a natural matriarch and has her own agenda in the town.

The third and final book involved a plot which ties together the original travellers and their space ships along with the native Martians who now appear benevolent and a race enigmatically called ‘The Ancient Ones’.  There is a satirical message about the dangers of excessive screen time and also how dependent people seem to becoming on the use of tech. None of this is overly ‘preachy’ and it fits well into the story and Lora’s continuing quest to solve planet-sized problems.

The tale is rounded off with Lora managing to fulfil her quest and the dreams and wishes of several other characters are also fulfilled. I became quite fond of some of the non-human characters; Sook, Karl and the aforementioned Toaster.  This was a good trilogy to read with my daughters, we will finish the other two books when they are ready for more travels to Mars.

Charlotte and her husband and two daughters are an active family: the girls are readers, performers and part-time bakers.

You can find Paul online at Life on Magrs and he also has a Patreon for exclusive new content.