Thursday 20 July 2017

Blog Tour Excerpt & Giveaway - Arabella and the Battle of Venus by David D. Levine

Arabella and the Battle of Venus
David D. Levine

Book Description:
The thrilling adventures of Arabella Ashby continue in the second book in Hugo-winning author David D. Levine's swashbuckling sci-fi, alt-history series!

The swashbuckling Arabella Ashby is back for brand new adventure in the ongoing story of her life among the stars.

Arabella’s wedding plans to marry Captain Singh of the Honorable Mars Trading Company are interrupted when her fiancé is captured by the French and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp on swampy Venus. Now, Arabella must find passage to an enemy-controlled planet in the middle of a war, bribe or fight her way past vicious guards, and rescue her Captain.

To do this she must enlist the help of the dashing privateer, Daniel Fox of the Touchstone and build her own clockwork navigational automaton in order to get to Venus before the dread French general, Joseph Fouché, the Executioner of Lyon.

Once on Venus, Arabella, Singh, and Fox soon discover that Napoleon has designed a secret weapon, one that could subjugate the entire galaxy if they can’t discover a way to stop Fouché, and the entire French army, from completing their emperor’s mandate.

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“Arabella, a human teenager born on Mars, is catapulted into adventure in a tale that cleverly combines some of the most intriguing elements of steampunk and classic science fiction. In an alternate 1812, Arabella’s mother moves her three daughters to Earth and away from the wild influences of the Martian colony. When the family gets news that Arabella’s father has died on Mars, the headstrong 17-year-old girl disguises herself as a boy and hires on with one of the great ships that sail the solar winds between the planets, planning to protect her brother, who’s still on Mars, from treachery. Along the way, she faces privateers and mutiny, but Arabella is resourceful and courageous, gamely enduring hardship to accomplish her mission. Arabella is a fully realized character, daring and willing to risk everything to protect the brother she loves and the legacy that her father has left them. Her wits and cleverness save the ship and crew more than once in this rousing swashbuckler.”— Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Debut of the Month. Embedded in the chaos of clockwork and space adventure, Arabella is a delightful heroine with more than enough fortitude to traverse the solar system. … A fanciful romp through a cosmic 1812, Hugo Award–winning Levine’s first novel is a treat for steampunk fantasy fans.”— Library Journal, starred review

“Excellent, entertaining, humorous scenarios make up Levine’s latest. His storytelling will keep readers turning the pages with its slight edginess, light-hearted tone and clear, crisp dialogue. Arabella is strong, sassy and clever, and her journey, as she makes her way back to Mars on an airship, makes this story an engaging read. ★★★★”— Melanie Bates, RT Book Reviews

“David Levine has reached back past the Martian romances of Percival Lowell to an even earlier moment, creating a precursor to steampunk that I suppose we should call sailpunk. It’s a delightful addition to the Matter of Mars, bridging the long gap between Kepler and Burroughs with a Regency entry, filled with all the drama of the Napoleonic wars, now here complicated by a drastic Martian intervention, and animated most of all by Arabella, a young woman filled with curiosity and courage. It’s a very clever and entertaining start to a memorable saga.”— Kim Stanley Robinson, author of Red Mars

“Regency space opera in its best form! An intrepid, intelligent heroine, wonderful characters, and a breathtaking conflict. Who could ask for more?”— Patricia Rice, bestselling author of Regency romances

“If Edgar Rice Burroughs, Jules Verne, and Patrick O’Brian had sat down together to compose a tale to amuse Jane Austen, the result might be Arabella. So. Much. Fun!”— Madeleine Robins, author of the Sarah Tolerance series

“Hugo award winning author David D. Levine’s first full length novel, Arabella of Mars, is the delicious love child of Jane Austen, Patrick O’Brian, and Jules Verne! Sent back to England from her family’s estate on Mars, Arabella despises the life of a staid young Regency lady. Then a shocking threat to her family on Mars forces her to undertake a desperate, impossible journey back to the colony–a journey that will change her forever. Arabella Ashby is a great character, and wonderful worldbuilding, tight plotting, and a breakneck pace make Arabella of Mars a real page turner! I look forward to the next book in the series.”— Mary Jo Putney, bestselling author of Not Always a Saint and Once a Soldier

“Levine has created a wonderful alternate 19th century, with interplanetary airships, space pirates, automatons, Martians, and a young woman determined to save her family. This book reminded me how much fun reading can be. This book makes me want to take an airship to Mars. Right now. Arabella of Mars is a perfect blend of pulp and steampunk and old-fashioned adventure, set in a fascinating alternate version of our solar system.”— Jim C. Hines, author of the Magic ex Libris series

“David Levine takes the ‘girl disguises herself for nautical adventures’ story into new dimensions with this delightful interplanetary romance. Murderous relatives, alien culture clashes, a dashing romance, and high seas adventure in the void between Earth and Mars — it’s all the good parts of the old pulp style, updated for the twenty-first century.”— Marie Brennan, author of the Memoirs of Lady Trent series

“David Levine’s entertaining debut is a delightfully detailed airship adventure, complete with romance, pirates, Martians, automata, and a charming Jules Vernian imagining of the alternate-world science involved in sailing a ship straight through our solar system.”— Tina Connolly, author of the Ironskin trilogy

“Interplanetary pirates! Imperiled inheritances! Disguises! Rebellion! Romance! Arabella of Mars is a blast — a smart, resourceful heroine, a non-stop adventure packed with thrills, charm and surprises, and a fascinating world I hope to see a lot more of. A thoroughly engaging debut.”— Kurt Busiek, writer of Astro City

“Fans of tall ships, steampunk SF, and swashbuckling adventure should love Arabella’s splendid race back to the Mars Colony in alternate 1813! This is a terrific novel!”— Sherwood Smith, writer of fantasy, historical romance, and science fiction

“Arabella of Mars is a perfect blend of Regency romance and imaginative, exciting space opera. Levine offers a story grounded in historical detail that soars to new heights of adventure and fun.”— Michael J. Martinez, author of The Daedalus Incident

“This rollicking interplanetary adventure captured my heart. Who could resist a world in which coal-powered ships sail to Mars, borne aloft by balloons of Venusian silk, doing battle en route with French privateers? To protect family and fortune, Arabella Ashby masquerades as a boy and takes a berth as a cabin boy on a fascinating voyage. There’s a mysterious captain, an intriguing automaton, pirates, Martians, a bit of romance, and so much more. I’m grateful Levine has promised a sequel. Arabella Ashby proves herself to be a clever and capable heroine, and I’m looking forward to her next adventure.”— Pat Murphy, author of Wild Angel

“Shades of Jules Verne! This rollicking adventure from David Levine thrills with Regency whizzbang!”— Ellen Klages, author of The Green Glass Sea


Burke’s Club, an establishment of which she had never before even heard, lay in Gokhura Street not far from the docks. It proved to be a private dwelling of middling character, lacking any sign and indistinguishable from its neighbors save that the hall door stood ajar. “This is the place,” Gowse said, glancing up and down the street. “But it’s no place for a lady, miss. Perhaps I should go in and—”

“I must speak with this Fox myself,” Arabella interrupted, pushing past him and striding through the half- open door.

The hall, once her eyes adjusted to the dimness within, proved to be interrupted in the middle by a second door, in which was constructed a small spy- hole. A single watery eye immediately came to the hole, blinking out at her in leery astonishment. “Is this Burke’s Club?” she demanded of it.

“It is, miss.”

“Pray let me in. I understand that Mr. Daniel Fox is in residence, and I desire to speak with him immediately.”

Again the eye blinked, then retreated. Muttering came from within, and she heard the name Fox repeated several times. Gowse came up beside her, and they waited together in silence.
After some minutes the door creaked open, revealing an older man in a cheap yet fashion able coat. “Mr. Fox is here, miss, though he cannot come to the door.”

“Then I must go to him.”

The older man glanced to Gowse— who merely shrugged— then gave Arabella a slight bow and admitted them within. “Welcome to Burke’s, miss. You’ll find Mr. Fox in the hall upstairs.”
At the top of the stairs they were met by yet another door, this one heavy and iron- bound, which swung open as they approached. Beyond it lay a single large room, well illuminated by substantial chandeliers, the daylight being completely excluded by heavy curtains. Several large oblong tables filled the space, each covered with green baize and surrounded by a boisterous crowd of men. Some were in shirt- sleeves; others wore coats in the latest colors and trimmed in gleaming Venusian silk. Martian and human waiters carried trays of food and drink, and the atmosphere was pungent with the smells of roast meat, strong wine, and snuff.

“Which one is Mr. Fox?” Arabella inquired of the doorman. He gave her a peculiar little smile. “At the hazard table, miss,” he replied, gesturing. “In the blue jacket.”

The indicated gentleman was, at that moment, standing at the head of the table and shaking his cupped hands vigorously above his left shoulder. He was, in Arabella’s opinion, quite attractive, with a strong chin and aquiline nose. His sandy brown hair was cut in a fashion able Brutus style, but his strong and sinewy hands showed that he was not the type of captain who forbore hauling on a line himself. And though he was not yet forty, the blue eyes in his wind- burnt face bore wrinkles in their corners from frequent smiling.

With a whoop, Fox brought his hands down, casting a pair of dice down the length of the table. The men around the table drew in a collective breath as the dice rolled to a stop, then erupted in a shout of mingled triumph and despair— depending, she supposed, upon how each man had wagered. Fox himself regarded the dice silently, with an expression that attempted to cover disappointment with a self- consciously cheerful determination.

For a moment she considered this man, this privateer captain. Could she truly bear to take passage from one who was little more than a legalized pirate, sailing rapaciously beneath the flag of a Martian satrap? Not too many months ago another privateer, albeit a Frenchman, had nearly killed her captain and herself. Yet Fox was her best hope— indeed, at the moment, her only hope— to rescue Captain Singh from Venus, and perhaps she could learn to respect his skills if not his occupation. She straightened her back and stepped forward.

As Arabella approached the table, the player to Fox’s left, a lean gentleman with very prominent ears who wore a dark leather thukhong- jacket, took up the dice. Fox sat and gestured to a passing waiter, who filled his goblet to the brim with wine. The pile of coins in front of Fox, she noted, was considerably smaller than that of any of his neighbors.

“Mister Fox,” Arabella said. “My name is Arabella Ashby. May I have a word with you?” To introduce oneself was an impropriety, she knew, yet for a young unmarried woman who had already invaded a gambling- hell without proper companionship it was a comparatively venial sin.

Fox looked up at her with bleary suspicion. His eyes were quite blood- shot and underlined with substantial dark circles, but as they swam into focus on her his expression changed to one of somewhat inebriated delight.

“Of course, my dear Miss Ashby. Always a pleasure. Where do I recall having heard the name before?”

“I approached you by means of my manservant Gowse, who I believe is a friend of yours.”

He blinked. “Oh yes, the adventuresome heiress!” He looked over her shoulder at Gowse, who was just catching up to Arabella in her headlong advance. “You did not tell me she was such a beauty.”

Fox’s slightly slurred but apparently sincere compliment flattered, vexed, and embarrassed Arabella in equal measure. “Sir,” she replied, firming her jaw, “I require passage to Venus, as soon and as speedily as possible, for which I am prepared to compensate you handsomely. Are you able to provide it, or must I look elsewhere?” The fact that she had nowhere else to look, she thought, was immaterial; the projection of confidence was all. This was one of the lessons she had learned from her Captain Singh.

Fox inclined his head and gestured to the tiny heap of coins before him. “I am not, alas, currently in a position to provide any such thing. I must confess that at the moment I am very slightly in arrears to the bank—”

At this point a lean, sharp- eyed, and decidedly sober gentleman in a dark frock coat, who had moved up very quietly as Arabella and Fox had been conversing, spoke up. “To the tune of three hundred twenty-nine pounds ten shillings, including interest.”

“Yes . . .” Fox acknowledged, casting the dark- coated fellow a rather irritated glance. “I have been here for three days and two nights,” he declared, returning his attention to Arabella and Gowse, “and I have no intention of departing until I have restored and indeed redoubled my initial stake.”

The sharp- eyed gentleman’s countenance, though guarded, could not help but reveal to Arabella’s eye his low estimate of Fox’s chances of success in this endeavor . . .  and the plea sure he felt at the prospect.

Three hundred twenty- nine pounds ten shillings, Arabella thought, was an appalling amount of money to squander at hazard. But it was not terribly much more than the three hundred pounds Michael had allowed her for passage, over and above the five hundred pounds allocated for expenses. “If I were to settle this debt for you, would you convey me to Venus in exchange? Immediately?”
“Miss!” gasped Gowse, appalled at her effrontery. The sharp- eyed gentleman looked daggers at her, no doubt furious at the prospect of being deprived of Fox’s forthcoming additional losses.

But Fox, though well supplied with wine and overconfidence, was apparently not completely lacking in wits. He regarded Arabella for a moment with hooded eyes, lips pursed, then nodded slowly. “Could we say, perhaps, three hundred fifty?”

Arabella’s eyes met Fox’s. Part of her wanted to appease this man— this handsome, flattering captain who was her only known means of transport to Venus— but the shrewder, more cunning part sensed that he was a wild huresh who required a firm hand on the reins. “Three hundred twenty-nine,” she stated succinctly, “and ten shillings.”

Fox seemed about to balk. But then the player to his left nudged Fox’s elbow. “I’ve seen how you play,” he said. His accent suggested Mars’s northern colonies. “I suggest you take the young lady up on her offer.”

At that Fox bristled. The other player pointedly glanced down at Fox’s very diminished stake, then back to Fox, and shrugged.

Fox’s eyes, too, drifted down to the small pile of coins on the table before him. He contemplated it for a bit, then shook his head and looked up, smiling and raising his wine cup to Arabella. “Very well, Miss Ashby. We have a deal.”

About the Author
David D. Levine is the multi-award-winning author of the Regency interplanetary airship adventure novel Arabella of Mars (Tor 2016), sequel Arabella and the Battle of Venus (Tor 2017), and more than fifty science fiction and fantasy stories. Arabella of Mars won the 2017 Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy, his story “Tk’Tk’Tk” won the 2006 Hugo Award for Best Short Story, his story “Nucleon” won the James White Award, and he has been shortlisted for awards including the Hugo, Nebula, Campbell, Sturgeon, and Locus. His stories have appeared in Asimov’s, Analog, F&SF, Realms of Fantasy,, numerous anthologies and websites, and multiple Year’s Best anthologies, as well as his collection Space Magic from Wheatland Press, which won the Endeavour Award for the best SF or Fantasy book by a Pacific Northwest writer.

David is a contributor to George R. R. Martin’s bestselling shared-world series Wild Cards. He is also a member of Book View Cafe, a writer-owned publishing cooperative, and Oregon Science Fiction Conventions Inc., a non-profit organization which produces OryCon and other SF conventions. He has narrated podcasts for Escape Pod, PodCastle, and StarShipSofa and the audiobook of Space Magic, and his video production “Dr. Talon’s Letter to the Editor” was a finalist for the Parsec Award. In 2010 he spent two weeks at the Mars Desert Research Station, a simulated Mars base in the Utah desert.

David lives in a hundred-year-old bungalow in Portland, Oregon. His web site can be found at

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