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The Martian Child: A Novel About A Single Father Adopting A Son Hardcover – June 1, 2002

4.5 out of 5 stars 81 customer reviews

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Hardcover, June 1, 2002
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Editorial Reviews

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.

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

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Forge Books; 1st edition (June 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765303116
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765303110
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.8 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #718,205 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

David Gerrold is a figment of his own imagination.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
David Gerrold was caught off guard when trying to adopt his son when the caseworker said that the boy thought he was a Martian. I was a bit put off by the cover, which seemed to be poking fun at "the Martian child".
But the story itself is excellent. A child's "I am a Martian" comment CAN be handled without ridicule, and in a way which makes the truth of that statement irrelevant to the relationship.
The important part of this book IS the relationship, and the process of becoming a father. In fact it shows what it MEANS to be a father much better than any book I have read. This is not "Father knows best", where the father is perfect and knows all the answers. It isn't a cute story for children, though I would recommend it for adopted children AND their parents. Instead it is a process of discovery from the father's perspective, where he learns and grows as he goes on. It about the FATHER's insecurities, worries and joys -- something that is rarely discussed or explained.
I strongly recommend this for anyone considering adoption, for any parents with "problem" children (ALL perents, in other words<g>) and for the children themselves, so that they can gain a rare look into what it means to be a parent.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
David is a single man who wants to adopt a boy and start a family of his own. As soon as he sees a photo of Dennis, he knows that Dennis is the one. But Dennis is a hyperactive child with emotional problems resulting from his being abused by former guardians. And he believes that he's a Martian. Can David deal with this troubled boy and love him unconditionally?

I read The Martian Child last night in just a couple hours. While it's a short read, I teared-up several times. Dennis is a truly amazing child, and David is a wonderful father. This is a beautiful and humorous heartwarming story about a man who is willing to put the son that he loves above everything else in his life. We not only get to see the change in Dennis as he slowly adjusts to stability and a father who loves him, but also a change in David as well.
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Format: Hardcover
I happened upon this in the local bookstore today, and read it in one sitting. Quite effective novel that appears to be very closely tied to the author's own experience as a single father in adopting an 8 year old boy. Mr. Gerrold doesn't sugarcoat the experience, as chroniclers of adoption often do. He makes very clear the doubts and indecision that can bedevil anyone taking this step. But he also doubly underlines the rewards.
He has found a unique way to give a structure to the story, by wrapping it in the concept of a child who thinks he's an alien. But for the first half, this book seems pretty much a typical journal of the the adoptive experience, when it makes a 180 degree turn. Not right or left either, but up. I was really worried at first at what the heck Gerrold was up to, but by the ending, it all makes more than sense--or logic.
This book has has helped me realize that I really do want to make this the next step in my life.
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Format: Paperback
The Martian Child (2002) is a singleton story about a man adopting a boy. The novelette on which this novel is based won the Hugo and Nebula in 1995 and it has the feel and flavor of SF. It is by one of our well known authors, so it has been claimed by the SF community. Yet it is not really science fiction.

In this story, David decides to adopt a child. Being a writer (and an SF one to boot), he researches the subject of adoption extensively. After finally being approved by the authorities, he faces the decision as to whom to adopt.

As he browses through the adoption catalogs, he notices that most available children have moderate to severe problems. He resolves to only adopt one with minimal problems, since he is not sure that he can handle the stress of raising a child with very demanding needs. Then he sees the picture of Dennis at the very back of a listing and instantly relates to the boy. This is the one!

After meeting the boy in his group home surroundings and then visiting with him twice a week for a while, David is finally ready to keep the boy overnight. However, the boy's caseworker then calls and requires a go/nogo decision on that very day, for the group home is closing and all the children must be reassigned. While feeling uncertain about his parenting skills, David discovers that he can't let the boy go back to the foster/group home environment. He has already made his commitment and has already adopted Dennis in his own mind. When Dennis declares that he would like to be adopted by David, the match is made.

Dennis goes through the whole gamut of behaviors listed in the adoption manuals.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
After seeing the movie version of "The Martian Child" I just had to read the book. It did not disappoint although there are some differences between the book and the movie. In the book, the father is a gay man and in the movie he is a widower who vows to follow through on the plan he had with his wife to adopt a child. These are only surface differences because the whole point of both the book and the movie is the relationship between a single dad and his "hard-to-place" adopted son. The young boy, Dennis, is riddled with insecurities which manifest themselves in everything from wild tantrums to his insistence that he is from Mars. The father is unbelievably patient as he alternately enters his son's fantasy world and then coaxes him out of it. This is a touching story of two human beings who learn to trust each other and to be better together.
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