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Chaz Brenchley: Mars Imperial

Dust Up at the Crater School

Available now, Dust Up at the Crater School, the second in the 'Crater School' series, and a sequel to Three Twins at the Crater School, Chaz Brenchley's ongoing series of "English girls' boarding-school stories. On Mars."

Puzzled? Chaz explains.

Christmas is coming to the Crater School, so the girls must celebrate. So says the Earth calendar. But Mars does not respect school rules. Nor does the Red Planet have much respect for Earth weather. Why bother with a white Christmas when Martian weather can be far more dangerous?

Then again, perhaps this is for the best. The people most likely to arrive at the Crater School with snow on their boots are Russian spies.

Praise for the Crater School Books

"Only in the laboratory of Chaz Brenchley could the British school story be lovingly sutured together with the Old Mars of the pulps, animated with the crackling static of a planetary dust storm, and sent lumbering down to the village. No - skipping down to the village, with a beret, and a paper bag full of bulls'-eyes, and a wholesome desire to excel at lacrosse."

Francis Spufford

Cheryl Morgan, publisher of Wizard's Tower Press, has acquired World English and ebook rights to three Crater School novels, a story collection and a school cookbook She says "I have been a fan of Chaz's work for a very long time. I am absolutely delighted to welcome him to Wizard's Tower, and be able to bring the Crater School books to the wider audience that they deserve." Read more praise for Three Twins at the Crater School - or visit the Wizard's Tower website for details and purchasing information.

The Crater School

"English girls' boarding-school stories. On Mars."

That was the original elevator pitch for Chaz'z Patreon: a very focused project, to let him write something from the heart that was not likely to prove commercially viable. His lifelong love for the Chalet School books of Elinor M Brent-Dyer is an open secret: one morning that coupled in his head with the Old Mars that he was already writing stories about, and he simply couldn't resist. "If Mars were a province of the British Empire," he argues, "of course it would need boarding-schools for girls (it was already canonical in the stories that boys were sent back to England for their education, but girls were not). Hence the Crater School, on the rim of a crater lake, taking girls from all over the colony, from the great cities of Marsport and New Victoria and Cassini to the pioneer farms on the frontier. With all the concomitant mischief-making, fire and flood, alarms and excursions, encounters with aliens and more. Sickly parents in the sanatorium across the lake. Old girls marrying doctors. Picnics and midnight feasts, secret tunnels and great revelations. Oh, and Russian spies for good measure."

"Doing monthly chapters," says Chaz, "is a weird way to write a book, and I'm still not comfortable about it; but on the other hand, it's brought me safe to the end of two Crater School books so far, so something works." Those two books are Three Twins at the Crater School and its sequel Dust-Up at the Crater School, published chapter by chapter to Chaz'z subscribers on Patron. But the latest phase of the experiment is something new: the first chapter of an adult novel, in which Rowany de Vere investigates murky goings-on in Marsport.

This comes prefaced by a content warnings: this is not your standard schoolgirl-adjacent Rowany kind of story. Marsport is a grimdark kind of place, and Rowany is being thrust head-under into it. Unpleasantness ensues. If you don't like dark crime thrillers, you probably won't like this.

If you do, though, head over to Chaz'z Patreon to read more about what is on offer, including the first chapter of that Martian noir adventure, free to read.

All about the Crater School  |  Three Twins at the Crater School  |  Dust Up at the Crater School
Start here: Three Twins at the Crater School: Chapter 1  |  Chapter 2

For a culinary sidelight on Imperial Mars, visit 'Mrs Bailey's Martian Kitchen', recipes from the Crater Schoolo's redoubtable cook (downsized when necessary for the family table, rather than two hundred famished adolescents) which Chaz has been posting at Medium.

And look out for a sidelight on what Crater School girls do when they grow up: Ian Whates, publisher of NewCon Press, will publish the novella Rowany de Vere and a Fair Degree of Frost.

Rowany de Vere: late of the Crater School, where she was a legendary Head Girl; recently graduated both from Oxford and from several unpublicised and unexpected schools across two worlds; home on Mars, working for an unnamed department of the Colonial Service. Some people call her a spy, or a spy-hunter, though she prefers "political agent". None of those labels is sufficient to contain her, for she is sui generis.

This is the tale of her first independent mission, where she is tasked to extract a Russian defector from a disreputable hotel in Marsport. He is almost certainly under surveillance by the Okhrana, the Tsar's infamous secret service; nevertheless, Rowany is tolerably confident that she can manage this. As, clearly, are her masters; why else would they have sent her in alone...?

Elsewhere on Mars Imperial

For a different aspect of Chaz Brenchley's Mars Imperial, visit Cassini Crater in a short story, The Station of the Twelfth, on

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