Tango Charlie and Foxtrot Romeo by John Varley

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Themes and Characters

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Corporal Anna-Louise Bach is the point-of-view character for most of Tango Charlie and Foxtrot Romeo. She is too acid tongued for her own good and has been placed in a dead-end job because she has throughout her career failed to show respect to incompetent superiors. She supervises the crew that mans the New Dresden Police Department's monitoring room. When the presence of a living person on the space station Tango Charlie is suspected, this crew activates the station's few functioning cameras and observes the girl.

Bach is a sad, lonely figure. She is attracted to empty-headed but muscular men and moves from one love affair to another, without ever feeling fulfilled. The lonely isolation of the little girl tugs at her heart, and she ends up making decisions based on morality and emotions rather than public opinion. The little girl calls herself Charlie.

Why she has remained a child for more than thirty years is a mystery, although the disease Neuron-X might have something to do with it. She is Tango Charlie's only human survivor. She is kept company by the descendants of Shetland Sheepdogs that survived the Neuron-X plague, as well as by Tik-Tok, the space station's computer. Her time is spent maintaining the space station and raising Shetland Sheepdogs to exacting dog-show competition standards. Tik-Tok makes sure that she follows a busy daily schedule of chores, sees to it that she eats nutritious meals, and bathes and grooms herself. She is lonely but does not know it. When first seen on camera, she is a startling picture: She has makeup smeared on her face like war paint, and wherever she goes she seems surrounded by a sea of flowing dogs. Her courage in the face of isolation and...

(The entire section is 570 words.)