Tango Charlie and Foxtrot Romeo by John Varley

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Summary

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Tango Charlie and Foxtrot Romeo is a moving story of the struggle to save a stranded child. It deals with profound questions of right and wrong. The mere fact that a child is in danger moves some characters to want to save her. When the child turns out actually to be over thirty years old, the decision about whether to save her becomes more complicated, as if a grownup's life were less valuable than that of a child. Still, the girl looks seven years old, and in many ways she is still mentally a small child. Her confusion about what is happening to her endears her to Corporal Anna-Louise Bach and Megan Galloway, who decide that regardless of her real age, the child deserves a chance to live. This theme of mortality is emphasized by the first reaction of the observers to the news that the little girl they see is actually thirty-seven years old: Could she hold the secret of immortality or freedom from death? Then the harsh facts of the girl's situation dash the observers' hopes, replacing them with the problem of whether the girl can be saved. The theme of mortality is enriched by the question of whether anyone would be eager to save the child if she were a mature thirty-seven-year-old woman. Varley offers no firm answers here. The question he poses remains unresolved and troubling.