Jane Navio is the resource manager of Phoecea, an asteroid colony poised on the knife-edge of hard vacuum and unforgiving space. A mishap has dumped megatons of water and methane out the colony’s air lock, putting the entire human population at risk.
Jane discovers that the crisis may have been engineered by the Martian crime syndicate, as a means of executing a coup that will turn Phocaea into a client-state. And if that wasn't bad enough, an AI that spawned during the emergency has gone rogue…and there’s a giant x-factor in the form of the transhumanist Viridian cult that lives in Phocaea's bowels.
Jane’s in the prime of her career—she’s only a bit over a century old—but the conflict between politics and life-support is tearing her apart. To save her colony and her career, she’s going to have to solve several mysteries at once—a challenge that will put her up against all the difficulties, contradictions, and awkward compromises entailed in the human colonization of outer space.
“Compulsively readable and packed with challenging ideas…smart, satisfying hard SF adventure.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Fans of hard SF will eat this up and shout for more.” —George R. R. Martin
“Manages to be both original, full of smart new ways of looking at science fiction ideas—and old-fashioned, full of the kind of whiz-bang action-adventure that made so many of us fall in love with the field in the first place.” —Cory Doctorow
“Thrills, action, real characters you come to care about, and a true sense of what it would be like to live in a space colony—Locke has given us all of these.” —Booklist
“Smart, fast, and with engineering to die for…Locke’s extravagantly detailed future never loses sight of the human cost of the choices people make and the brutal political games they play. There are no easy outcomes, but there are heroes.” —Kate Elliott, author of Spirit Gate
“Gripping, well-rounded hard sci-fi, satisfyingly concluded… Locke's precariously wild frontier is inventive and intensely realized; her characters do dirty-hands jobs and aren't afraid of making difficult decisions.” —Kirkus Reviews
"An action-packed coming-of-age story set on a grittily realistic asteroid mining station. Locke delivers state-of-the-art SF." —Chris Moriarty, author of Spin Control
“Locke has created a nuanced, interesting world and a spectacular heroine. The characters are well-developed; especially noteworthy are the very realistically drawn teenagers. The engrossing plot and expertly woven narrative will keep readers engaged until the final page.”
—RT Book Reviews (“Top Pick”)
“Starts with a bang and only gets more intense in the pages that follow. M. J. Locke fills this novel with the exciting, mind-bending combination of action and wild ideas that makes for the best SF."
—Jane Lindskold, author of Through Wolf’s Eyes
"Crisp prose and actual, believable characters—M. J. Locke is a strong new voice in hard science fiction." —Katherine Kerr, author of Daggerspell
“A fast-paced, gripping story, with strong, memorable characters fighting for the survival of their city and facing hard choices.” —Martha Wells, author of The Element of Fire
“This is a world where four coming-of-age teenagers—in love, in lust, or just trying to get along—come face-to face with death, political intrigue, weird science, and characters pushing the biologic and social norms to the limits. This is 21st century YA SF writ large, and I can only hope for more like it.” —Steve Miller, co-author of Fledgling, Saltation, and Ghost Ship