A hotshot spaceship captain and a corporate space-prince find common enemies and aligning goals.
So far in the future that even after the Great Collapse of technology humanity still travels the stars, Qole’s the youngest and best captain at the cold, nearly barren outpost planet where the big industry is Shadow fishing—a dangerous technique of harvesting the powerful energy known as Shadow. But the long-term buildup of Shadow passed down through families and from exposure causes Shadow poisoning, which causes some to experience greatness before the inevitable madness and death. Nev, prince and heir to the planet controlling their system, disguises himself to join Qole’s crew to get close to her; he thinks she’s the key to unlocking safe use of Shadow, which would further enrich his family, as well as curing Shadow poisoning. But first he has to convince her as well as to avoid a rival family that seeks to overtake his own by hijacking their research through violence. As the plot twists through action scenes, Nev and Qole develop romantic feelings despite their differences. In contrast to pale-skinned Nev, Qole (and half her crew) is a member of a dark-skinned minority, and complicated racial dynamics are discussed from their viewpoint, intermingled with conversations about economic privilege. A side character is genderqueer without fuss and enjoys a romantic storyline. The ending leaves room for future stories.
Readers will want to join Qole’s crew. (Science fiction. 12 & up)