Space coming-of-age yarn, from the author of Double Full Moon Night (1999), etc. By the 25th century, the totalitarian FISC and the similar UDSC vie for control of the space colonies scattered throughout the solar system, although many independent pirate groups reject both FISC and UDSC and live by their own philosophies and modes of government. On the remote asteroid Cicero, exceptional student Hunter Blake wins an exclusive Covington Fellowship offering a fast-track route to a top government job. At the same time, Hunter reconnects with his stunning ex-girlfriend Tehani Wilawa. Tehani’s now working as a high-class whore to pay off the crippling debts left by her father—a situation Hunter is none too happy about. On the voyage to Mars, pirate Utopians capture the ship. Tehani, nearly sold to a vicious barbarian pirate from another band, is ransomed—she’s the mistress of a FISC bigwig. Qualified paramedic Hunter becomes Utopia’s doctor, and falls in love with sexy Ursula; he still doesn’t know how he feels about Tehani. Then, he jumps at the chance to return to Mars and resume his Fellowship, somewhat guiltily abandoning a now pregnant Ursula. Can Hunter fit in on Mars, and will he ever discover how he really feels about Tehani?
Lee sets up sucker punches, then pulls them all. There’s no war, tranquil or otherwise. And, despite frequent sexual encounters, the hero’s either numbingly placid or irritatingly obtuse. Pass.