A space Western stars a frustrated would-be girl engineer taken by native raiders.
Rae Darling, 13, and her blonde, blue-eyed kid sister, Temple, live on a moon too small to have a name, where a spaceship packed with colonists crashed 30 years ago. All existence is hardscrabble on the punishingly hot, arid rock, and it's worse for girls. Among the religious prairie homesteaders, there's no room for a girl gadget-maker who's prone to creating a ruckus. Rae's troubles are put into perspective when she and Temple are captured in a raid by the Cheese, the scaled indigenous humanoids, whose warriors are "painted and shining, ready for raiding." The longer Rae is a captive, the more she grows to love these heathens for "their strength, their brutality, their fierce devotion." Rae (now She Who Cry the Most) is trained by One Who Talk Too Many Word and Strength of the Suns to become a warrior; soon she's donning war paint and wearing her long, dreadlocked hair in a raider's horsetail just like her black-eyed, bronze-scaled captors. Can impulsive, angry Rae have a life among people who "take pride in their viciousness" and slice the ears off attacked settlers? An ostensible moral about the evils of colonialism merely romanticizes the brutality of the superstitious local primitives.
Satisfying if tropetastic coming-of-age, utterly spoiled by the appalling “noble savage” narrative. (Science fiction. 11-14)