A young man on a Mars colony evades corrupt agents of Earth and learns the truth of his origins in the author’s debut sci-fi/action novel.
Thom is like any other teen—he excels at sports and is contemplating his future. He’s also living on Mars. But after his grandfather dies, everything changes. Thom, a possible suspect, is questioned by authorities. Things only get worse. Two men try to kidnap him and kill his friends, and Thom learns that a bounty hunter, Myron, has been enlisted to track him down. All of his woes can be traced to a war with Martian natives known as the Velitrans, and Thom finds unlikely allies in fighting the Eua, the unquestionably shady government of Earth. Marsh’s plot speeds along with plenty of action scenes, which include one when Elaine—the sister of one of Thom’s friends—escapes captivity and helps Rosha, who leads Thom, et al., to the Velitrans. But it’s the environment and characters that make the book a standout. Mars is a well-established home. It has its own sport, called "endurance," which is essentially a race between teams armed with electrically charged sticks; its own vehicles, such as a “floater”; and its own profanity—the term “fugging” and its variants are a popular word choice. Characters are likable all around, even the villains—the world-weary Detective Cooper-Fonda is so desperate for control he gives himself the call sign of “Boss.” Desmond, “Desi” to his friends, is perhaps the book’s best character. He supplies much of the humor, incessantly complaining that people don’t bother to learn his name, but he’s also a skilled programmer, rewriting a com’s operating system in mere minutes, and has ties to the main plot—Myron grabs Desi first before looking for Thom. The work includes enjoyable add-ons like a bad guy identified by a discernible wound (a defensive bite from Elaine), as well as a bulky second-to-last chapter, with multiple characters converging for a searing action set piece.
A considerable novel populated by a cast of memorable characters, who enhance the Mars backdrop instead of depending on it.