The Martian Job (NewCon Press Novellas Set 3 Book 1) by Jaine Fenn (book review).

August 9, 2020 | By | Reply More

‘If you’re listening to this, I’m dead.’ That’s the dramatic message Lizzie Choi receives on a chip from her brother Shiv on Mars and the start to her exciting adventure.

Ms. Choi works as an administrator for Mister Lau at Everlight, a large Chinese corporation, and she’s good at her job. Her personal life is a mess because she’s getting divorced and currently living in a tiny flat with almost no possessions. She likes meaningless sex with fit young men, picked at random for one-night stands, which probably explains the divorce.

After the message from her brother, who’s a dodgy dealer on Mars, her mother calls from Luna Authority Correctional Facility Six to talk to her about it. Then she is suspended from her job with no pay because Everlight doesn’t like criminal family connections.

Her brother’s death made Lizzie her mother’s next of kin and that relationship, not acknowledged previously, has put up a red flag on her record. With no job, no husband and no prospects, there’s not much else to do but go to Mars and find out what happened to her brother. She ends up taking on the job that got him killed, stealing the biggest jewel in the Solar System from Everlight.

One of the more common futures SF writers use and perhaps the one most likely to come true given our present condition, is a world dominated by ruthless corporations. That’s the case here. Everlight is big on Earth but top dog on Mars, though not unchallenged. Some of the early settlers founded wealthy families and the Demos Collective is definitely a player.

Mars in this story is the one we know today, not the red world of planetary romances. Everlight’s biggest scheme is Project Rainfall, putting a water-rich proto-comet into orbit around Mars to give it much needed moisture for a hefty fee. Meanwhile, they’re celebrating the new year by putting the Eye of Heaven on public display. Lizzie’s job is to steal it.

All these traditional SF plot elements are stirred together into a good heist story which is perfectly enjoyable. For me, the novella was improved from good to excellent by the conclusion which, like all the best endings was logical but unexpected. Coincidentally, it touched on themes I was aware of this week due to re-reading ‘Science Fiction And A World In Crisis’, an interesting essay by Frank Herbert. It also ties in well with the current east versus west political situation where China is taking over from the USA as top nation.

I liked it as it went along and I loved it by the end. ‘The Martian Job’ could have appeared in ‘Astounding’ or ‘Galaxy’ or one of those other great Science Fiction magazines of the 1950s and it would have made the cover. It’s readable and entertaining with food for thought as well. Isn’t that what we want from Science Fiction?

Eamonn Murphy

August 2020

(pub: NewCon Press, 2017. 110 page e-book. Size: 1318kB. Price: £ 2.9 (UK), $ 3.99 (US). ASIN: B076G2YRT6)

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Category: Books, Scifi

About the Author ()

Eamonn Murphy is a science fiction, fantasy, horror and graphic novel reviewer who writes a bit too.

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