Ice Red, By Jael Wye. eARC for an epublication. Given to me for review for Geek Speak Magazine
Long ago, in a forest far far... No, wait... In the near future, on an outpost above Mars, the wickedly smart and sharply beautiful Victoria Ross plotted to wrest control of StarLine company from her new husband, Max, and to completely cut her stepdaughter out of any corporate control or assets. Unfortunately, just as she sent her husband off to Earth for a three-year engineering project and started into her end game, her lovely and intelligent stepdaughter decided to step up in her involvement of the company.
Bianca Ross was an engineer with business smarts, but grew up too self-conscious of her social status to form close personal interactions with anyone. While she was not vulnerable to emotional blackmail through close contacts, she also did not have anyone in which to confide. So she arrived back up at the Eris space station full of ideas but also empty of emotional support. She agreed to Victoria's tasking of assisting with the acquisition of the RedIce mining company to prove her business acumen and investigate the strange rumblings she suspected around Victoria and the representative of RedIce, Cesare Chan.
Cesare Chan and his "well-earned cowboy reputation" arrived at Eris with two problems. He didn't want to sell RedIce, and he didn't want anyone to know what else he was doing down on Mars. However, he failed to anticipate the romantic plot that Wye built to throw Bianca into his path, repeatedly, until both of them admitted attraction to each other. At which point, the Snow White plot began to unfold.
Wye is a newcomer to Carina press, and published her first story here as an ambitious project: retell Snow White in science fiction. She built her world on Heinlein's Mars, borrowed Kim Robinson's space elevator, tossed in a dash of L. Neil Smith freedom rhetoric, and then threw in some sex scenes to spice it all up. All in all, she did a decent job. The technology is lightly laid down, making it hard to understand and easy to believe. The characters are classic tropes, from the beautiful "space babe" to the golden-hearted bad boy who made good. Those characters are classic for a reason, and we know them from our Snow White tales of old. Unfortunately, the story's failings are all in the tropes too. There was no need to suddenly have a ghost in the machine, nor did Wye need to throw drugs into the sex. And actually, the sex wasn't all that great, either. As a science fiction fan, I found the sex scenes were getting in the way of my plot, and made me impatient to get through to move on with the plot action.
Generally, this was a good story that moved quickly across plenty of territory. Most of the characters were smart and active in the scenes, and the dialog felt appropriate for the characters. Wye wrapped up the story quite conclusively, so I expect that this story will stay as a stand-alone. That said, I am looking forward to reading her next fairy tale remake, especially if she puts it in another science fiction setting. If it weren't for the sex scenes, I'd recommend this story to some YA folks I know. As it is, I'll have to point this at adults who read Burroughs and Heinlein in their earlier days.Books for 2013