Welcome to Asteria, a corporate-owned, deep-space colony populated with refugees, criminals and obsessive online gamers. Genny O'Riordan has shifted in from Earth determined to find a story that will break her blog into the Stellarnet Top 100, and even better--expose the degradation of the colony's denizens.
Duin is an alien--a Glin--a hero of a past revolution against the Glin royal family, yet branded a terrorist. Duin speaks every day in the Asteria market, hoping to spur humans to aid his home world, which has been overtaken by the evil, buglike Tikati.
When Genny and Duin meet, what begins with a blog post becomes a dangerous web of passion and politics as they struggle to survive not only a war but the darker side of humanity...
Ms. Hilton made a huge effort with the worldbuilding in Stellarnet Rebel, and her characters play off it beautifully. The Glin, a semi-aquatic alien refugee race whose plight is given the Stellarnet spotlight by blogger Genny O'Riordan, are a fascinating bunch. Two males in particular, Duin and Belloc, who feature prominently in the story, couldn't be more different from one another if they tried, yet both point to a common underlying strength in this seemingly beaten species. They have unfinished business with their overlord enemies, and perhaps each other. All they need is a helping hand, and someone willing to bring the best out in them.
Genny's a fun, very liberal heroine who lives life by her own heart and her own moral compass. She sees helping the Glin as the right thing to do, and that's that. Her blog becomes a sensation, so presumably most people agree. But there's also a hint of a perverse public obsession with Genny and her alien partners, particularly in regard to the obvious interspecies attraction between them. It's the kind of thing that *would* send our internet of the future into a feeding frenzy.
I liked the romantic touches. They were sweet and tasteful and added a lot to the characters. They never dominated the plot either, which is refreshing to see in a romantic SF story. The action scenes were brisk and imaginative. Much of the humour was of the fish-out-of-water variety--always good--and perhaps the only quibble I had with the Glin language was that many of the words came across as a little juvenile, a la Phantom Menace.
I'd definitely recommend Stellarnet Rebel to SF and romantic SF readers, especially those who like clever worldbuilding, cyber tech, and intriguing human-alien relationships. It's an excellent debut novel.
Robert Appleton is an award-winning author of science fiction, steampunk, and historical fiction. Based in Lancashire, England, he writes for various publishers. In his spare time he hikes, kayaks, and reads as many Victorian adventure novels as he can get his hands on. His mind is somewhat mercurial. His inspiration is the night sky.