Jack, an older teen, is a spacer, someone who has lived his entire life on Freedom Station, a space station in the Asteroid Belt, in the Black (as space is known). Generations of humans have lived out in the Black, on Freedom Station and other colonies, but there are still more ships full of Earthies coming, trying to escape the problems back on Earth and not really understanding the foreign culture and challenges they’re escaping to.
Jack works in a pub, where he meets all kinds of people and is familiar with all kinds of technology (“tech”). One evening after work, he meets Kit, a runaway sneaking around behind the pub:
The Earthie girl glared at him, hands on her hips, all wild, wiry white hair and eyes as bright green and iridescent as fish scales. They had to be gen mods, no way they could be natural, but Jack had never seen them in the catalog. “You don’t have to grab people.” She sounded just like a school vid, teaching the basic regs. “And don’t call me ‘rat.’”
Jack laughed. “You are a rat. True fact. Your parents dumped you here.”
“Look, spacer.” She took a step closer, her eyes narrow bright slits. Jack took a step back. He couldn’t help it. “No one dumped me on this rusty space station.”
It happened all the time. Earthie parents got out this far into the Black and ran out of supplies, ran out of credit. Ran out of caring. They knew the guards would round their kids up and shuttle them right back to Earth.
As they get to know each other better and try to protect a special bot (robot), Kit changes Jacks’ preconceived notions of her. They have to work together if they hope to achieve their goals.
I love the way this book is written, with spacer slang sprinkled throughout the dialogue that really helps to create a sense of a place and time different from our own. The characters have real depth, and the plot is exciting and fast-paced, with a nice dose of humor throughout. Spacer and Rat is a unique book about what it means to be human – a definite winner both for sci-fi fans and for anyone who enjoys a good adventure story told with heart.
183 pages, Roaring Brook Press