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Up Against It    by Laura J. Mixon order for
Up Against It
by Laura J. Mixon
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2022 (2011)
Softcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

I'm not sure how I missed this outstanding space opera when it was first published (originally under the name M.J. Locke), but I'm very glad that I found and have read it now. I highly recommend Laura J. Mixon's Up Against It to any SF fan.

One lead is Phoecea asteroid colony resource manager Jane Navio. She always has a lot on her plate but a Martian crime syndicate makes her job even more challenging after it engineers an accident that dumps a delivery of water and methane, desperately needed by the colony.

The other lead is teen Geoff, who, with his three best buddies (Kam, Amaya, Ian) is 'about to mess with the bugs' (assemblers that build the tiny machines that keep the colony running) in the habitat city of Zekeston. Their manipulation results in a skeletal display rising out of the fountain.

After this, the teens head out on their rocketbikes into the Big Empty for the ice harvest. When it's sabotaged, they save enough to last a couple of weeks, but the disaster kills Geoff's older brother Carl. The Martian Mob offer to help the stroiders but accepting would turn Phoecea into their client-state.

The colony's problems escalate to include a feral AI. Geoff et al are involved again - against it, as well as against Martian mercenaries with powerful weaponry. They - and Jane - save the day repeatedly, with a little help from transhumanist Viridians. Don't miss Up Against It.

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