Sixteen-year-old Rae Stroder lives in a hollow asteroid, a defunct refuelling station, with a brain-damaged adult, Gris, to keep her company. Low on supplies, they’ve been eking out an existence for years. Everything changes when Alwin Anton, ultra-clean, smart and handsome AllEarth Corp company auditor, arrives to find disarray. Full of suspicion, he interrogates Rae, threatening her with prosecution for theft. He uncovers the fact that she is not Rae Stroder at all, when space pirates attack.Rayessa and the Space Pirates was a fun read. Rayessa is gutsy but woefully undereducated through no fault of her own. She makes do on her sucky asteroid and, as one would expect, dreams of a better life. Although this novella was published by an imprint of Harlequin, it's not really a romance story. There is a romantic element, but to no greater extent than you would expect from a non-romance genre SFF story. And that was fine by me. I am much more a fan of space adventure than of Romance with a capital R.
The setting doesn't take itself too seriously — pirates! aliens! abandoned asteroids! — but which doesn't (erroneously) oversimplify the science too much. Although, I will say the passing mention to it being set in the 2050s was a bit confusing and, based on the technology etc, off by at least a hundred years, probably more. It would take more than 37 years just to build an asteroid base like Rayessa was living on, let alone the giant Saturnian space station that shows up. Anyway, it's a minor point that's easily dismissed and there wasn't anything glaringly silly in the rest of the sciencey stuff.
The style of the story reminded me strongly of Simon Haynes's Hal Spacejock books. Actually, perhaps somewhere in between Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior (and not just because YA falls between adult and younger readers/"middle grade"). Rayessa is no incompetent pilot with an inflated sense of her own abilities, but she's not just a kid getting into elaborate trouble either. In any case, if you enjoyed any of the Hal books, I strongly urge you to give Rayessa and the Space Pirates a try. I hope Hanson writes more stories set in the same universe, particularly about Rayessa.
I enjoyed Rayessa and the Space Pirates and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a quick and/or light-hearted space adventure romp. With pirates.
4 / 5 stars
First published: January 2013, Escape Publishing (digital only imprint of Harlequin AU)
Format read: ebook on my Kobo
Source: purchased on iBooks (link to publisher's page with purchasing info) (DRM-free which is how it got on my Kobo. Isn't lack of DRM nice?)
Challenges: Australian Science Fiction Reading Challenge, Australian Women Writers Challenge 2013