This is a novella published by Tor. It currently has 21 recommendations on the Nebula Recommended Reading List.

Marmeg is unlicensed, has cobbled together a set of exos and some illegal embed chips so she can work as a club security guard. The Minerva Sierra Challenge is coming up, and Marmeg dreams of winning the race so she can get real gear and trans surgery to become a beautiful asexual moot. Her Filipino mother works as a health aide and dreams of Marmeg going to school to become a nurse. Instead, Marmeg has spent the tuition money on the entry fee for the race. She spends the last of her wages to get to the site, lies about a support team and starts the race. She quickly runs into bad weather, dangerous competitors and survivalist nats who offer her an opportunity to cheat. What will she do?

As Greg Hullender has promised in recent comments, I’ve gotten a solid story right at the top of the novella recommendations. Pros: This is science fiction, as there wouldn’t be a story without the technology and the moots. It’s got pretty well defined characters, strong imagery, good human elements and a strong plot. The main theme is about honesty and values, but sub-themes about body alteration, survivalism, illegal status and the American caste system ask questions and add complexity. Cons: The prose is a little clunky. Plus, I’m suspicious of the HEA (happily ever after) ending and that Marmeg is rewarded so generously for her value choices. Given the setting, I’d expect the adults and the wealthy class would be as far into the caste system as anybody else. I’m also a little concerned that she gives up her own dreams so quickly.

Solid competitor. Four stars and a half.

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