“Debris Dreams” by David Colby
Title: Debris Dreams
Series: The Lunar Cycle
Author: David Colby
Genre: YA Lesbian Science Fiction
Publisher: Thinking Ink Press
The year: 2069
The place: Sun-Earth Lagrange Point L1, 1.5 million kilometers above the surface of the Earth
The objective: Survive
Sixteen-year-old Drusilla Zhao lives in the Hub, a space station used by the Chinese-American Alliance as a base to exploit Luna’s resources. Desperate to break free of the Alliance, a terrorist group from the Moon destroys the space elevator, space’s highway to Earth. In a flash, Dru’s parents are dead and she is cut off from her girlfriend Sarah on Earth.
The Alliance declares war against the Moon, conscripting Dru and all the youth of the Hub. Dru is forced to become a soldier fighting in the lethal vacuum of space. Can Dru survive lunar terrorist attacks and find her way home to Sarah?
This coming of age young adult military space adventure starts with sobering beginnings, with Drusilla Zhao, a Chinese-American living on a space station, pining for a long-distance girlfriend as she communicates with her through satellite messages. Dru’s parents work on the international space elevator, a piece of unbelievable technology connecting the Earth to all of its interstellar colonies, and while her parents toil away Dru’s only company are the other kids whose parents work similar 24-hr jobs. Unfortunately for Dru, this leaves her in dorm-like conditions and very much alone most of the time.
Dru’s dreams of meeting her girlfriend in person for the first time are dashed when a band of lunar separatists destroy the space elevator, thus killing Dru’s and many other children’s parents and demolishing a swath of Kenya. Not only does Dru lose everything she’s ever cared about, but now she finds herself among fellow orphans, fighting for survival in the middle of a civil war.
You would think it would be a relief when Dru and the other children are finally rescued, but instead they are conscripted into the Chinese-American Alliance as space marines, fighting against the separatists. Dru wants nothing more than to return to Earth and check on her girlfriend, the only family she has left, but the military molds the rag-tag group of orphans into an elite fighting force–warning: this is where our story veers dangerously into Ender’s Game territory–and Dru soars through the ranks to Star Corporal.
This was a classic YA space story and a bit silly at times, but Drusilla Zhao’s character was a complete win for me and she was far more endearing than Andrew Wiggin. At first she is stuck in a rut, ruled by the fate of her parents’ choice of work. As a child, she has very few avenues of expressing her desires and self actualizing, until her parents die during the terrorist attack on the elevator. Despite being thrust into adventure, Dru is once again pushed along by other people’s whims–surviving after the attack and then being drafted into the military. She really comes into her own after she works her way up the ranks. It was fun to see her grow, even if it was a bit unrealistic. The most available premise of her growth was that you should always believe in yourself.
I also liked the bits of Mandarin and the addition of aspects of Chinese-American culture, which kept this from morphing into the standard little white-cis-het boy’s fantasy. May I also add the cover is kick ass? In typical YA fashion, this wasn’t exactly hard science fiction, but I appreciated the playfulness. At several points there were discussions on the delicacy of farting in a space suit. All in all, it was a fun and adventure-filled read. I’d recommend it to those who loved Ender’s Game and other similar works.
This work was originally posted to Queer Sci Fi.