Second Skin is a near-future novel set in and around Mars and the Asteroid belt, where highly developed mining operations take raw ore for the asteroids and shoots it to refineries near Mars for processing. Mars has recently gained its independence from Earth and is expanding its own influence further out into the Solar system. Teleportation is being developed, but not yet perfected, and an anarchistic group of ice pirates is preparing to challenge both Mars and Earth.
In this setting, young Max Cody is preparing to bring an asteroid in-system to be precessed at a MOSA (Mars Orbital Smelting Array) station in orbit around Mars. He’s injured in the process and gets healed and upgraded by aliens from another dimension. These upgrades give him new abilities he has to master to help save both Earth and Mars from the pirates and their allies.
Second Skin is a fun read, reminiscent of early Heinlein, Bova, or Asimov stories. Max makes a good young protagonist, and the director of the MOSA station, Daniel Sinclair, a good balance of an older male figure (also Heinleinesque in its first- and second-stage male characters). There was some awkward dialog to bring the reader up to speed about the current setting that didn’t feel natural to the story, but that quickly passed. It’s an entertaining novel, with lively characters and situations, and an open storyline for further books.
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