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Why you must read Laura Montgomery’s Manx Prize


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In the second half of the twenty-first century, when Charlotte Fisher was just thirteen, orbital debris took its first large-scale human casualties from an orbiting tourist habitat.

Haunted by visions of destruction and her father’s anguish, as a young engineer Charlotte follows in his footsteps and determines to win a prize offered by a consortium of satellite and orbitat operators for the first successful de-orbiting of space junk. Her employer backs these efforts until the reentry of a piece of debris kills two people, and she and her team are spun off to shield the parent company from liability. With limited resources, a finite budget and the unwanted gift of a lawyer who, regardless of his appeal, she doesn’t need, she must face a competitor who cheats, a collusive regulator, and the temptations dangled by the strange and alluring friends of a powerful seastead.

It almost sounds like an industrial espionage novel, full of intrigue. But, of course, it’s science fiction.
This is ground-based science fiction. It’s about getting to space, but it takes place on Earth.

That’s probably why it reminded us of more Earth-bound genres.
My favorite books are about space travel, alien planets, lost colonies, space opera, and the human settlement of space. But when I read these stories of far off adventure, there’s always a part of me that wonders what the people on Earth think about it all and how they are reacting. So far, my stories are about the people on the ground.

We’ve never thought of that before – but now we’re never going to be able to read another scifi book without wondering about those left behind. Who else do you think this novel will appeal to?
I think it will appeal to readers who like to think about near-term, near-space events, and people who like competitions. This is a race. Space is hard. In real life and in the book, we haven’t got very far, not even back to the moon. I think it will appeal to space fans, people who like a light romantic subplot, lawyers, and anyone interested in new ideas about dealing with orbital debris.

Tell us about Charlotte.
Charlotte Fisher, the engineer, is a very determined, driven woman. She is obsessed with winning the Manx Prize, not only for the glory of it all, but to wipe away the tragedy her father endured when she was just a girl.

You mentioned romance. Who is her love interest and what is he like?
Ethan Beauregard, the lawyer, is a little more frivolous, with a penchant for poetry. He, too, is caught up in the race for the prize and in doing everything he can to help Charlotte.

Have you written any other books that we should read next?
I published The Sky Suspended last year. It’s a novel of asteroids past, crowds, lawyers, and a starship.

More space. Where does the interest come from?
I’m a space lawyer. There’s more than a little space law in my books.

What’s next?
I’m working on the sequel to The Sky Suspended, and planning to publish some short stories.

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