I read this book about 7-Dec-2023. This is the first time I've read this book. The book is copyright 2023. This note was last modified Thursday, 14-Dec-2023 21:00:25 PST.
This note contains spoilers for the book.
Teenage girl on a loosely associated cluster of seasteadings gets involved in big stuff.
I believe this is a "fixup", the individual sections were published separately some time ago.
I enjoyed this a lot. The libertarian seasteads were portrayed as more like cyberpunk dystopias than regulation-free untopias, but I think that makes sense. There is only one person selling drinking water on each steading, and nobody has started certification agencies that they can claim conformance to—so when one of them runs gray water into the mix and spreads cholera, there's not much to be done.
The first-person progagonist is a teenage girl, who has spent much of her life in the seastead; it's normal to her (though movies and things come from the outside world, and she spent early time ashore). I'd say this is a young adult novel (which I like too).
In fact, this ticks basically all the boxes for a "Heinlein juvenile". Probably why I like it, I loved those. First-person protagonist not yet adult, either starting in or being moved into a very different society from ours, having to deal with big issues not usually dealt with by teenagers, and being vastly unaware of sex for their age. (There is a mention of brothels existing, and Beck clearly knows what a brothel is, and one encounter is talked of as a "date", but no signs of sexual tension or attraction. This is actually a little strange, since at her age (she turns 16 during the book) it's weird to be unaware of sex and sexual tension and such, even if you are ACE; the people around you are still mostly in the game in one way or another.)
The stakes are pretty big. Her father is probably guilty of bioterrorism charges, her friend's father is a major embezzler in addition to a tax cheater, and the work Sal steading has contracted to do for the US, and the work they'e done to create the worker plague, are vastly unethical and probably illegal under international law.
The only organized power shown really positively in the novel is a mercenary police group calling themselves the Alpha Dogs. They fulfill their contracts, do things for the benefit of the steading (and certainly also themselves) without pay when nobody is in a position to pay them, and generally behave decently. Oh, and avoid violence pretty successfully.
Of course the rich people immediately flee in their yachts when things start going pear-shaped; part of why the teenagers become important in resolving things.