Poor Relations is a science fiction novel set in Mars and the solar system in the twenty-fourth century. I started writing it a long time ago, right after I finished Tooth and Claw, and I stalled out on it. I kept coming back to it, and finally picked it up and got it finished in 2016.
Jane Austen said that the ideal story is about a number of families in a small village, and then strangers arrive. Poor Relations is like that, except the village is on Mars and the strangers are an alien invasion. The two strong and conscious influences on this book are John Varley’s Eight Worlds stories and Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park.
Tor’s Cover Copy
Described by Jo Walton as “Mansfield Park on Mars,” Poor Relations is an eye-opening exploration of social and financial precarity, brilliantly imagined and deeply pertinent to today
“When it came down to it, you couldn’t legislate against the economics of sex and gender any more than you could legislate against people being poor.”
It’s the twenty-fourth century. Humanity has spread throughout the solar system―but for most of us, life is as precarious as it was in Dickensian England. Brothers Achille, Marcantonio, and Nore have been raised rich, but after their father spends the family fortune and puts a laser to his head, they’re forced to face facts. The wealthy Luke Bailey is willing to pay top dollar for what’s left of their estate, enough to buy Achille a commission in the space Navy. But only if Marcantonio and Nore will both become female―Marcantonio to marry Luke, and Nore to be their spinster housekeeper, for as long as Luke lives.
Over the next two decades, the now-female Marcantonio and Nore struggle to make lives for themselves in the service of their wealthy keeper. Then the alien invasion arrives.
So yes. It has nanotech, and aliens, and gender, and a rather odd society.
It’ll be coming out from Tor February 20th 2018. And it has a spaceship on the cover! Because it has a spaceship — more than one, even. Lots.