Amy is a young lawyer with a good job in a law firm in Mars City.
She’s astonished and delighted when her firm selects her, of all its associates, to travel across the Solar System to the mining colony of Callisto to work on setting up a stock exchange there.
It’s a very unfamiliar environment in that unimaginably remote place: young and dynamic, not exactly cultured or refined, and overwhelmingly male. She makes good headway, earns respect, and finds – what, exactly? Can it be love?
But Amy has a problem. Her sister is a celebrity, famous throughout the Solar System as a champion in weightless gymnastics; and the two sisters’ relationship has always, as long as Amy can remember, been dogged by jealousy, tension and resentment. Feelings that make Amy herself unhappy and wretched.
Will the sisters manage to mend their relationship, be real sisters at last, when they meet on Callisto? They both deeply desire to.
And then political events take a quite unexpected turn.
Hella Lundgren, famous concert pianist, originally from Sweden, now resident on Mars for many years, is about to embark on the voyage of a lifetime, to be one of the star performers at a music festival far away from home: in the Jovian System, consisting of three of the moons of Jupiter.
A homegrown movement has taken over the running there, secession is in the air, and both sides want to use Hella for their own purposes, with an eye to the PR benefit of having such a celebrity taking their part.
But nobody knows that Hella has just been diagnosed with a disease that will soon stop her from playing and, after that, kill her. Only those who are closest and dearest to her; and none of those are on board.
Hella has to work out what this knowledge means for her, for the shape of her whole life; she needs to understand her own feelings; beside her day job as a musician she now has a political job to do for which she feels woefully unprepared; and new perspectives and emotions are starting to burgeon, now near the end of her life, that create quite unexpected challenges.
What would it really be like to be part of the first colony on Mars, not too far in the future?
To have a four year old daughter, a part-time job and a best friend, and then to split from your insensitive husband and become Mars’s first single mother?
Selena knows she has just a few months to secure her right to stay, or to board the ship that is already on its way from Earth and leave her daughter here on Mars, for ever.
But life goes on at the same time and has to be lived: Selena is a mother, and a friend, and a woman, and the people around her are real people.
And as the time she knows she has passes, as everything that makes her life worthwhile seems to be slipping away and she fights despair, will she notice that someone else is beginning to care deeply for her?