Scions of the Star Empire 1: Scandal by Athena Grayson

Scions of the Star Empire 1: ScandalA couple years ago, Athena Grayson introduced us to Treska, a bounty hunter in a far future star empire who was not what she thought she was. This Star Empire, from Treska’s point of view, was a tightly controlled, highly moralistic place where rebellion had become almost a sport.

Now Grayson takes us to another part of the empire, its center, where nobles and royals are not only tracked obsessively on social media for their foibles, but their Social Capital (or SoCap) is more important than the stock market. Fortunes are made and lost betting on a given noble’s or royal’s SoCap.

Ione is the daughter of the emperor. She, like all nobles and royals, live in the spires of an arcology over Landfall. Her life, and those of her fellow noble offspring, are governed by the Cultural Trust, who approve all alliances by marriage. Ione desperately wants to be with Den, son of a powerful (yet extremely petty) noble. There is no guarantee even though the alliance is logical. At a ball, Den sends his SoCap through the roof by defeating his sword master with a difficult move in an exhibition match. Ione and Den celebrate by escaping the prying eyes of the arcology’s surveillance to fool around a bit. Only a gossip columnist whose fortune is based on Ione’s bad behavior manages to snap a shot of Ione’s bared breasts. This will not do, and Ione, Den, and two of their friends chase said columnist down to the lower levels. There, they learn a different reality exists, one irrelevant to life in the spires above.

Scandal, episode 1 of the Scions series, starts off as a scifi romance, but it moves rather quickly into a stinging commentary on celebrity and social media.

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