Frontier by Grace Curtis

In the distant future most of the human race has fled a ravaged Earth to find new life on other planets. For those who stayed a lawless society remains. Technology has been renounced, and saints and sinners, lawmakers and sheriffs, travelers and gunslingers, abound.

What passes for justice is presided over by the High Sheriff, and carried out by his cruel and ruthless Deputy.

Then a ship falls from the sky, bringing the planet’s first visitor in three hundred years. This Stranger is a crewmember on the first ship in centuries to attempt a return to Earth and save what’s left. But her escape pod crashes hundreds of miles away from the rest of the wreckage.

The Stranger finds herself adrift in a ravaged, unwelcoming landscape, full of people who hate and fear her space-born existence. Scared, alone, and armed, she embarks on a journey across the wasteland to return to her ship, her mission, and the woman she loves.

Fusing the fire and brimstone of the American Old West with sprawling post-apocalyptic science fiction, FRONTIER is a heartfelt queer romance in a high noon standoff set against the backdrop of our planet’s uncertain future.

YEAR: 2023
LENGTH: 287 pages
AGE: Adult
GENRE: Romance, Science Fiction

Queer Rep Summary: Lesbian/Sapphic Main Character(s), Gay/Achillean Secondary Character(s), Ace/Aro Main Character(s).

FRONTIER is a post-apocalyptic story with Wild West vibes, religious bigotry, petty tyrants, and former space soldier trying to find the person she lost.

I love the opening chapter, it sets up the book's tone in a way that is followed through very well. As the traveler moves around, trying to find something with a signal strong enough to reach space, there are a series of vignette. These snippets build a sense of people's lives in different communities and settlements and the roads in between. So many facets of their lives imply this more complicated whole, without it ever trying to be about any one of them, nor pulling attention from the traveler from space. 

The language and word choice is inseparable from the worldbuilding. There seems to be one main religion, a handful of agnostics, and as many ways to interpret the basic tenets as there are characters. The current human inhabitants of Earth are the descendants of a particular religious sect that believed some combination of the Earth being god with climate change as her punishment. These people stayed behind when humanity went to the stars. Now, heir descendants distrust anything that comes from space or is too technologically sophisticated, but what is "like space" or "too much technology" varies wildly from community to community, sheriff to sheriff, religious leader to agnostic nomad. 

I loved every page and I want there to be more. This is perfectly paced in its current length but I wish it weren't over.

Graphic/Explicit CW for xenophobia.

Moderate CW for cursing, ableism, bullying, blood, violence, gun violence, murder, death.

Minor CW for fire, drug use, medical content, vomit, war, colonization.

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