High stakes chariot-type racing in spaceships around the moons of a planet which humanity’s attackers (The Fear) are based. The charioteers are bondsmen, and the comparison to Roman times is made very (unnecessarily) clear by dint of the Roman names of the characters – Scorpus the charioteer and Governor Flavio Maxim the (evil) slave owner.
The story follows Scorpus as he approaches the race through which he may achieve his freedom, interspersed with backstory about the the evil Flavio in previous years. Other significant characters are the AI of the racing spaceship with whom Scorpus has a well established relationship, and Lucas, the slave wrangler.
The story builds up to a climax with the two primary characters playing a lesser role in the final denouement than the two secondary characters. It’s a story that has echoes of films and TV shows, and doesn’t really do anything original. The missed opportunity is having Scorpus having had erased the memory of his wife, jettisoned into space by Flavio. That should have been a burning, but suppressed driving force behind Scorpus, that leads him throughout the story to make the final decision about his and Flavio’s fate and wreak his revenge.
All in all, the story feels more like a storified version of an episode of an SF tv series