Carr “The Raptor” Luka has been rising in the ranks of zeroboxers — men and women who fight in zero gravity. He’s just signed with an agent, been assigned a brandhelm (publicity manager), procured a sponsor, and he hopes to be able to compete for the championship title. As political tensions rise between the residents of Earth and Mars, Carr’s success becomes a point of pride and an inspiration for Earth, “the old dirt ball.”
While on a publicity tour, Carr discovers some information about a crime that someone close to him has committed. This brings on a major ethical dilemma as he decides whether or not to report the crime. It’s not as simple as “doing the right thing” because not only is Carr’s career threatened, but so is the fragile peace between Earth and Mars. Not to mention the devastating effect this information would have on all of Carr’s fans, especially the young boys who idolize him.
I am surprised by how much I enjoyed Zeroboxer (2015). Being a neuroscientist, I hate the sport of boxing and never watch it. I thought maybe zero gravity boxing might be okay, but it’s still pretty brutal. Despite that, I thought Carr’s situation was so compelling. I really felt the difficulty of his ethical situation and understood why Carr didn’t know what to do.
Carr is a great protagonist. He’s strong, masculine, and ruthless in a fight, but Fonda Lee gives him a soft side, too. He loves his mom, befriends a kid who’s a target for bullies, and is tender with his girlfriend. (Though Lee could have done a better job convincing me that their relationship wasn’t based mostly on just that they’re both great looking.) I loved the ending of Zeroboxer, which reminded me of Jesus’s words: “the truth will set you free.”
Stefan Rudnicki narrated Skyboat Media’s edition of Zeroboxer. He’s one of my favorite narrators and I thought his deep voice was a good fit for this story. I recommend this version.