Literature: Earth Girl

Earth Girl is a 2012 Young Adult Science Fiction novel written by Janet Edwards.

Even though she always loved finding artefacts of the Exodus Century on archaeological dig sites, pre-history buff Jarra would love nothing more than leave Earth and travel to the other sectors settled since portal tech was developed – but she is stuck for life. Handicapped people like her have a sort of allergy that has them go into anaphylactic shock and almost kills them within minutes once they leave Earth. Sucks!

But what she hates even more than being stuck is being seen as a backwater ape by the rest of humanity. So she sneaks into a pre-history class from Asgard, Gamma Sector to show them all what bigots they are. Only to find herself rather liking more and more people in her class … A sometimes dramatic, sometimes hilarious coming of age story ensues.

In the 2013 sequel Earth Star the military drafts Jarra and Fian to help investigate an unmanned alien probe that has appeared in Earth orbit.

The 2014 book Earth Flight concludes the trilogy. The message from the Alien probe takes months to decode, meanwhile Jarra is now a cross-sector famous star, loved by millions, and hated by almost as many.

Tropes:

  • Absent Aliens: At the time of Earth Girl, humanity has not encountered another intelligent space-faring species. They have, however, encountered lots of alien plant and animal life and so far two species of primitive tool using neo-intelligent aliens they leave alone until they develop further. Also, the very dangerous, but not sentient, Chimera, who they however nuked into extinction. But this changes in the next book, see First Contact. Book three reveals a sad truth: The probe/Fortuna aliens were apparently wiped out by the Chimera who turn out to be not extinct after all. But their ruins remain and xenoarcheological excavations begin.
  • Ace Pilot: Drago has managed to fly a freight ship through a portal it would barely fit through at walking speed at a much higher speed and survive, something no-one has been able to replicate in simulators since then. He also saved the inhabited continent of Hera from an asteroid fragment impact by ramming into it, thereby changing its course in such a way that it could be taken out by the planet's solar array. And he is solely responsible for Maia's death count to be seven, rather than over 200 (due to giant flying killer lizards).
  • Adventurer Archaeologist: Jarra, Fian, her digging Team 1, Playdon, their whole class and Romo's research team all count. Let's list: pre-history excavations are all about unearthing stasis boxes with Lost Technology. Anything between the surface of the rubble pile and the stasis boxes to be found can pretty much be freely thrown around, exploded and generally discarded (because there are too many quickly decaying dig sites and to few dig teams to be as slow as real world archeology — pre-history archaeology is basically a race against time). Our heroes (that is, mostly Jarra) remember the Ark caves to evacuated the handicapped to, excavate a rubble-buried crash-landed spaceship, dig out and reactivate alien tech, make first contact with an alien probe, run away from a space ship armed with a frigging Laser beam and fake their own death, survive an attack of a missile-filled space ship, get Alpha Sector to allow Earth to join them, get the Earth government to be democratically elected, have her immune system replaced by a risky potentially fetal experimental technology to be able to leave Earth and is the first Handicapped person in history to go on an extrasolar travel, figure out the chimera could still be around, are pioneers in xenoarcheology, have a statue/memorial for her and her teams, win at life.
  • All There in the Manual: The free short story series Earth 2788 provides background for all seven sectors and backstories for Jarra, Dalmora, Lolia, Krath, Fian, Amalie, Rian Torrek and Drago Tell Dramis.
  • A True Story In My Universe: Jarra writes the series In-Universe to dispel misconceptions about the handicapped and put her perspective of various events in the public record. See Fling a Light into the Future.
  • Blessed with Suck: The handicapped can't portal, going into anaphylactic shock once they leave Earth/Sol for a still unknown reason. No cure could be developed so far. In book three it turns out some planets with more solar storms than Planet First selection criteria allow for are habitable by the Handicapped. Also an experimental cure developed during the Exodus century and lost in a stasis box ever since is rediscovered. It is highly risk though because it majorly alters the Handicapped's immune system and if it fails, it kills the patient. After a near-miss it ultimately works for Jarra.
  • Blitz Evacuees: Everyone on Earth fled to underground caves under Australia called the Ark during the First Contact crisis.
  • Badass Bookworm: Jarra, Fian, Amalie, Playdon, it's just that most of the theory lectures are off-screen, except the ones useful for exposition of course.
  • Bi the Way: Mack/Lolmack and Ardreath were lovers before Lolia came along and they formed a triad marriage. Mack/Lolmack stayed with Lolia when Ardreath broke the marriage bond with Lolia because of her handicapped child. Previous to that Lolia actually feared Mack would leaver her for his first love Ardreath and had sometimes felt like being the fifth wheel.
    • Possibly Rian Torrek, as he agreed to a triad marriage with a girl and a boy, both from Beta sector, but only loved the girl, and whether he later developed feelings for the boy is left open.
  • Big Damn Heroes: The various research teams at Earth New York, including Jarra's team try to pull this for the downed military spacecraft that got buried in rubble during the Carrington Event. They succeed.
    • In the finale, when Jarra and Fian are about to die either from their attacker's leaser beam or the artificial island they are on collapsing, first Jarra's gun works again allowing her to kill their attacker, then Marliese and Drago fly in via drop portal to save them in the nick of time.
  • Bold Explorer: The military's main job is the Planet First programme of finding and exploring suitable new planets and making them safe for people to live on. This can be quite hazardous, as shown by the Chimera aliens and the sad death toll every Planet First mission so far has had.
  • The Chessmaster: Leveque carefully manoeuvred everyone, including Jarra, Raven, the Tell Clan, the Military Alliance, Psych Division, Earth registry, Earth portal administration and [Gaius Corlianus], into just the right spots at the right times to sway public opinion and those of parliamentary representatives get Earth admitted to Alpha sector and democratised and special planets for the handicapped approved. And he did it without having to sacrifice any pawns, too. And with great personal pain at the risks he subjects Jarra to, as he shows her in one scene where he lets his carefully controlled dispassionate mask fall.
  • Cool Gate: Jarra reacts awed to seeing the sudden drop portal appear in earth's atmo in the first book. In the third book, one of those is used again for a Big Damn Heroes moment
  • Cloning Body Parts: Small injuries are fixed with regrowth units attached to the injured body part, while the regrow tanks can restore whole legs, arms, 98% of a person's skin and multiple majorly injured internal organs. As long as your brain did not get squashed, you'd probably survive just fine. The brain could actually be regrown, but this is forbidden under the Protection of Humanity laws as it can entail massive memory and personality loss and could obviously be abused to clone somebody. Commander Stone of the Alien Contact programme overrides this to regrow Jarra's and Raven's brains and restore Jarra's memories with secret tech from Cioni's Apprentices.
  • Crazy-Prepared: The military. In book 2, once the Alien Contact programme kicks in, they are prepared for any eventuality and doing anything, up to and including nuking Earth from orbit. They have missiles standing by, pointed towards Earth during the whole crisis. The probability of the probe being hostile is recalculated constantly and new possibilities like the Ark are incorporated immediately. In the third book, they jump at the discovery that some planets previously not considered for Planet First because of too much solar radiation are habitable for the Handicapped as that gives them places to evacuate the Handicapped to if Earth has to be cleared/abandoned because of an alien attack or another Carrington Event Also, as a precaution to this day, all military vehicles, equipment and animal barriers still have chimera detectors. This turns out to be warranted in Earth Flight as the chimera turn out to be not extinct after all.
  • Determinator: Jarra hates taking meds and would rather her impact suit bruises heal on their own. She is also ready to infiltrate an Exo class to defy their prejudices, excavate a buried spaceship, overcome impact suit PTSD, dig out alien tech, go into hiding in the wilderness of Earth, run away from an armed spaceship trying to kill her through a forest fire, have her immune system replaced by a risky potentially fetal experimental technology to be able to leave Earth and is the first Handicapped person in history to go on an extrasolar travel.
  • Earth That Used to Be Better: Even though it is still the most populous planet, all that is left on Earth now are mostly the handicapped, their families, pre-history dig teams and Hospital Earth staff. Earth is also run by an unelected government of off-worlders and can't vote for Alpha Sector Parliament either. See Homeworld Evacuation for why.
  • Engineered Public Confession: In book 2, the military use Jarra to find Xenophobes in their own ranks by provoking them into calling her an ape after egregiously promoting Jarra and subsequently remove them from the fighter squads.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: In Earth Flight, Fian's father and the underground radical scientist organisation Cioni's Apprentices he belongs to ultimately help Jarra and the military by providing tech to restore her memories to a regrown brain because the possible scientific and technological gains from exploring the ruins of Fortuna outweigh their prejudices against her (only Jarra and Fian together could power down the planetary defences).
  • Fake Ultimate Hero: The military make Jarra one in Earth Star to calm down people's hysteria about the alien probe.
  • A Father to His Men: General Riak Torrek. As someone who came from a civilian farming planet background, he particularly cares for other sector recruits. (90% of military recruits come from military families, only 10% from sector civilians) In the prequel short Kappa Sector 2788 he talks a young sector recruit out of prematurely giving up on his military career with stories of how hard it was for him to catch up to the military born recruits, how often the others had to talk him out of leaving and how he made a much more embarrassing mistake during his first Planet First command job than the recruit who was mistakenly ordered to take off the front door of the then Colonel's quarters. In the same story he retires because he wants to make room for younger, physically and mentally stronger commanders who need less rejuvenation treatments.
    • In book one he commands the Earth Solar Arrays (this seems to usually be a quiet retirement assignment) and manages to evacuate most of the military to Earth after a sudden unforeseeable Carrington Event shuts all portals down and the radiation threatens to kill the soldiers. Mind you, he gets them evacuated in cargo ships made for space travel only, without any heat-shields, life support other than from their impact suits, or built-for-atmosphere thrusters. Somehow his crew manages to McGyver some heat shields onto those ships under enormous time pressures and land the ships with amazingly few losses.
    • It is implied he gets the Alien Contact programme command post in book two not just because of his tremendous experience and seniority, but especially because of his level-headedness, kindness and good judgement. The military needed a reliable, not trigger-happy commander who can see the bigger picture and provide mentoring when needed, all of which and more he provided to his men and women.
      • Speaking of mentoring, he has to reassure Jarra many times during the last two books (because she keeps blaming herself for the anti-Handicapped hate and violence her friends are more and more subjected to too) and does so splendidly.
  • Fantastic Racism: Against the Handicapped, which are a fraction of humanity who can't leave Earth via the portal network because their immune system goes into anaphylactic shock and kills them within two minutes. Earth is run by an off-worlder dictatorship, the Handicapped aren't considered for the nobel prize and all sorts of awards because the can't travel to other worlds and are treated and portrayed as sub-humans in off-worlder media.
  • Fantastic Slur: "Ape" is the common term that non-handicapped people use for the handicapped, but is nonetheless treated as a very disrespectful thing to call someone. In particular, Jarra's Cool Teacher Playdon makes it clear that he doesn't want to hear that word from his students unless they're quoting the phrase "Genius apes, stupid exos" (a favorable saying describing how those who live on Earth know way more about it than those who don't). "Exo" is also one, though given that the story is told from the perspective of a handicapped girl who doesn't think much of the non-handicapped, this isn't as obvious.
  • The Federation: The sector-spanning government/federation/union of humanity appears to be this, unified and past waging war among nations. Other than that there is a Parliament of Planets, a Joint Sector High Committee (a sort of cross-sector executive council mostly deciding on military policy) and the Military, few details are known about how exactly it is run, but each planet (except Earth) and sector have their own parliament, the military are revered explorers, peace-keepers (pretty similar to contemporary UN blue helmet troops) and stewards of the solar power relays, and freedom of speech has been shown to only be curtailed by military classification (Military Intelligence, mentioned in passing in the first book, are probably responsible for that). The military has many engineer, medical, admin and so on officers who are neither issued a gun (usually) nor part of the chain of command (all and any combat military can order them around). Sectors and planets have many local laws and customs but there are also sector-spanning laws like the involuntary drafting of experts under the Alien Contact programme. Each sector has a sector parliament and a head of sector. It appears like a mix between the UN, the EU and the US.
    • One World Order: The government of Earth, called the [Board of Earth Hospital] is composed entirely of off-worlders, appointed by Alpha Sector Parliament, and pretty much a (not always, but thankfully often enough) benevolent dictatorship with some elements of of a Mega Corp.. They have made such hated decisions as forcing kids into medical and psychological experiments (because they, not the kid's Pro Parents they appointed are technically their legal guardian), changing the way ages are calculated to get rid of the kids a year early and even at one point considered forcing all Handicapped to work in child-care for five years to fix the problem of to few people applying (they only abandoned that idea because they found it would increase the occurrence of child abuse, which didn't bother them as much as the fact that their bonuses would be cut for such a policy consequence.)
      • This becomes a major focus of Handicapped protests in the third book and they ultimately hand over power to a democratically elected self-government of the Handicapped by the end of it.
  • First Contact: Only discussed hypothetically. The military has an elaborate protocol for this, called the Alien Contact programme, giving them the power to draft anyone to help in dealing with the situation. Their approach is to go for a peaceful First Contact at all cost, because a more powerful race could obliterate them anyway and a less powerful race could be best intimidated by displaying their superior tech and firepower alone.
    • They also have an infinite budget, because First Contact is either the biggest opportunity to jump-start human tech or the biggest threat to the human race ever.
    • The Fermi Paradox is discussed, and the military has been sure First Contact would happen one day for centuries.
    • In Earth Star, First Contact finally happens. Not directly with aliens, but with a mysterious unmanned alien probe which the ultimate get acticated and which then sends out a huge data stream in the form of a sort of light sculpture.
    • In Earth Flight, they manage to decode the alien datastream and locate the alien home planet Fortuna. Unfortunately it turns out that after they sent out the probes a long time ago the probe builder alien race have since been wiped out by the Chimera which routinely hitch a ride between planets in spacecraft and are still around. So ultimately they did not get the first contact with living intelligent aliens they hoped for, but at least a whole planet of ruins to do xenoarcheology on.
  • First Contact Math: All automated exploration probes send standard mathematical greets, and in book two it turns out the buried alien artefact requires a set of answers to mathematical problems to grant another species access to the message encoded in a light sculpture and projected by the probe orbiting the artefact.
  • Fling a Light into the Future: Because Jarra is a passionate historian, and also to dispel prejudices against the handicapped, she wants there to be an authentic true report of the historic stuff that happened to her, so she writes the ''Earth Girl'' series. But she can't publish it because the military classified all of it – still she hopes future historians will get to read it once it gets declassified. In book three, she flings a light to her future self in case she loses her memories from brain regrowth.
  • Free-Love Future: Averted %Zigzagged?% hard: A huge emphasis is put on formalizing and officially registering relationships long before marriage with twoing contracts. The only place where free love seems to be broadly accepted, even there only in a rather limited fashion, is in Beta Sector for unmarried people who are free to sleep around with each other without being expected to enter into twoing contracts. Plus they have triad marriages. Open relationships for married, betrothed or two-ed couples appear to be taboo however, and the most ridiculously prude sector Delta officially only allows a twoing couple to hold hands more than sixth months into their relationship! People who are boy-and-girling are strongly encouraged to get a twoing contract on Earth. Dalmora from Alphan planet Daen is even expected to wait until after University before her first relationship! At least gay, lesbian and even bisexual marriages (remember the triad marriage?) are all universally accepted, so that's something much more free than what we have today.
  • Future Slang: Zan (awesome), amaz, grazzed, nardle (idiot), flexiplas (a new type of plexiglass), glowplas (a lumininescent kind of concrete), legs (butt), lookup (post-smartphone smartwatch/wristband device), powered (excited), Twoing (engagement), Boy-and-Girl-ing (kissing), pre-history (pre space settlement history on Earth), cheese fluffle (Jarra's inexplicably favourite food :D), nuke (equivalent to fuck).
  • Gender Is No Object: Both genders get to lust about the other's legs just the same. Oh, and everyone pretty much can do whatever job they want, worry about their spouse, make the first move and propose equally etc.
    • The only places with a big gender imbalance are the Colony ten worlds, where a lot of physical labour is needed to build all the initial settlements and infrastructure. On those worlds, men outnumber women by a factor of [10:1] and MM and MMF triad marriages are strongly encouraged, while FF and MFF triad marriages are strongly discouraged for obvious reasons.
  • Godzilla Threshold: We see two prominent examples of this in the books. Most well known, there is Thetis, which was nuked from orbit to eradicate the chimera who where threatening the very existence of humanity.
    • Then, somewhat less well known, but actually a much bigger example there is the Alien Contact programme, which kicks in once signs of a sentient alien life-form are found. It has an unlimited budget and confers its commander with the powers to override any laws whatsoever in the interests of a successful first contactUp to and including nuking planets overrun by aggressive aliens form orbit, including Earth, even though the handicapped cannot be evacuated or, regrowing injured brains or even outright cloning people, all outlawed by the Protection of Humanity Laws (Though he is expected to resign if he abuses those powers.) This is because First Contact is either the biggest opportunity to jump-start human tech or the biggest threat to the human race ever. For more details, see First Contact.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: In the final book, Jarra is famous across the human sectors and becomes a symbol for handicapped rights (and even for the misunderstood Betan sector, too). This does not sit well with reactionaries around the Isolationist party, who attack her with skunk juice, run a smear campaign against her, sabotage her betrothal and military assignment with questionable legal acrobatics and even try to outright kill her three times. This initially increases the hatred against Jarra but ultimately backfires, as the public sides in her favour more and more with each attack against her and Earth Registry get so pissed off that they interpret the court over with maximum prejudice and simply annul all twoing contracts with at least one exo participant made on Earth, which ends up affecting mostly Exo/Exo-couples and gives the prejudiced a taste of their own medicine.
  • Homeworld Evacuation: When portals where discovered, people yearned for the stars and left en-masse, known as the Exodus Century. They left in such a hurry that vital technology was lost because half of Earth's extensive databases and digital libraries were corrupted when someone royally screwed up the global data library back-up after a huge system crash After that monumental loss of human knowledge, backups of of human data are now kept at every major university on dozens of planets. The only likely copies of those corrupted files are now to be found preserved in buried stasis boxes, dug out by pre-history archaeologists.
  • Hope Spot: In book 2, Jarra fears the dig for the alien sender on Earth is just this.
  • Irony: The Planet First inspections are meant to ensure that planets travelled to by portal are suitable for human habitation. At the end of the third book, it's suggested that these same inspections may have resulted in the exclusion of planets with Earth-like levels of solar radiation that would have been suitable for the handicapped who are unable to survive on planets vetted for Planet First.
  • It's the Only Way to Be Sure: When they threatened to drive humans to extinction, Thetis was nuked from orbit to obliterate the chimera. The military is ready to do the same to Earth if it stops an alien invasion. To this day, all military vehicles, equipment and animal barriers still have chimera detectors. This turns out to be warranted in Earth Flight as the chimera turn out to be not extinct after all.
  • Lost Technology: Humanity has lost among other things: The ability to manufacture glowplas and scientific/mathematical proofs of laws of nature their current tech relies on
    • Every stasis box bears the hope of finding the lost plans/proofs/papers/blueprints on those. Food dispensers, hover luggage and, most importantly, impact suits only exist thanks to lost tech recovered from stasis boxes.
  • Matter Replicator: The food dispensers.
  • Military Brat: 90% of military recruits come from military families, making them the overwhelming majority in the force. Jarra pretends to be one to disguise her status as Handicapped, then discovers she actually is one when she requests information about her parents. Played with in that she never knew her parents and resented them for a long time for not staying with her on Earth. When she learns about her parentage, she acknowledges that her parents being Military meant that staying with her wasn't really an option for them. In book three Jarra is told by her brother Jaxon that he insisted on his parents not going to Earth to raise Jarra and that he feels guilty for it.
  • Military Science-Fiction: The series is an untypical case, and only starts focusing on the military [from the last third of book 1 on]. There is no galactic war and the military is at its core a peacekeeping force, akin to today's UN Blue Helmet troops. Also, the protagonist is not military. She fakes being military as part of her cover-story to get into the Asgard class only to later find out she was military-born all along and has famous heroes in her ancestry. In book 2, she and Fian actually join the military as research advisors, though not voluntarily. They are basically involuntarily drafted into it under their Alien Contact programme citizen's duty. In book 3, they become more than just research advisors. Jarra is given a gun to defend herself, they train in the flight simulator and at the end of the book fly as astronauts to Fortuna to lower the defences and kickstart the field of xenoarcheology. At the end though it is time for Jarra to lay down her uniform and focus again on what she always did best: being an archaeologist.
    • The military's main occupation is actually preparing suitable planets for settlement under the standardized 10-stage Planet First programme by exploring them and eliminating deathly live forms. This extremely hazardous, vital work is why they are so revered by most people. No planet has been settled so far without some military dying in the process.
      • Funnily, Earth itself would not pass Planet First criteria because (among multiple other reasons) of the frequent solar storms (which cause portal network outages). This ironically turns out to be a vital parameter of planets the handicapped can actually survive on in book three.
      • The military's other vital role is running the solar arrays providing Solar Power to the continents below transmitted down to relay stations via massive energy beams.
  • Mission Control: Dig Site Command in book one plus the military all three books, plus Drago/ at the betrothal in book three.
  • Mohs Scale of Science Fiction Hardness: One Big Lie: Portalling tech.
  • Mundane Utility: Using a stasis box to preserve freshly warm Cheese fluffle :D
  • Not So Different: For all her complaints about how norms (people from outside of Earth) are prejudiced against the Handicapped, Jarra initially has several prejudices of her own regarding the "exos" as she calls them, including her belief that they are all prejudiced against the handicapped. After a little time in the company of the exos, she realizes the error of this.
    • Petra, the open hater of the handicapped in Jarras class who bullies her in the second book, turns out to be disturbingly relatable as basically Jarra's Foil: Her mom left her and her dad to live with her handicapped child on Earth. In the sixth months she has been on the course, her mother never suggested to meet up nor visit her or invite her over. She fell for Fian as well, but lost to Jarra. Then she fell for Joth, but soon lost him (just like Jarra lost her parents shortly after contacting them). The more popular Jarra became, the less friends Petra had, and when she drops out of the course the former is left stunned: "It was easier when I didn't understand Petra, just hated her."
    • In Earth Flight, Beta sector and Earth are shown to be similarly shunned, misunderstood and looked down upon by the other sectors and each other, too. Jarra admits that at the beginning she was prejudiced against Beta sector in general, and skimpily clothed Lolmack and Lolia in particular, just as much as the norms.
  • No Transhumanism Allowed: The Protection of Humanity Laws forbid cloning, regrowing of significantly damaged brains in regrowth tanks and other transhuman/cyborg body alterations. Also, robots may not be sentient, self-upgrading, evolving or possess hand-like appendages usable as universal tools. Those can be overridden by the Alien Contact programme, and in the third book are overridden where they replace Jarra's immune system with full-body cybernetics to allow her to travel to other worlds, regrow Jarra's and Raven's brains and restore Jarra's memories from brain scans with illegal brain scan tech from Cioni's Apprentices
  • Parental Abandonment: The fate of most handicapped. Only very few parents are ready to sacrifice life off-Earth and move there to raise their kids. Most of them thus end up in the care of Hospital Earth, which gives them education and Homes with designated ProParents, as well as other kids to befriend and in a way become their sibling substitutes. This care is thankfully quite generous and humane compared to its usual portrayal as cruel and wanting.
    • Less known, but this is also the fate of norm kids where one parent goes to Earth to take care of their handicapped kid while the other stays back home with them. Petra's mom did exactly that and they refuse to even meet their other child who stayed back with the other parent.
  • Parental Substitute: The two ProParents each kid gets assigned on Earth serve as those for their whole life. They have special legal powers to inspect Homes or pretty much any facility of Hospital Earth (up to and including their board meeting!) if they suspect their children are being mistreated. Each ProParent cares for multiple kids though, sometimes leaving Jarra jealous of the other kids her ProMum cares for when she can't meet or call her and of all the exos for how much more time they ideally get to spend with their parents. Jarra has grown apart from her ProDad over the years, but inexplicably is unable to get Hospital Earth to assign her a better one. So they seem to be assigned for life, for better and worse.
  • Parents as People: Jarra's classmates have parents ranging from loving and decent (Dalmora's dad) via conspiritard (Krath's dad) to outright malicious, except if there is something in it for science (Fian's dad). Jarra's parents were both military and left her on Earth because her brother Jaxon threatened he'd kill himself were they to move to Earth. Also her dad was desperately needed as a Planet First replacement commander in Epsilon sector. When Jarra and Fian replay their call in the third book, Jarra has nothing but sympathy for their tough decisions.
  • Plot Hole: Discussed In-Universe by Jarra and Fian: They each show one another an episode their favourite TV shows and, upon having the respective premises explained to them, point out the flaws in the storyline. Jarra's favourite show, Defenders, is rife with inaccuracies about military life and Fian's favourite show, Stalea of the Jungle depends on military personnel having ignored basic procedures.
  • Portal Network: They are comparable to the portals of the Stargate Verse. The major difference is that they have Drop Portals, where you can bootstrap a new portal connection by portalling to a new place without having to get the receiving portal there conventionally. At the receiving end, a ephemeral dust ring forms from interstellar matter for a few seconds, allowing a drop ship to speed through which then assembles the permanent receiving portal. They are restricted to a maximum diameter of 4 meters. For far-distance cross-sector travel special costly block portals are used. Hours of waiting time are normal there because their scheduling is meant to squeeze as many travellers into one power-draining portal connection as possible.
    • By now, humanity relies so much on them that their spacecraft cannot launch into space or land from there, only portal from orbit to the planetary surface and vice versa. The only airplanes still used are survey planes for cartography and to look for people gone missing.
  • The Power of the Sun: Planetary solar power arrays collect vast amounts of solar power and beam them down to their planets in plasma beams that have to be shut down during solar storms because they can become humongous death rays when their orbit gets out of control.
  • Prime Directive: The military has so far come across two so called neo-intelligent (that is, primitive non-space-faring, but already tool using) alien species on new worlds. Those worlds go into quarantine (that is, are not tampered with by the military) to allow them to develop naturally and uninfluenced. In book 2, the military speculate the mysterious probe-sending aliens have this as well and the probe only activated once it got a signal from a auto-scanning sender put on Earth telling them the earthlings had developed sufficiently.
  • Propaganda: By the military's Psych Division In book 2 and 3 – of the benevolent kind. They build up Jarra as a hero figure to calm down the hysteria about the alien probe and before that kept it under wraps. They carefully influence the footage the media gets to make Jarra and everyone look busy, doing good and heroic. Ramped up in the third book with much bigger political stakes. Leveque carefully plays everyone, not just the media and the public, to boost Jarra's image and their odds at strengthening the handicapped's rights.
  • Sector of Hats: Because long-range communication was less reliable when humanity initially settled worlds and because the first worlds where often settled by people from certain regions of earth, the sectors and the planets within those have developed distinct culture, laws and sexual mores. Earth is for example known for the 3 Hs: Hospital Earth, History and Handicapped. Deltans are good at Science, Betans are promiscuous, etc. This is however frequently subverted by various characters.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: General Torrek. He listens to every suggestion and immediately implements the most reasonable ones, unless higher-ups or the military having to be politically neutral tie his hands.
  • Reality Ensues: Jarra's parents abandoned her because going to Earth would have been the end of their military career, them dying on Planet First was a risk they signed up for, Jarra gets bullied by some classmates for lying and being handicapped, Joth running into the danger zone and dying, Jarra got impact suit PTSD, the military initially only hired Jarra to serve as an propaganda Fake Ultimate Hero to net them an Engineered Public Confession by any bigot in their midst and calm down hysteria by building up her being a descendant of Tellon Blaze, the military have a propaganda department (Psych Division) that writes the scripts for any of Jarra's public appearances, the Isolationist Party is willing to kill Jarra to sabotage First Contact, every time Jarra gets hurt it just increases her support among the public.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Jarra punched her previous suitor and would rather forget that stupid tryst forever. Fian is not just good-looking, but also loyal, determined and supportive.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right: In Earth Flight the members of Earth Registry cancel all twoing contracts involving one or more exos made on Earth to show all the other worlds that the Handicapped have had just about enough with being seen as sub-human and the Exos pretty much running Earth as a colony without them having any say at all for centuries.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Some of the stasis boxes contain nuclear warhead, chemical or biological weapons, or even worse, highly classified things.
  • Sequel Escalation: In all the ways. Let us count them:
    • book one finds Jarra and Fian helping dig out a crashed military craft from under rubble and find a suitable place to evacuate people to, for which she earns the Artemis medal, the highest military honor usually only bestowed to soldiers who die to save others
    • in book two Jarra and Fian become famous for working on and succeeding in initiating first contact with the alien probe. They also get promoted to ridiculously high military ranks to provoke prejudiced fighter pilots into disqualifying themselves form service, thereby lowering the risk of trigger-happy soldiers stupidly declaring war on the aliens
    • in book three the two help decode the alien datastream, find the alien home planet and start working as xenoarcheologists at the end. Oh, and they also help to get Alpha sector to accept Earth as a member planet, Earth to get it's first democratically elected government in enturies, the handicapped to get other planets they can live on and Jarra becomes the first *sucessfully cybernetically altered Handicapped to travel interstellarly
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Rian Torrek on the Planet First calamity that killed both of his spouses: "I’d arrived in an emergency evacuation centre, been grabbed by a triage doctor, and then waved on to an officious medical team. It was two years before I forgave them for saving my life. It was three years before I was anything remotely like a functional human being. It was four years before I wore a Military uniform again."
    • Soon after calling her parents for the first time, they die in a Planet First calamity. Jarra is in denial and Becoming the Mask for a while because she does not want this to be true.
    • Jarra also got PTSD in book two from being crushed inside her impact suit. It takes all the love of Fian, her team, playdon, Romo, as well as the urgency of having to go to the alien capsule for her to get over it and even then, it comes back a bit in book three when she is very stressed.
    • As revealed in book three: Lecturer Playdon lost his wife on [SF earthquake spider leg city] site and had not been back there ever since
  • Single-Biome Planet: Only one continent per planet is settled because it is more easy to set up the Portal Network there that way (and also allows them to preserve predators on other continents while wiping them out on the inhabited one), so this might justifiably occur on some planets.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Rather idealistic portrayal of humanity: Very democratic and meritocratic, with plenty of room and resources and past waging wars with one another. Most people are good. But xenophobia, bigotry, narcissism, bullying and the occasional asshole still exist here and there.
  • Space Romans: The Betans wear togas and tunics and named their planets after pantheon gods. They had an Emperor proclaim secession from the rest of humanity as the Sec­ond Roman Empire and later a crazy wanna-be Emperor, brother of the actual ruler, pointed the orbital power array plasma beam at their capital planet Artemis, killing almost 50,000 people to force his brother to cede power to him. It ended with the military storming the array and Betan space returning under unified military control. Their nobility is called gentes mairores and they are socially organised into clans and alliances, like ancient Rome.
    • Ancient Grome: Their sector parliament is called the Parthenon, their capital planet Zeus and Playdon points out they just got Romans and Greeks mixed up a lot because of how long ago they lived.
  • Split Personality Takeover: Jarra's "JMK" personality isn't really a split personality, but the spirit of the trope is there after Jarra learns that her biological parents were killed in the line of duty. She loses herself in the JMK's life and even dismisses mail sent to "Jarra Reeath" (her actual name) as a "mailing error" and files a complaint about it.
  • Spoiled Sweet: Dalmora, daughter of a famous and wealthy Alpha sector history vid maker. Jarra hated her for [about half a day] until she couldn't help but give in to her genuine charm.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Discussed: This is how the media and Psych Division play up Jarra and Fian's relationship in the third book because of all the obstacles the Isolationalists throw into their way.
  • Subspace Ansible: Twinned two-way comms portals allow for near-instantaneous transmission of a news channel from one planet across all the sectors and for other communications like video-calls as well. So when Jarra video-calls all the way to Asgard in Gamma sector in the first book there is a delay of one whole second. That's less delay then you get when radioing the moon!
  • Time Stands Still: Inside the stasis boxes.
  • Title Drop: Earth Girl is what Fian calls Jarra after he finds out she is Handicapped at the end of the first book.
    • Earth Star is a new medal introduced at the end of the first book when Jarra and the others who helped dig out the military spaceships are awarded with it which is given to heroic civilians from Earth and also aptly describes the activated probe at the end of book two.
    • In the last book Earth Flight is the name of the historic first manned portal-enabled extrasolar space flight as well as the holiday commemorating it celebrated everywhere but Earth, for obvious reasons. It is also the name of Jarra's flight to Fortuna where the former is heavily referenced.
    • And the biggest of them all, title-dropping the Earth Girl series as a whole, is on the last pages of the last chapter of the last book: When Earth joins Alpha Sector Jarra symbolically accepts the torch of humanity from the [First] of Alpha Sector on behalf of Earth who says only she, the Earth Girl (the most famous and cross-sector beloved handicapped person) is the fitting recipient.
  • Terraform: Averted, because the military Planet First forces can cherry-pick suitable continents on suitable planets by deploying loads of unmanned drop portal survey ships.
  • Translation Convention: Humanity speeks one unified language, simply called Language, but the Future Slang used is still obviously derived from English. Must be a Woolseyism, as in book 2 most archaeologists don't comprehend Earth English at all.
  • Utopia: Earth is an interesting case: The handicapped are forever stranded on Earth, which is seen as backwater, with them seen as sub-human. But all handicapped get free foster/health care and education (including University) plus an unconditional basic income for life, while other planets in e.g. Beta sector have far less social welfare. But they don't get to vote: Earth has no parliament and is governed by a Board of Directors consisting entirely of off-worlders appointed by Alpha Sector Parliament, which they can't vote for either because Earth is not even a member planet of the sector first colonised from it.
    • Humanity as a whole seems pretty democratic, quite well fed and cared for, and the archeology dig sites as well as the military come across as refreshingly meritocratic.
  • We Will Use Manual Labor in the Future: Due to the protection of humanity laws, only very dumb robots unable to learn, self improve and talk are allowed (like the [cleaning bots] and hover luggage). Machinery is used for heavy duty labour, but it pretty much all needs to be operated by humans. In Epsilon sector, most settlers are men because they have to bring up the walls of all the infrastructure, housing, farms and schools at the same time, and there is just not enough machinery for this spike of construction activity locally, while portalling it in from another sector is more cost-prohibitive than relying heavily on manpower in the inital colonisation stage.
  • The World Is Just Awesome: In the original Earth Flight (the first mission into another solar system via drop portal) the astronaut is overwhelmed with awe when seeing the first extrasolar planet. Fittingly, the planet is then named Adonis.
    • The sunrise watched from The Roof of The World (an observation deck carved into Mount Everest close to its peak) has that effect on people. As Planet First does not allow for such high mountains, it is the most stunningly beautiful view of all the mountain observation decks in existence.

Alternative Title(s):

Earth Star, Earth Flight