In 2096, after Earth has successfully established a colony of people living on Mars, a war of independence erupts and Mars breaks away from Earth’s rule. Over the next century, two radically different societies develop and the planets regard one another with mutual suspicion. For years, the only thread connecting them is the trajectory of the cargo ship Maearrth (literally a combination of the worth ‘Mars’ and ‘Earth’). Eventually, in an attempt to initiate a reconciliation, Mars sends a group of young delegates to spend five years on Earth.
The novel opens in 2196, as the ship is bringing the delegates home to Mars, along with a group of representatives from Earth. The protagonist, Luoying, is an eighteen-year-old dance student who also happens to be the granddaughter of the governor of Mars. Stray Skies follows Luoying and her friends as they struggle to reacclimatise to Martian society, while also attempting to uncover the secrets of the past: what caused the mysterious deaths of her parents, and why was she sent to Earth? Underpinning the plot is the continual threat of interplanetary war, and domestic conflict over the future of Mars.