It's hard to know how to review Frontera, as a debut novel? It is Lewis Shiner's debut novel it was originally published in 1984, but is part of the definitive editions Subterranean Press is publishing of Shiner's work. So, do I take into account Shiner's later work to give the novel context? Or should I review it as any literary debut?
Lewis Shiner is categorized with cyberpunk writers like William Gibson. I really don't see it, Frontera and the other science fiction that Shiner has written seems like hard sci-fi more in the mold of Heinlein. Shiner is of the generation of writers that came to the forefront in the early 80's, that may account for the categorization. Whatever label you want to slap on Shiner's work what you're getting is good solid writing.
The world of Frontera could be tomorrow. All the world's governments have collapsed leaving the corporations to take over. Frontera is a colony on Mars that is assumed lost by those on Earth until Pulsystems, which is the corporation that has taken over the U.S., starts receiving mysterious messages from Mars about a machine with quantum possibilities. A slap-dash reconnaissance mission is thrown together to see if the colony has somehow managed to survive. The mission is led by Reese, an aging astronaut who was the first person on Mars and his only other option in life is drinking himself to death. Kane is a Pulsystems VP and former soldier sent with a mission that is obscure even to himself and pushes him to the edge of insanity. When the mission discovers the Frontera colony alive, if not totally well, they discover there is a secret on Mars that the colonists aren't willing to share.
If you've already read Shiner's later more mature writing you'll see Frontera as a starting point. You can see some of the theme's Shiner will later adopt and adapt more fully in later works, such as contentious relationships between fathers and sons. In Frontera's case, between surrogate father figure and son relationships. Older readers of Shiner's will be able to create the context it belongs in and the evolution of Shiner as a writer. If you're new to Shiner's work, it's the natural starting point and a literary debut that will lead you to the next book and the next.
Another of Shiner's novels Glimpses is also available in a definitive edition. Collected Stories is a good overview of Shiner's work.