by Aimee Ogden
Publisher: Interstellar Flight Press
Publication Date: April 5, 2021
Genres: Romance, Science Fiction
I received an advance review copy of this book from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.My rating:
Local Star is a polyamorous space opera with a fast-paced, action-packed adventure that’s sure to punch you in the feels. It follows guttergirl Triz as she saves her hub from invaders from the Cyberbionautic Alliance, all the while negotiating her rekindled romance with Kalo, her ex who's returned from battle and won't stop hanging around the wrenchworks.
As with most of my book choices lately, I picked this up solely based on the cover. It’s an enjoyable and quickly-paced scifi romance novella.
After a decisive win against the Cyberbionautic Alliance, Triz is excited to go party with her newly-returned-from-the-war partner Casne – after she finishes up taking a look at her fighter pilot ex’s seriously smashed up ship. It doesn’t help that Kalo seems more interested in hanging around chatting with her than joining the party. But when Casne is arrested for treason, Triz must work with Kalo to figure out who framed her – and stop them from taking over the hab.
“Some people were suns, some were moons, and some were just rocks who soaked up others’ light and warmth. Triz was not a sun.”
The novella is told solely from Triz’s point of view, and a lot of it revolves around Triz feeling unworthy. She grew up in the bowels of a hab, scrounging for food scraps and bits of discarded trash to sell. She’s made a place for herself as a mechanic, and while most of Casne’s family has accepted her, she still feels separate and struggles with her self-worth. While Casne and her wife have invited her to join their gon (what the book calls their poly relationships), Triz struggles with worrying about how she’ll fit in, and she’s reluctant to join without bringing someone else to the triad. Polyamory is completely accepted in their society, and Casne herself comes from a quad poly family. Casne actually introduced Kalo, a fighter pilot, to Triz – and is still sometimes involved with him – but Triz couldn’t deal with how dangerous his job is. Her feelings for him are complicated and all tied up with feeling like she doesn’t truly belong, especially since she’s not part of the Fleet.
For such a small novella, there’s a lot going on plotwise. There’s Triz’s understandable feelings of inadequacy, exacerbated by one of Casne’s quadparents, who seems perfectly willing to believe Casne is a traitor. Plus, there’s the romance angle with navigating her feelings for Casne and Kalo. The part I didn’t think worked was a minor thread where Triz is extremely prejudiced against any type of body mods, basically assuming anyone with mods would support the (unmitigatedly awful) Cyberbionautic Alliance. I didn’t quite understand where those feelings came from or why she felt so strongly about it, though I felt her change of view was handled well. I also wish there had been more time to explore the dynamics of Triz and Kalo and then Triz, Kalo and Casne as a triad. I did love the whole clear-Casne’s-name plot, though, and the pacing was nice and snappy. It made it very easy to read this in one sitting (and then wish there was more!).
Overall, this is an action-packed read, and I really hope the author choses to revisit this setting in the future!