Review of Local Star by Aimee Ogden
This was a fun and quick read. The plot is pretty basic. On a three-day leave after a huge victory in the war against the Cyberbionautic Alliance, Casne is planning to celebrate with her best friend and partner Triz. Yet, instead of being honoured as the hero she is, Casne is accused of war crimes, with evidence Triz and Kalo – another Fleet pilot, Triz’s ex and Casne’s sometimes – are convinced is fake.
Even though Local Star is a novella, the worldbuilding is rather extensive and it only took a couple of sentences for me to feel transported to a different universe. The story is centred around Triz, a guttergirl turned mechanic who is still not sure she really fits in her own life, with Casne and Kalo never too far.
Triz has been asked to join Casne and her wife Nantha’s marriage and while she loves them both, she’s not ready to make it official. Her reluctance results from her insecurities but mainly from not wanting to be the third in a triad: she’d rather join with another partner. Whether Kalo will be the one or not remains to be seen, but he’s clearly interested in giving their relationship a second chance.
Around them are a couple more Fleet officers as well as Casne’s quadparents (some male, some female, some non-binary), one of whom is a bit quick to believe his daughter could be guilty.
Besides the world-building, the best part of this story is how normal and self-evident polyamory is. Triz’s interrogations are valid, especially given her background. She struggles with what her place would be in a marriage to Casne and Nan just as much as she struggles with her place in Casne’s family, who more or less took her in when she was rescued from an impossibly rough childhood. The only time she’s really comfortable is when she’s working on a ship.
As usual, I focus on the characters and their motivations, as much as I can without spoiling, but there are many other layers to this story. The Cyberbionautic Alliance, for example, questions transhumanism. Triz’s insecurities and her relationships with Kalo and Casne speak of self-acceptance, growth and forgiveness. This novella is a lot more complex than what the cover and the plot hint at. Complex but fun.