Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Space is not always filled with adventures and glory. Not everybody goes racing off to battle evil and save the galaxy. Between the rebels, pirates, royals, and spies are the everyday people who work hard just to get by and ensure everyone gets home safe. Less Than Three Press presents a collection of tales about the ordinary folks who keep the stars running.
The Prince and the Programmer by Cassandra Pierce
The Aurora Conspiracy by Lexi Ander
About a Bot by Andrea Speed
Flight Risk by Talya Andor
Survival by Leona Carver
Take romance, throw it out into space and then gather together some wonderful authors to write their take on this fabulous trope and what do you have? Keeping The Stars Running Anthology! And each story couldn’t be more different from each other. Here they are with my comments and rating in the order they appear in the anthology:
The Prince and the Programmer by Cassandra Pierce. 3.5 stars
Probably the closest story here to a familiar romance plot. Food service mech/chef? is abducted but soon finds his new situation and “Prince” much more to his liking than his old one. I thought the characters were charming and the situation sort of funny. It was a sweet if not totally memorable way to open the anthology.
About a Bot by Andrea Speed. 4 stars out of 5
I loved/was frustrated by this terrific story by Andrea Speed. Speed creates this complex universe, complete with on going intergalactic war, one in which the humans aren’t doing terribly well. The main character, Tahir, is the Nebula space station’s mechanic who keeps all their robots in working order. He also rescues and repairs older bots, giving them names and making them his “pets” with personalities. In fact, Tahir is far more comfortable with his bots then with the rest of the crew on his station. I loved this character. He’s believable, fascinating, and when it comes to his interactions with his bots then Tahir becomes irresistible. As are his bots, including Spider and the adorable Bagel bot and Tank.
I loved this story so much that the ending, or perhaps lack of one frustrated me with its tantalizing possibilities. How I would love to see this made into a full length novel. Anyone listening?
The Aurora Conspiracy by Lexi Ander. 4 stars out of 5
In the Aurora Conspiracy, Lexi Ander’s takes ecological concerns and mining into space with no less than 2 completely different species and a conspiracy to boot. Regin Valenta, crane operator for the Aurora Minerals and Rare Metals concern is being interrogated by constables from The Fraternity, a galactic law enforcement agency. One of them, a Nythlithian, Constable Markari Gan’Sey, shares a painful past with Regin, although only one remembers. The story becomes a dance between the main characters, as their past returns with its angst-filled memories and their attraction to each other flares back to life amidst an investigation into illegal mining practices on the planet below. It’s suspenseful, layered, and marvelous.
Flight Risk by Tayla Andor 5 stars out of 5
One of my favorite stories in the anthology. Again, we have an interplanetary war in progress and an embattled Kiel Navarro’s work as a mechanic in the Gear hangar, keeping the Gryphon wings in perfect operating order for their pilots. Andor’s world building is amazing and the author’s attention to detail bring this story and crews to life. Even the smallest touches, such as Kiel being half deaf where as most of the other pilots are deaf because of the noise of the engines and conditions they work in, give the readers a authentic feel for the environment and safety factors of the job Kiel does and the hangers in which he and his coworkers make their living. And it’s not a very nice one.
The mechanics are being harassed, treated as lowly servants, who hide in their quarters for fear of retaliation. And its by whom that is so startling. A new Gryphon pilot, Marco Lafaele, a replacement for a recent death in the squad Wing Bravo, shakes up the status quo by showing an interest in Kiel, something that is just not done). His actions and determination not to follow along with his fellow pilots starts to put cracks in the SOP in the Hangers. And ripples from the fallout spread throughout Cadlow Station. I loved that Andors created the mechanic equipment down to the MagLens Kiel is using to augment his failing vision to the derogatory nicknames they earn him.
There is mystery, romance, gritty war time battles, and finally a white knuckle ride to the rescue. Just an outstanding story on every level.
Survival by Leona Carver. 3.5 t0 4.5 rating, really this story confounds me.
Not a romance. I love Leona Carver so many aspects of this story didn’t surprise me while others absolutely did. Just when I thought I knew where the author was taking this story, it took off in an unexpected direction. And ending. We start off on the Velikaya Knyazhna, a giant colonist ship on its new to a new planet. Most of its crew is “sleeping” in order to make it to their destination without aging too much. But an emergency sees the “ship” and its caretakers waking up some of the scientists to examine the cause of the emergency and fix it…before its too late.
Valentin Mashire, was trained to work on the planet, frozen on Earth and then shipped up to the “orbiting giant” in a crates, along with many others. He’s a botanical scientist, a park technician trained to work in the terrestial parkland on board that’s necessary to terraform the new planet they will land on. The length of the voyage? 100 years. Plenty of time for things to go wrong and they do. And that’s where ship’s Security officer, Fyodor Bendlin comes in.
I can’t go any further. To do so, takes away the best of the surprises found within this story. I loved the descriptions of the park inside the ship and the ship itself. But the romance I wanted to happen was never going to be part of this story. No, this is all about Survival. But it’s the “who” that is trying to survive that will shock you as will the ending. Did I like this story? Not really. But did it fascinate me with its mythology and universe building? Yes. And it floored me with the surprising revelations and erotica.
What a great anthology. I don’t know that I would have ended it with Survival. I think that Flight Risk would have grounded this anthology better with its more substantial ending. However, there is such variety, a true smorgasbord of stories, that everyone will find something to love.
I recommend this series to all lovers of science fiction, romance and the possibilities of tomorrow.
Cover art by Aisha Akeju. Love this cover artist and this cover is another splendid example of their work. Great job.
ebook, also available in print
Published May 13th 2015 by Less Than Three Press (first published 2014)
original titleKeep the Stars Running