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Review by K.J. VanHouten.

About Constellation XXI by Edward Hoornaert

Rediscovering love at the worst possible time

Although Sienna Dukelsky had been the most promising student pilot at Keening AstroSpace Academy, she inexplicably settles for a routine, unglamorous job guiding incoming spaceships to safe berths at Farflung Space Station. Rumors, never verified, blamed her surprising decision on a boyfriend who got expelled from Keening.

Crispin Hunt, fleeing enemy forces, is greeted by a tugship captained by Sienna, his former girlfriend. Love rekindles—until an old betrayal boils up. Her ship loses power while aimed dead on at the space station, forcing Sienna to confront the terrifying truth about Crispin and his cargo…and her routine job suddenly becomes the most important in the entire galaxy.


Review of Constellation XXI

First, I must apologize for this review being so long in coming! That was no reflection on the author. OK, actually, maybe it is. I first started reading Constellation XXI and got distracted by names that were familiar – that’s when I realized this is book 3 of the Repelling the Invasion series. That reminded me that the first book in the series, The Guardian Angel of Farflung Station, is one of my favourite SFR stories! Which meant I was then so eager to reread it that I couldn’t get into the new story until I did. Which also meant that I then went on to read book 2, Escapee, which was another great story. So I FINALLY came back to Constellation XXI when I found my way out of that rabbit-hole. (Which was a fun and much recommended rabbit-hole to fall into to be sure!)

Constellation XXI returns us to the Dukelsky family – this time with Sienna, cousin to Duke, whom we met in book 1. Sienna is eager to prove herself, having recently completed a academy training and tugship apprenticeship. She finally gets a chance for a solo captaincy – even if she is the only crew on a new Thought Ship, which operates in response to brainwaves rather than manual controls. Her assignment is to monitor the emptiest section of space around Farflung Station, an important responsibility to monitor for errant ships and keep collisions from affecting the station by docking incoming ships with the station properly. Not to mention monitoring for any incoming ships from Proxima, home to a cruel race of people at war with the rest of the galaxy.

If only she could stop falling into daydreams about Crispin Hunt, a former lover that she hasn’t seen in years, but suddenly comes into renewed contact with. Literally, it turns out as he appears at the helm of a freighter coming in from the Black, as the sparsely populated borderlands area was known. Crispin is captain of the Constellation XXI, coming in with a cargo of exotic animals for sale. Sienna isn’t sure if she wants to welcome him or blast him from space. The only thing she is sure of is that she doesn’t really want him in her life right now, and she’s pretty sure that feeling is mutual.

The story sounds simple and harmless enough – meeting up with an old lover, rekindle an old attraction that never quite went away, and a coming-into-her-own story of a rookie making a place for herself in a competitive job environment. Simple enough that is until you throw in a group of marines eager for a fight and with no respect for a rookie tugship captain, old misunderstandings and misdeeds, and ultimately, a ship-wide power loss that puts two ships on a deadly collision course with Farflung Station itself. And somehow, it’s tied to the mysterious cargo that Crispin is bringing in from beyond the border planets – and which he isn’t being entirely truthful about. Secrets that threaten far more than just a collision with the station, but rather a collision with perceptions that may change the way of life and war for the galaxy.

Yes, Constellation XXI works perfectly fine as a standalone read, but I recommend reading any series in order. There always seems to be background data flotsam that makes the environment of the story richer and ties characters into a larger universe. As I said before, this series is a fun one to fall into. Ed Hooenart has a talent for bringing out the humour and humanity of his characters. Repelling the Invasion is probably my favourite of his series, and Constellation XXI just proves that his stories just keep getting better. Highly recommend reading this one!

Disclaimer: An ebook of Constellation XXI was provided in exchange for an honest review.



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