Liaden Universe Constellation Vol. 3
by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller
Cover Artist: Stephen Hickman
Review by Gayle Surrette
Baen Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781476780689
Date: 04 August 2015 List Price $16.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK
I've been a fan of the Liaden series since I first stumbled across a copy of Carpe Diem mumble mumble years ago. Since then I've managed to fill in the novels and they sit on my comfort reading shelf for times when I want to revisit the universe. On the other hand, even with extra effort at conventions I've never been sure that I could gather all the various short stories that Sharon Lee and Steve Miller have written. While I have a goodly number of stories in chapbook form -- I'm finding that these new collections have managed to fill in many of the gaps. In fact, Constellation 3 had a number of short stories I'd never read before I received this book.
Code of Honor -- Tommy Lee is called back to Liad by his delm. That negates his contract with the mercenary troop he was with, plus the added rule that he can't rejoin when his clan is done with him. What his delm wants with him and how he handles the issue makes this story very relevant to the title.
Guaranteed Delivery -- Aelliana and Dav have been hired to deliver a package. But the job is not as straight-forward as either the main characters or the reader might expect. Really well set up with a surprising ending.
Intelligent Design -- This was one of my favorite stories. I've always wondered how Clan Korval ending up with Jeeves working for them. Jeeves is more than a simple AI, but one with a personality that shines through in the stories where he's mentioned. This is the story of how he came to be found by Dav and Er Thom.
Out of True -- A family ship has been pared down to the point where the crew lacks the full knowledge of how to run things. They must learn to work together and make decisions as a team, and to be true to their honor in their dealings. This is the job that tests them and their relationships.
Roving Gambler -- In the last few novels the next generation of Korval is moving up to take active parts in the stories, especially since Plan B. Pat in's son, Quinn, has been trying to fit into his new life on Surebleak as his father's heir. After the responsibility he had when the children where in seclusion, being once again 'a child' is a bit difficult for him. In this story, he must come to understand his new responsibilities and how he fits into the clan's life of Surebleak. He also meets Villy for the first time.
King of the Cats -- I'd read this one a while back but it still held up on re-reading. Val Con is pulled away from Miri by a wizard in another universe who has need of his skills. It seems some cats have been kidnapped -- or is that catnapped? A well told tale of misunderstandings, adventure, and rescue.
Kin Ties -- I've often wondered what happened after Shane found and rescued Ren Zel. Now, Ren Zel and Anthora are reaching out to Korval's trading partners to re-establish ties. On one stop they return to Ren Zel's home planet because Anthora believes there is some unfinished business.
Eleutherios -- The Kompani are relatively new to the Liaden cast of characters. Here we have a story of a group of Kompani on another world that seems to be post-apocalyptic. One act of kindness yields many benefits that help more than a few. Sometimes the unexpected is just what is needed.
The Rifle's First Wife -- Miri and Val Con have managed to pick up three Yxtrang, who now serve Korval. Diglon Rifle has been having more problems fitting in than the two Explorers. On Surebleak, he's managed to make some friends and enjoys his assigned tasks, especially working with the botanist in the gardens under the Tree. This is his story and adds more to his history and current arrangements.
The Space at Tinsori Light -- There was a mention of Tinosi Light in one of the chapter heading quotes from Korval's Diaries. Here we get the real story of what happened to Jen Sin yos'Phelium at Tinsoi Light with its Keeper.
Landed Alien -- Theo Waitely's friend, Kara ven'Arith, stayed behind to gain her pilot's license and graduate from the academy. This is Kara's story of what happened to her between the time Theo left and she entered the books again in Dragon Ship.
Moon's Honor -- This is another Moonhawk and Lute story. The personalities of these two characters show through as their two story lines converge. Again, the authors surprised me -- in a good way with the ending -- making this a fine ending to the volume.
Not a clunker in the lot. Well worth reading to catch up on some of the background characters or to get some insight into some of the main characters from the novels.