A fun sci-fi adventure with a large cast full of distinct and interesting characters with a ship that steals the show. Many thanks to Brianna at Wunderkind PR for an eARC All opinions are my own.
SUMMARY: TwiceFar station is at the edge of the known universe, and that’s just how Niko Larson, former Admiral in the Grand Military of the Hive Mind, likes it.
Retired and finally free of the continual war of conquest, Niko and the remnants of her former unit are content to spend the rest of their days working at the restaurant they built together, The Last Chance.
But, some wars can’t ever be escaped, and unlike the Hive Mind, some enemies aren’t content to let old soldiers go. Niko and her crew are forced onto a sentient ship convinced that it is being stolen and must survive the machinations of a sadistic pirate king if they even hope to keep the dream of The Last Chance alive.
OPINION: I picked this up as I’ve previously enjoyed Cat Rambo’s short fiction – in particular Red in Tooth and Claw as well as Every Breath A Question, Every Heartbeat an Answer and I was curious what a longer story from them would look like. They’re particularly good at looking at what comes after being a solider and in this respect You Sexy Thing is no different. But this makes it sound heavier than it is. The most straightforward comparison is A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, in that both books have a crew that is very close with a new member who is put among them and becomes one of them. But that does both books a disservice. You Sexy Thing has a much more cohesive story although this doesn’t stop the action shifting from various ships and planets.
While there is a large cast of characters each of them is distinct and memorable – from Dabry, Niko’s second in command who’s also the head chef and passionate about his herbs and spices, to Skidoo, who is Octopi shaped but formed of two symbiotic beings and is unembarrassed about seeking their pleasures where they can. Atlanta, the outsider to the crew is both naive but capable in her own way and her development over the story, in particular the ending is both satisfying and adds to the comfort factor of the book. Finally, the star of the book is the ship You Sexy Thing. A sentient bio-ship, they have gone through a succession of owners who have barely stretched their potential and Niko’s crew give them plenty of opportunities to experience new emotions such as pride, petulance, novelty, a sense of learning and a range of others. Rambo’s description of these is perfect and very much endears you to You Sexy Thing as they’re very much their own character in a way that’s different to other ship’s AI. It doesn’t feel like a human voice, but is a person in their own right.
Overall the plot shifts between Niko’s past and the crew’s present with several flashbacks from different characters. While the short works well as a standalone, there are plenty of hints at a wider story, both with a sinister threat, and the mystic Lassite’s constant mutterings about the importance of Niko to the Golden Spiral and following the path. All in all it was an enjoyable sci-fi adventure, and I would look forward to seeing what’s in store for Niko and the others.