Tropical Punch (Bubbles in Space #1) by S.C. Jensen Book Review

Write on: Thu, 05 Aug 2021 by  in Charles' New Reviews Read 1536


BUBBLES IN SPACE: TROPICAL PUNCH is a discovery for a jaded cyberpunk fan like myself. It is a surprisingly lighthearted story despite the noir elements it posses as well as its techno-dystopian setting that manages to absolutely bleed neon from every pore. It is also a book that I not only finished in a single day but proceeded to immediately buy the rest of the series of when I finished it. Bubbles is a fantastic heroine and its a ridiculous but well-developed mystery that she's found herself investigating.

The premise is that Bubbles Marlowe is a cybernetic armed ex-cop and recovering alcoholic who screws up a mission to contact a young woman. Said woman is killed before Bubbles has the chance to make contact, only for an identical one to show up seconds later and get killed herself. This is just the start of her very bad day as she finds herself also hunted by her old boss. Thankfully, she wins a lottery ticket that promises her the space luxury cruise of a lifetime. It's just she didn't enter the contest in the first place.

Bubbles is a fantastic character that fills the role of a 1930s film noir private eye while also being a pink-haired sarcastic screwup that is just trying to keep her head above water. Given the water in the future is radioactive, this is probably futile. The world is incredibly dark but she handles it with a can do attitude and perserverance that makes her a deeply enjoyable heroine.Bubbles doesn't want to save the world or even her client. She just wants to avoid being murdered and actively resents the conspiracies she's repeatedly drawn into. I think she has more in common with the Dude in adaptations of The Big Sleep than her surname-sake.

The absurd idea of placing a noir and cyberpunk dystopian heroine on a cruise ship is a hilarious juxtaposition. Bubbles is surrounded by the ultra-rich and decadent of the future while having not a credit to spare. What she wants more than anything is to hit the buffet but soon finds herself in the machinations of a sinister cult, a drug deal gone wrong, and a science experiment that potentially could help humankind evolve into gods.

I have to say my favorite character, after Bubbles herself, is her A.I. pig companion. Choosing to go by the pun-laden title of Hammett after Dashielle Hammet, he provides the majority of common sense as well as hacking support to our heroine. The character is just adorable and I hope to read more about them. About the only thing they could have done that was more on the nose would make him an electric sheep.

The antagonists in the book are an interesting mix with Chief Swain being a hate sink of corruption and police brutality that already ruined Bubbles life once before. The Last Humanist Church doesn't initially appear to be bad but it's pretty hard to be sympathetic to an organization that considers Bubbles to be an abomination just for having a prothstetic arm. Other characters are good or bad depending on whether their agendas conflict with Bubbles' at the time. Specifically, her survival.

This is a flat out great book and I strongly recommend people pick it up. It has the cool quality of using variants of 1920s and 1940s slang to help make the language appear different from typical speech of the 21st century. It works surprisingly well and lends a sense of otherness that would otherwise be lacking if they didn't have their own unique oddball phrases. Mind you, hearing "skirt" used unironically as a bit bizarre. The book is available on Kindle Unlimited and is definitely worth a read.

Available here

Last modified on Tuesday, 01 March 2022 21:15
C.T. Phipps

C.T Phipps is a lifelong student of horror, science fiction, and fantasy. An avid tabletop gamer, he discovered this passion led him to write and turned him into a lifelong geek. He is a regular blogger on "The United Federation of Charles".

He's written Agent G, Cthulhu Armageddon, Lucifer's Star, and The Supervillainy Saga.