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A Nourishing Thing

You Sexy Thing  (Disco Space Opera, volume 1)

By Cat Rambo 

23 May, 2024

Space Opera That Doesn't Suck


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2021’s You Sexy Thing is the first volume in Cat Rambo’s Disco Space Opera Series.

Having deployed a regulatory loophole to exit her service to the Holy Hive Mind, Captain Nicolette Niko” Larsen invested her back wages in the TwiceFar Station’s Last Chance restaurant. Aided by those of her subordinates fortunate enough to have survived certain events prior to the novel, Niko has enough funds to keep the Last Chance running for about three months1. If the restaurant cannot be made profitable in that time, the crew will get to explore the exciting world of insolvency.

Salvation appears in the form of food critic Lolola Montaigne d’Arcy deBurgh.

If Last Chance can impress Lolola, the critic might bestow on the restaurant the coveted Nikkelin Orb, essentially a space Michelin Star. Popularity and wealth would certainly follow.

Gourmand oligarch Arpat Takraven sweetens the deal. Determined to watch Lolola eat, Arpat attempts to bribe Niko for a table within eyeshot of the famed critic. Niko names an absurdly high price. Arpat meets it.

The meal goes perfectly, save for the Arranti monster attack that leaves much of TwiceFar Station in shambles. Niko and her subordinates escape successfully, taking Lolola, misplaced space princess Atlanta2, and a badly injured and dying Arpat with them. The group flees to Arpat’s starship You Sexy Thing, although not in time to save Arpat from his injuries.

Death is but a passing inconvenience for the rich. Somewhere a clone will be decanted with Arpat’s memories. Perhaps knowledge of functional immortality provided the previous Arpat iteration with the presence of mind to play a small jape on Niko and her friends. Arpat provided Niko with a passcode to enter his ship. However, that code signifies that the people using it are hijackers that You Sexy Thing should convey to the nearest prison world. Although intelligent, You Sexy Thing is bound by its programming and complies.

Exactly how this little jest would have played out in a universe woefully short on due process will never be known. In short order it becomes clear that Lolola” is not Lolola at all, but a space pirate who stole Lolola’s identity. The sham Lolola takes control of certain vital systems and hijacks the ship.

The sham Lolola has little use for the other passengers and attempts to kill them all. You Sexy Thing retains enough autonomy to resist this order. However, survival has a major drawback. The pirate stronghold at which You Sexy Thing and the people on board find themselves is none other than the lair of the notorious Tubal Last. Tubal Last has a long-standing grudge against Niko. If Niko and her friends do not now face a fate worse than death, it will not be for lack of trying on Tubal Last’s part.


People who don’t care for torture, dismemberment, and ugly death scenes probably want to avoid this volume.

You Sexy Thing’ refers to the spaceship. You Sexy Thing’ also refers to the novel. Yay for English’s italicization rules.

Strictly speaking, the Arranti aren’t space monsters, merely a vastly powerful elder civilization that likes to play incredibly destructive games with the homes and peoples of lesser civilizations. They will serve as space monsters until real space monsters show up.

As one might guess from the lack of due process reference above, this is a setting notably short on governments under which one might want to live. The least bad choice available involves rule by competing oligarchs, people who generally don’t notice the little people enough to want to deliberately upend their lives. Then there are the space monarchs, like the one to whom Atlanta is heir, who claim to pursue the greater good but treat those below them as expendable. Below that, actively malevolent oligarchs like the pirate lord Tubal Last, who measures wealth by how much misery they can inflict on those around them. Finally, there’s the Holy Hive Mind, who may very well reward extraordinary service by eating the servant’s brains. It may be that SF authors can imagine better governments than the ones we have, but this novel is not proof of that.

While living under this assortment of governments presents obvious drawbacks for the people living under them, the assortment is an enormous asset to authors writing thrilling adventures. By the time we meet Niko, she has vexed both the Holy Hive Mind and Tubal Last. She has attracted the attention of would-be rebels as a potential leader. She manages to intrigue Arpat. Thus, even if running a restaurant in a universe where at any moment a ravening space monster might dismantle one’s space station for the lulz wasn’t challenge enough, Niko is certain to encounter life-threatening complications when various subplots return to haunt her.

You Sexy Thing is a busy novel. Rambo has to convey considerable backstory while laying the foundation for subsequent volumes. Rambo also must titillate readers with thrilling space adventures. For this reason, while the restaurant elements are vital to the plot, those elements do not play as prominent a role as one might expect from a novel pitched as Farscape meets The Great British Bake Off3.

Despite all the references to backstory, this volume does manage to stand on its own as a complete space opera. It’s a model that other writers would do well to emulate.

You Sexy Thing is available here (Amazon US), here (Amazon Canada), here (Amazon UK), here (Apple Books), here (Barnes & Noble), here (Chapters-Indigo), and here (Words Worth Books).

1: Three months is a free translation of the novel’s a little under a hundred sleep units.”

2: Misplaced space princess Atlanta was delivered to the restaurant in a sealed container, a plot detail that is way too complicated to explain here.

3: Presumably the reference in the book blurb is to the television series that aired on BBC Two and BBC One, and not to the later continuation of the series elsewhere about which we do not speak. Have no fear that anything analogous to the Mexican Week incident will appear in later books in this series.

If you don’t understand the reference, cherish your ignorance.