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Tropical Punch (Bubbles in Space Book 1) Kindle Edition
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Strippers, drugs, and headless corpses? All in a day’s work for Bubbles Marlowe, HoloCity’s only cyborg detective.
Does she like her job? No. Is she good at it? Also no.
She can’t afford to be too good. The last time she got curious it cost her a job, a limb, and almost her life.
But when a seemingly simple case takes a gruesome turn, and Bubbles discovers a disturbing connection to the cold-case death of an old friend, she is driven to dig deeper.
Until what she uncovers can never be buried again…
Blade Runner meets The Fifth Element in this eccentric cyber-noir thriller series about a bleak world ravaged by corrupt leaders, mega-corporations, and crime lords… and the washed-up detective who might be the only one crazy enough to take them on.
Bubbles in Space is a darkly funny mashup series for fans of space opera, cyberpunk, and hard-boiled noir thrillers. Delve into the secrets of this gritty future world, and buckle up for an adventure full of unusual characters, dark humour, and non-stop action.
About the Author
- ASIN : B08WRD2LTY
- Publisher : Northern Edge Publishing (March 29, 2021)
- Publication date : March 29, 2021
- Language : English
- File size : 2265 KB
- Simultaneous device usage : Unlimited
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Sticky notes : On Kindle Scribe
- Print length : 302 pages
- Page numbers source ISBN : 1990306004
- Best Sellers Rank: #514,377 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- #945 in Technothrillers (Kindle Store)
- #1,331 in Cyberpunk Science Fiction (Kindle Store)
- #2,084 in Cyberpunk Science Fiction (Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Reviewed in the United States on March 30, 2021
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Top reviews from the United States
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Tropical Punch by S.C. Jensen is so far up my alley it's not even funny. Jensen's prose paints a dirty, industrialized far future world that feels like it would be perfectly brought to life as a nightmarish mish-mash of Norman Rockwell paintings, Art Deco, 1920s fashion, and grimy, bright neon pastels. Now, the world I pictured in my mind might be different from how you imagine it, but the world Jensen painted for my imagination was unlike any else in the genre. Often, the immediate criticism some modern cyberpunk books that feature a nice, greasy coating of noir flavoring is that they're carbon copies of Blade Runner or Neuromancer. And I can tell you that while Tropical Punch is definitely inspired by 80s cyberpunk, that's the key word here, INSPIRED. It is 100% it's own unique thing. There is a smattering of influences here, as well, including Dick Tracey and The Fifth Element (really I got major Mobius vibes from this whole affair, and I'm here for it).
The characters are vibrant and fun! I absolutely love "Bubbles" Marlowe. She's witty, resourceful, a recovering alcoholic ex-cop who suffered a major mishap on the job that resulted in the loss of one of her arms and some damn near fatal wounds. She wouldn't be alive if it weren't for the cybernetics holding in the contents of her gut, and whenever her cybernetic arm is missing, you really get the sense that she feels naked without it. She's a flawed, yet endearing female protagonist that I could not help but root for. However, her relationship with her smart pet, Hammett, a smart pet that projects a cartoon pig skin around its spherical metallic body, is one of the most endearing relationships in the book. I'm not at all big into AI, but I want a Hammett of my own. For a simulated pet, Hammett feels just as real as any of the other characters in the book.
The plot is a complex mystery involving holograms, space drugs, doppelganger dames and pushers, and all the tongue-in-cheek noir humor and colorful prose you can shake a cybernetic limb at. The opening chapters are a bit slower-paced as they set the tone and the world of HoloCity, and personally, I loved this as it helped me to get used to the characters and the setting before we inevitably changed scenes. But once Bubbles is finally in space, the pace skyrockets. I wasn't quite sure where this case was leading Bubbles, but all of the clues to the eventual reveal are absolutely there, and the climax totally worked for me.
A note on slang for the uninitiated.
My approach to slang in cyberpunk settings is really a grab bag of what might make sense based on what current slang trends are right now. I try to make slang as immediately obvious in context as possible, cause I know not every reader is gonna look at the glossary. But, you know, sometimes, slang doesn't really develop in the way you'd expect. And sometimes, it can transform what is otherwise clearly English into a wholly new language. 1920s-40s slang totally fits this. I mean, without knowing anything about the 1920s and Speakeasies, would you know what a flapper was? (It means a young woman who enjoys a free, energetic lifestyle, and who also enjoys the Speakeasy party life). The answer is, probably not. Tropical Punch uses its 1920s-1940s slang brilliantly, illustrating a fascinating difference between the people who use it like it's their first language (and being from the streets of HC, it basically is) and the people who are paying the planet of Terra Firma an orbital visit aboard the Island Dreamer. One of the side characters Bubbles interacts with even responds to Marlowe's slang with, "I don't know what any of that means."
If you love cyberpunk, if you love 1920s-40s detective noir, you simply have to read this book. No two ways about it, kid. Trust me, it's better than any glow-up you could get at a Speakeasy. While the ebook is free everywhere, I would suggest the paperback version. The book deserves more love.
I give Tropical Punch: Bubbles in Space Book 1 by S.C. Jensen 5 out of 5 stars. Already ordered the next one.
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.
Top reviews from other countries
I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.
By taking inspiration from the genre, Jensen then adds several twists on the tropes to create her own highly original, yet clearing loving, take on them. Furthermore, fans of the genre will also find many ‘easter eggs’ and subtle head-nods, which were always fun to spot.
While the novel’s overall plot is interesting, it’s the book’s characters and voice of the MC Bubbles Marlowe that keeps the reader engaged, with witty-banter and style.
Overall, Tropical Punch is a fun, fast-paced, and easy read that is especially suited for noir-lovers looking for something new and a little different. I’ll definitely be checking out the sequels to see where Marlowe goes next.
I've had a rocky reading road so far in 2021. Despite reading more than my usual intake over the last three months I have, unfortunately, been left rather dissatisfied with the majority of the books I've read so far. None have been awful... Just not as good as I'd hoped.
That all changed however when I picked up this book! I don't want to get into spoiler territory so I'll keep this brief. But if you enjoy murder mystery, cyborgs, blade runner vibes, snarky quips and casts of vibrant characters then this novella could just be for you.
It's also liberally littered with more pulp style similes than you can shake a cybernetic stick at, which is wonderful 😂
It kept me guessing right to the last pages and I'm excited to pick up the next volume when it's released later this year, and at the end of the day, what more can you ask from a book! 😊
Can't wait for the next instalment.