Wednesday, June 10, 2015


J.M. Gifford's entertaining debut novel, Bobby Q, serves up the tantalizing prospect that sizzling, aromatic meals will continue to feature prominently (at least for the lucky ones) in humanity's space-based future.

Gifford entices you into his vessel with a whiff of this quirky, somehow reassuring premise, then, once you're aboard, pulls you into a superorbital adventure plot motivated by the protagonist couple's entrepreneurial aspirations, relationships with each other as besties, herding of their fragile beasties, and desperate work to earn their daily feasties.

There's no shortage of pithy banter between the lead twosome. While the story takes the point of view of every-geek Ozzie, I found myself hoping we will see much more of Pele, the plucky, scene-stealing chef extraordinaire, in series sequels.

While easy reading, Bobby Q has meat on the bones. The chapters open with writerly, observational paragraphs worth savoring. The technology speculations regarding energy production, interorbital travel, and massive, biospheric space stations are pure Arthur C. Clarke. Given the book's central culinary conceit, I would like to have heard more speculations from the imagineering author about the animal husbandry and space ranching processes necessary to produce the perfect pulled pork parfait near Pluto.

In sum, there's plenty to carry the story forward, as well as paragraphs that are so good they almost seem out of place in a novel that slathers on the sauce. Ultimately, you either accept the Pigs in Space premise or you don't. If you don't, I must ask: would you rather Gifford had written a book entitled Rendezvous with Ramen?


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