REVIEW: Space Punks by Anna Mocikat

Space Punks by Anna Mocikat is a book I’ve been looking forward to for some time. It is a cyberpunk-space opera hybrid that is a bit akin Cowboy Bebop or Outlaw Star if you remember your Nineties anime. You could even compare it to Firefly, except the crew isn’t a bunch of Western Outlaws in Space but, well, multicolored hair cool punks who wouldn’t be out of place at a Ramones concert. You know, except for all the cybernetics.

Space PunksThe premise is that in the distant future, humanity has barely survived a devastating war with the Machines and Earth has been destroyed. Which absolutely sucks since humanity has only barely colonized the Sol system and a handful of places outside of it. This, of course, has led to a thriving mercenary economy as people like the crew of the Nephilim (named after the protagonist of Behind Blue Eyes) struggle to make ends meat while living their indulgent free love lifestyle. With guns, lots of guns.

I like Anna Mocikat’s signature style of depicting the future as decadent, seedy, but very believable places. This similarly reflects her Behind Blue Eyes series that could have been the past of this world but is apparently just a fictional book series in this one. She has a way of making dystopias look sexy and cool while also not shying away from how horrible they are for 95% of the people in the world. Mostly because that number of people were killed in the past century by the Mats (robots).

We open this book with the perspective of David, who is locked into a gritty hellhole prison on Deimos where men as well as women are locked away together with no attempt to keep the prisoners in line. There’s nothing graphic but readers should be warned that the book opens up with an attempted sexual assault just to show how cyborg merc, Aztec, is able to rip apart some would-be rapists. This, of course, makes David immediately fall in love with Aztec and he’s soon roped into her scheme for a prison break.

One element I really enjoyed about this book is the fact that it is very much in the style of “micro-writing.” A lot of the book is very short scenes from the perspective one character of the Nephilim’s crew then switching to another’s perspective, sometime in the same scene. This is sometimes disorienting but, overall, was something I hadn’t experienced much of as a reader and rapidly gave me a strong sense of connection to the crew.

And while this may come out wrong, I liked the book’s handling of sex. Which is to say it handled in an unsentimental and matter-of-fact way. There’s a variety of relationships both casual and otherwise onboard the ship with no attempt to sanitize or play up the unconventional natures of them. David likes Aztec and she’s in an open relationship with her boyfriend, Nightingale (who is bi). David is offput by this and not sure if he wants to try to get involved in such a complicated mess, which is not how love triangles typically go.

There’s plenty of action in the book but it’s mostly small-scale and more like a Slice-Of-Life story for space mercenaries. We get to know all of the characters very well and have data entries that fill in the world-building on a regular basis. It feels like the author is only beginning to tap what should probably be a pretty lengthy series. If so, I’ll definitely be picking up copies because it’s a dark but exciting universe.

Read Space Punks by Anna Mocikat

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CT Phipps

CT 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's the author of Agent G, Cthulhu Armageddon, Lucifer's Star, Straight Outta Fangton, and The Supervillainy Saga. He is also a frequent contributor to Grimdark Magazine.