You Sexy Thing, by Cat Rambo (Tor)
An assortment of ex-soldiers, human and alien, have recently retired from the a mind-linked military ad are about to realize their dreams: their restaurant is about to be reviewed by the foremost restaurant critic of the galaxy and possibly receive a coveted award. Wealthy patrons will then flock to their establishment, and riches will flow their way. What could possibly go wrong? To begin with, a package containing a possible imperial heir, an explosive assault on the space station in which they live and work, and being kidnapped by a sentient bioship, You Sexy Thing, which is programmed to take them to a prison planet before it’s hijacked by the most notorious, vicious, scheming pirate king of all time. So of course, the way out of their dilemma is to teach the ship to cook…
Cat Rambo’s space opera is at times hilarious, emotionally deep, complex, and playful, but always vastly entertaining. The worldbuilding details drew me along as the plot darkened and the characters revealed layer upon intricate layer of depth. I’m a sucker for stories that hook me with humor and whimsy before socking me in the gut. You Sexy Thing delivers on all counts. I’m particularly pleased to see that Rambo left the door open to a sequel, although with storytelling skill like this, I’ll gladly follow her into whatever new universe her imagination concocts.