Sci Fi Short Stories/Novella

Mr. Fizzle Pops Ruins Everything – Short Story Review

Aeon 14/Perilous Alliance 6.5 by Chris Pike and M.D. Cooper
Published on: September 22, 2019

Cats in space! What’s weird is this is the fourth science fiction short story I’ve read recently that features a cat – and from different authors too. Personally, I’ve never actually thought about which Earth pet might work best in space, but apparently it’s already decided – and it’s cats. But what’s beginning to pop out to me is the message these authors are sending in three of these four books: Cats are not getting fed!

Description:

Mr. Fizzle Pop tells an epic story about his adventures aboard the Barbaric Queen. In search of a fifty-foot pizza, he pilots a shuttle refitted for love, steals a box of cigars, and nearly gets killed in the process. All in the day and life of your favorite uplifted cat.

Thoughts:

First – love the title. Titles aren’t usually a selling or non-selling point for me, but the name of that cat is awesome and most definitely attracted my attention. I mean, who doesn’t want to know how Mr. Fizzle Pops ruined everything?

But apparently sci fi writers are beginning to see a troubling trend that they are needing to address through their works- calling out like a canary in a coal mine. Do they know something we don’t? In Gerald’s Mistake and Gerald’s Regret, we see how not being fed on time leads Gerald to “accidentally” cause the end of the world. So perhaps they are just warning us of potential apocalyptic events that we can avoid if only we feed our cats. Or perhaps they are attempting to put mystery/thriller authors on notice. They are tired of police walking into the homes of potential victims (or suspects who have fled the scene) where it is noticed that the pet hasn’t been fed for days. But, I digress.

In the Forward section of this short read, the author actually identifies how Mr. Fizzle Pops came to be created and how he is based on their own cat who insisted on constantly being fed.

The short story starts with the crew of the Barbaric Queen crew having a victory party and neglecting to feed Mr. Fizzle Pops. They laugh about his constant need for food and it is this that leads Bubbs and Mr. Fizzle Pops to tell a few stories of past events. Stories are:

  1. How Mr. Fizzle Pops was found by Bubbs and came to be on the Barbaric Queen.
  2. How Mr. Fizzle Pops got rid of the dog (Moon Sausage) that used to be on the ship.
  3. Even though I read it I’m actually not 100% sure on what the third story is about, but I believe it is how some individuals left or were removed from the Barbaric Queen.

This is a series I am not familiar with – at all. I do this often – I see an interesting book, and then read it no matter where it is in the series. Generally, I can figure out the major plots and characters with little to no trouble. However, I had a much more difficult time with this one. The characters weren’t necessarily introduced by who they are within the story and prior plot points were not explained in enough detail that I could pick out what was going on. An example of this is the third story – it begins with Bubbs saying she will take care of another character right after he eats dinner. Then, Mr. Fizzle Pops strolls onto the bridge and cuddles with another character who is also giving him snacks. But, then someone else joins them on the bridge and the dynamics change, but we aren’t told why. I even wondered if they were putting on a show for the cat just to drive him crazy. The scene just didn’t make sense to me, partially because this is all from the cat’s perspective and we are given a “cat’s version” of what is actually occurring, but also because there is no reference point or explanation of the events to fall back on.

Even though I didn’t quite understand the characters and past events, I did find the stories to be very readable and would be interested in reading the series. It was most definitely filled with very memorable characters that felt like a true ‘crew.’ I just wish a little more background had been explained within the story so that I could enjoy it a bit more.

Rating: 3.5 if you’re new to the series 4.0 if you’re familiar with it.

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