"It would be fair to say that Tenalp, being the remotest of Earth's colony planets, had never attracted the finest minds. All the best people - the most intelligent, the most creative and the most highly skilled - has settled elsewhere, leaving Tenalp with what was left. So it was no surprise that many of the planet's inhabitants, particularly those at the higher levels of authority, were somewhat lacking in brilliance or, in Tenalp parlance, as dumb as a bag of bricks."
The Ultimate Inferior Beings by Mark Roman is a funny little, sci-fi find. Starting out on Tenalp (one of Earth's remotest colony planets) we meet jixX, a landscape architect who has unwillingly found himself the captain of a mission into space to discover why another spaceship (The Living Chrysalis) crashed.
JixX will be captaining the Night Ripple, a dangerously obsolete ship, whose greatest asset is LEP- the ship's computer- and the wonders his in-built wit-box provide him with. JixX's crew consists of four others; fluX the behavioural chemist- who is trying to prove the existence of God through puns; twaX the carpenter- who has never seen a real tree and dreams of chopping one down; anaX the gynaecologist with strange habits and finally sylx the professional stowaway- whose job it is to find real stowaways.
Together they battle to find a way home safely, with or without the others, and end up in just the kind of mishaps you can imagine. Whether it's because LEP has no sense of direction or just down to bad luck, they end up off target and at the mercy of green alien blobs (nicknamed the Mamms- as in Mammaliens).
Maybe you've noticed, but all the names end in capital X, start with a lowercase letter and have four letters in total. This isn't really relevant to the review, I just thought I'd throw that little observation in. Also, there are a lot of puns in this book. Personally, I enjoy a good pun, but those of you who don't like that kind of humour should be warned. As for me, I found them hilarious, especially in context and with the other characters reactions to add to it.
JixX is you're average grumpy, Englishman (is he English?) to me. He even reminded me a little of Arthur Dent (from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy), but make no mistake, they are not the same person. Only small elements are similar. He had his own enjoyable personality.
I really liked anaX's character as well. I won't give anything away, but when you find out why she did what she did, it just adds the cherry on top of the "quirky" character pie.
At the end of the book we get a little glossary and a few appendixes, mostly about the history of the Mamms. They explain a little more about how they evolved and where Benjaminism came from. That's a religion by the way, in fact it's every religion they created ever.
The only criticism I have is that the ending was a bit abrupt. That and the plot felt a little thin- but then who says there even needs to be a plot? Some of the most successful books out there have no plot whatsoever. But if you are someone who likes plot, it's something to keep in mind. I would recommend it. It's an enjoyably good tale for any sic-fi lovers out there.
Disclaimer: I received this book from the author through a giveaway. This is not a sponsored review. All opinions are 100% my own.