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Pay Me, Bug! by Christopher Wright

Never Bet Against Your Captain 

Grif Vindh, captain of the Fool’s Errand, just pulled off the job of a lifetime: against all odds, he and his crew smuggled a rare drug out of one of the most secret and secure facilities the Empire of the Radiant Throne has to offer. It was every smuggler’s dream—the “Big Score”—and they find themselves filthy rich as a result.

Nobody knows how he did it, and that suits him just fine . . . until their good fortune attracts exactly the wrong kind of attention. The Radiant Throne, desperate to know how their security was so easily thwarted, send one of their best to track him down and learn the truth . . . by any means necessary. Meanwhile, the Alliance of Free Worlds has been trying to break into that very same facility, without success, so they conscript Grif to do it for them.

Once again, Grif and his crew must perform the impossible: break in, steal something so secret their employers don’t really know what it is, and get away clean.

Along the way, they’ll have to deal with deadly spies, psychotic telepaths, vicious cyborgs, inconvenient family ties . . . and a hyperintelligent bug who always bets against its captain.

Note: Pay Me, Bug! contains some graphic violence and harsh language.

A complete novel

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Listed: Feb 15, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

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A great space opera fix

By Fiona Gregory, editor

Sep 28, 2011: Space smugglers, blackmail, a vendetta, dysfunctional sibling rivalry, an alien artifact of unknown powers, a theocratic dictatorship run by telepaths – lots of fun ingredients for an entertaining online read. There’s some light humour, mainly based on the eccentricities of characters, but it isn’t so silly that it becomes ridiculous. The hero has flair, but is not so cool that he doesn’t fall on his face once in awhile. It’s primarily an adventure story, and the plot has some depth. Enough supporting details of technology and culture are presented so that the far future setting is fleshed out and made suspension-of-disbelief worthy.

There are no major flaws – if I had any critique of it, it could only be that there isn’t anything about it in particular that makes it stand out from other stories like it that I have read. This is partially a side effect of its occupying that "just right" space so well. Time will tell whether this is a story I’ll remember, but it’s certainly an enjoyable read in the present. A big plus is that the author clearly cares: Chapters are presented typo-free and on a schedule, and the site has the basic amenities to make it easy to navigate.

And there is also a podcast with the author reading out loud! I listened to one chapter in this format for comparison. The even pace (not too fast, good balance between conversation and exposition) lends itself well to following along by listening. I encourage you to try this if it’s a convenient way for you to enjoy the story.

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Editor’s First Impression

By Chris Poirier, editor

Feb 15, 2011: Well-written, if a tad slow—but it starts to pick up towards the end of the first chapter. Looks like a fun romp will be had.

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Most Helpful Member Reviews

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Excellently done!

By M.C.A. Hogarth, author of Earthrise

Dec 5, 2011: I remain an indifferent reader of caper novels and am not particularly enamored of ruffians or dashing ne’er-do-wells, but Wright made me care about his cast of unlikely characters. The dialogue is superb, the characterization spot-on and the plot moves with both speed and poise, just as it should in a novel of this kind. It’s funny, it’s entertaining, it’s extremely well-done. Plus (and a big plus it is), the formatting is clean and elegant, not always a given online or in e-books.

[more . . .]

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Stainless Steel Centipede

By Stable, author of The Archive Of Unusual Events

Jul 7, 2016: I started reading this purely because of Jim’s nice review of the sequel, and it’s great fun. Slightly reminds me of the Stainless Steel Rat rat series – crime capers in space in other words. The writing is smooth and the plot flows well too, very easy to binge read!

The only minor dis-satisfaction I have is with the macguffin at the end – I’m trying to say this in a non-spoiler way but feel free to ignore this last section [more . . .]

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Don’t let the title stop you!

By Oniwasabi, author of The Monster They Deserve

Oct 17, 2013: I have no idea if my own experience is shared or unique to me, but I looked at this title SEVERAL times and it kept me from jumping into the book.

So, regardless of that, READ THIS BOOK! If you like sci fi at least. The story is quite engaging, the main characters are all distinct and you can actually feel like they are different people interacting and not an author having a stilted conversation with himself. I would have liked [more . . .]

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