Cosmic Cook – Michael Pryor

Cover blurb
‘When Max Petris gets into the galaxy’s most famous school for chefs, he thinks he’s unstoppable. Then the sinister Colonel Nim appears, demanding that Max cook a Denebian Banquet for the Stim and the Bleenblatts – two alien races who have been at war for 3000 years and who now want to settle their differences over a good feed. Eight hundred vomiting aliens later, Max realises he’s got himself into a bit of a stew.’

Michael Pryor says
Cosmic Cook was a lot of fun to write. I love writing humorous stuff, and this book was a terrific opportunity to be silly. It’s got puns, it’s got ridiculous situations, it’s got characters with snappy comebacks, it’s got characters with runaway mouths, it’s got aliens, it’s got robots, and it’s got more weird food than you can point a wooden spoon at. Cosmic Cook does explore one of my basic beliefs about the future – lots of things will change, but lots of things will remain the same. I’m sure that food will still be an important part of life as long as humanity is around, and when we finally meet other life forms I’m sure they’ll have their own views on food, nourishment and cooking. Cosmic Cook made me laugh when I wrote it, which I hope is a good sign.

Cosmic Cook begins
Max Petris marched right up to his mother. “Mum,” he said. “I want to leave school.”
“That’s nice, dear,” his mother said, without looking up from the card table.
“I want to leave school and become a chef.” His mother nearly dropped her cards. “A chef?” she said. “You want to spend your life cooking?”
She turned back to the card table and stared at her latest way of cheating. “Look Maxie, be a doctor. Or go into the army – there’s plenty of work for a soldier these days.”

She chewed her lip, concentrating on how to stuff more aces up her sleeve. “Forget this cooking business. I’ve got plans for you, kid.”
Max sighed and left her practising how to hide cards in her shoes.

He had mixed feelings about his mum. He was sort of proud of the way she could cheat, lie, steal and crack jokes better than anyone he knew.
But the problem was that she tried to cheat, lie and steal from him too. And that’s why he decided to sell her to the slave traders.

When they took her away, Max was sorry. “Aargh,” he groaned. “I’m sorry I didn’t ask for five hundred bucks instead of four hundred!” As he watched the slave traders’ ship take off, headed for the slime mines of Altair, he decided that his mum would be proud of his moneymaking scheme.

And mad as hell at being a slave, of course. Still, when he was a five-star chef, making a million bucks a year in a place of his own, he might give her a call.

Or send her a food parcel.