REVIEW | The Left Hand of Dog | SI Clarke | Starship Teapot #1

I was emailed a review request for this one, and I couldn’t resist the weird sounding summary. I’m so glad I agreed to read it, because this strange sci-fi hit all my found family weak spots.

Rating: 4 stars!

Thanks to SI Clarke for the eARC of this book. It has not affected my honest review.

About the book:

Escaping intergalactic kidnappers has never been quite so ridiculous.

When Lem and her faithful dog, Spock, retreat from the city for a few days of hiking in Algonquin Park, the last thing they expect is to be kidnapped by aliens. No, scratch that. The last thing they expect is to be kidnapped by a bunch of strangely adorable intergalactic bounty hunters aboard a ship called the Teapot.

After Lem falls in with an unlikely group of allies – including a talking horse, a sarcastic robot, an overly anxious giant parrot, and a cloud of sentient glitter gas – the gang must devise a cunning plan to escape their captors and make it back home safely.

But things won’t be as easy as they first seem. Lost in deep space and running out of fuel, this chaotic crew are faced with the daunting task of navigating an alien planet, breaking into a space station, and discovering the real reason they’re all there…

What did I think?

This was such a strange book. I’d recommend it for fans of SJ Whitby and Becky Chambers, and I’m so glad I read this delightful story. It’s a quick read, not least because once you get started it’s too much fun to put down. Honestly, once you hit the part where Spock (who is the best dog in the world ever) **starts talking to Lem, her owner (companion? master? spouse?), I challenge anyone to put it down again before you’ve finished.

I’m a sucker for first contact books, and while this isn’t quite that, we certainly get a lot of that energy. Lem is abducted by adorable intergalactic bounty hunters, and they are completely out of their depth. What a way to find out aliens are real. One of my absolute favourite things about this book was the translation software. A universe that is used to different species colliding would have to have a solution for the language problem, and in The Left Hand of Dog we have this incredible system that translates into not only a language each individual will understand, but words that they will understand. I loved the miscommunications this caused, but also the way that this allowed me to suspend my disbelief without complicated sci-fi bullshit.

It also let SI Clarke fill this book with pop culture references galore, as Lem tried to compare the universe around them with the world they know from TV and books. The pop culture references were so fun and handled in a way that made them fun to spot without ruining the narrative when I occasionally didn’t get one or two. There’s an art form to that which SI Clarke pulled off really well, making them fun without being overwhelming or annoying. Each alien culture was so different and varied, and I adored them all. Particularly one planet, where the native species didn’t have the concept of questions in their society, and how this repeatedly tripped up our main cast.

The main cast itself was perfect. I absolutely adored them all. Each member of this rag-tag escape team had their own quirks and strange habits, and they gave me such strong found family vibes that I fell completely in love with them all. I can’t wait for the next book in the Starship Teapot series.


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Release Date: 17th August 2021


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